Rati Sahi Levesque, Chief Merchant, The RealReal


"I grew up in San Francisco. My parents had a restaurant in Nob Hill, and we lived in the apartment upstairs. I spent a lot of time working there—just growing up in that world, I thought maybe I wanted to take over the restaurant for awhile. And like any good Indian daughter, I thought I wanted to be a doctor. But I ended up going to school for Business Economics and I eventually got a job in banking at Wells Fargo. That didn't work. I got laid off, because I had a fake ID when I was 18 and it came up in a background check. I tried to explain, but they walked me out. It was the best thing looking back on it. [My RealReal partner] Julie jokes that I wouldn't get hired if I applied now. [Laughs]

My husband was at some bank at the time, and his friend's wife owned a clothing store, so I started working with her. I was like, ‘What else am I going to do?’ After it closed I was trying to figure out if I should open another store, and that's when I met Julie, the CEO and Founder of The RealReal. We started it six years ago, working out of her house. It was a real start-up story.

The core of The RealReal is luxury authentication and consignment. It's different from peer-to-peer sites like eBay, and you can trust it. We found out while we were growing was that it was a sustainable company because it’s re-commerce and we are putting new life into luxury goods. People were calling us and asking which bag they should get based on how much money they could make off it later. Even our VP of Marketing, who isn't that into fashion, said it clicked for him. He was deciding between Ferragamo shoes and the Nordstrom brand, and he bought the Ferragamo ones because he knew could make a decent 50% later.

I’m one of those people that shops by season, so right now I’m looking at stuff for spring and summer. I will usually get 10 to 15 things and wear them to death. It’s also easier for me because then I don’t have to think about it for a few months. I buy a lot on The RealReal, obviously. I just did a purge and got rid of a bunch of stuff—I can always find something I want to get rid of or that I haven't worn. Then you consign, get a check every month, and you can justify your new purchases for the season... like, I just bought a Louis Vuitton bag. I shop on the site often. [Laughs]

In truth, I'm not a huge beauty person—I like shoes instead. I'm building my routines. I haven't found the right hair products. When I put something in my hair, it can kind of look flat. But then I never get it 'done' because then I look like I'm going to prom. I use Aesop right now or whatever natural brand I can find at Whole Foods. I love the bottles, they look pretty, and I like having pretty things in the house because I do have to stare at them all day. For shampoo, I can use anything. The texture is pretty wavy, so I just wash and go. Whatever is easiest.

My cousin is getting married to a facialist, so I've been asking her everything. Usually I just ask people who have pretty skin what they use—but I've found that everyone's skin is different, and what's right for me might not be right for someone else and vice-versa. I never used many products, but after I had a baby, it was like I was a teenager again. The combination of the stress and the hormones is a lot on someone’s skin. I had to use Simple Face Wash just to get it back to normal, and I saw a dermatologist for that. I ate a lot of vegetables, and drank a lot of water—I think that has a lot to do with it.

Now I've been washing my face with the Sircuit Cosmeceuticals X-Trap Cleanser. I started using the Serum Absolut Radiance from Luzern for a couple months and it’s super light. It just sinks in fast. I have a problem finding things that are either too oily or don’t absorb, and this is just light enough. Then, I use the In Fiore Comfrey Solution Oil. Just double on the oils—that's what I've been told to do. The last step is the iS Clinical Reparative Emulsion. It just kind of seals everything in and has this matte finish. I use an eye cream because I’m getting older. It’s preventative—I want to be able to prevent the wrinkles. Eye Dew from Farmacy is nice because it has a shine to it, and because I don’t really wear makeup, it gives my undereyes a little something.

I wear blush—usually whatever I can find. Lovecloud Powder Blush is great. I have so much yellow in my skin, and that one is just the right amount of color. It's great for every season, too. I use a brush I got from EcoTools at Walgreens and I put it on the apples of my cheeks. For coverage, I use the Glossier Skin Tint in Medium, which is super natural. This is a lot of makeup for me and I just like to feel like myself—and it's not too waxy and pretty smooth.

Sometimes I'll use mascara—The Great Lash Real Impact is good. I usually wear it at night and it doesn't flake. With other mascaras, by the end of the night, I'll have mascara all over my face. It always goes back to not looking overdone. I can try stuff, but it doesn't stick. I do have something from Chanel for my brows, in brown, but I never groom them. I overplucked in high school and now I don’t touch them. If I ever do a red lip, I’ll do Amplified Orange from MAC. Then Cargo Cosmetics in Ageless[Ed. Note: Discontinued] is good. I also like the YSL Touche Éclat in 3.5 under my eyes. That works well—very easy."

—as told to ITG

Rati Sahi photographed by Tom Newton in New York on March 1, 2017.