In this edition of our Getting To Know series we have Kaleigh Kirby of Reality Check Authentications. If you’ve been keeping up with the blog in the last week, you have learned how important it is to authenticate any designer item you’re looking to purchase from a seller you’re not sure of.
1) How and why did you start Reality Check Authentications?
The reason for starting my business begins with the fact that I have a passion for designer goods. I have always loved beautiful things. Part of the beauty of high-end designer items is their quality and craftsmanship. So I despise the counterfeit industry. I felt very passionate about this, as a buyer and seller myself. I understood the ramifications and damage counterfeits have not only on buyers and sellers, but on the brand trademark owners, human rights and the economy. I knew I could take that passion with my particular skill-set, and turn it into a career that I could be proud of in all ways.I had already been authenticating for well-known, reputable services, the Purse forum, and Facebook groups for many years. While I found it a very rewarding experience, I felt there was a gap in the industry that I knew I could fill. I had spent years and years building up a strong Facebook following, and cultivating my reputation, and then decided that it was time for me to take the leap and start my own service. I didn’t really tell anyone I was doing it, but I built my website, lined up the best talent I could find, and opened shop.
2) When did you start Reality Check Authentications?
I’ve been authenticating for over a decade, but officially opened Reality Check Authentication Services early last year.
3) What is the process to authenticate a handbag? What do you look for?
Every authenticator has their own process. My process is sometimes frustrating to my clients because I tend to be a bit, well, exact (am I allowed to say anal)? I work from the outside in, from macro to micro. I look at the general picture of the item in question. I look at the shape, cut, finish as a first impression. Then bit by bit, I get closer, and more detailed, until I am counting stitches and thread twill and looking at pores or texture and glazing and wear patterns. For bags that are super-faked, I do that entire examination, then I walk away from it for a bit and work on something else. Then I come back to it. I may do that a few times. Sometimes something seems off and I can’t quite say what, and when I come back I see it clear as day. Sometimes I know it was just something I was staring at too long, but is fine upon a fresh look.
4) Which bags are the hardest to authenticate and which ones can you not authenticate?
Chanel hands down is the hardest to authenticate, in my opinion. There are superfakes out there that are so good, but they can be discovered. It takes time and an excellent eye. I think if you know a brand intimately enough and have the eye, there are no brands that cannot be authenticated.
5) Do you authenticate the bags yourself?
I do authenticate many myself, though I do have a small but highly, highly skilled group of authenticators for the brands I do not do or do not have time to do.
6) Which platform do you see the most authentications coming from?
Lately, Facebook by far provides the most requests for authentications. I have a business page there, and am personally in many designer groups, but also get a lot of requests via messaging to my personal facebook. I love my clients, though, whether from Facebook or the Realitycheckauthentications.com website.
7) Do your authenticate for any larger companies? If so, who?
Some of the larger companies I authenticate for are Madison Avenue Couture, Trendlee, I’ve done work for Fashionphile, Onquestyle, several Malleries and Ebay professional sellers.
8) What does a typical day look like for you?
Well, what day doesn’t start out with a good cup of coffee?! My work day starts with responding to emails or messages that came in overnight (clients are all over the world). I forward what work is ready to the other authenticators if necessary. Then any work pending from the day before I get done, and usually that means going back and forth between bags or items. It is constant messaging- asking for more or better pictures, giving quotes on prices, sending invoices, doing letters or certificates or dispute documents. I constantly have a device or two or three going at once. I also research a great deal. You can’t be a good authenticator if you don’t keep up to date on both real and fake items. Sometimes I work until sunrise the next day if we are very busy.
9) On average, how many authentications does your company do?
Authentications vary from day to day, I haven’t really figured out what an average amount of authentications is! I put it like this- some days I have time for breakfast and lunch and can actually cook a meal- other days are so busy I forget to eat or sleep and have to re-heat the same cup of coffee 5 times!
10) Who is your favorite design house?
I am a bit fickle when it comes to favorites- overall, Chanel is always up there. More so because I am a history buff, and what story is cooler than that of Chanel? Well, Gucci history is fascinating, and I have had my Gucci obsessions to be sure. I adore Alexander McQueen. And Louis….I can’t pick just one!
11) Do you sell yourself and if so, where?
I do sell myself, on Ebay, Facebook, Tradesy, and when I carried more inventory, Malleries.
12) What’s the future for your business?
I plan on a well-paced, steady growth for the business over the next year. I don’t ever want to lose the personal touch or high quality, detailed work our clients have come to expect, so we will slowly be adding highly skilled talent. I have begun offering concierge service to select clients, and will be building that side of the business while increasing the Reality Check Facebook presence. I also have a Youtube series in the planning stages to give basic buying, selling and authentication information and advice. It’s going to be a very exciting year for Reality Check Authentications!!
You can find Reality Check Authentications in the links below!