#MondayMentors: Net-a-Porter founder Dame Natalie Massenet
#MondayMentors: Net-a-Porter (YNAP) founder Natalie Massenet
Several months ago, I met Dame Natalie Massenet. If you’re a fashion enthusiast (especially for fashion business), then you probably already idolize her and the empire she has built.
Just in case you’re not familiar, Natalie Massenet is the iconic founder of net-a-porter.com. Now Yoox-Net-a-Porter Group (she’s no longer at the company), YNAP were the first people to sell luxury fashion online. Not only has the website become a global brand unto itself (generating 2 billion euros in revenue for just the year of 2016), but it also allowed Massenet to build a personal brand – to be recognized as one of the most iconic female business founders ever.
After attending UCLA, having studied English Literature, Natalie got her start as a receptionist at a film studio. During the talk I attended, Natalie admitted that she didn’t feel like she thrived within that role. Being half British, she soon moved to the UK and built her business from the ground up.
While she has since left the company, it has continued to thrive — and so has she. As the co-chair of Farfetch and Partner at IMAGINARY ventures, Natalie is still steering the future of retail technology. In particular, she’s backing high-profile businesses such as Reformation, Everlane and Good American.
As accomplished as Natalie is, however, what dazzled me the most about her wasn’t her CV. Rather, it was her attitude. Upon meeting her, the fact that she was able to build such an incredible empire (and life) for herself was far from a surprise.
Here’s why (according to me)…
3 things I learned from meeting Dame Natalie Massenet:
1. She really listens
Despite all her global success, Natalie really listens to everyone she speaks with – regardless of their social status / ‘importance.’ When I told her about my dreams and goals, she really looked at me and absorbed what I was saying. Because of this, she actually gave me really thoughtful advice (and could, because she was actually listening). While I took her thoughtful advice to heart, her ability to make me feel heard was the most valuable part of the whole interaction.
2. Vibes - She speaks slowly and from the heart
When she spoke to everyone at the talk I attended, she spoke slowly. Her words were eloquent, concise, yet understandable. She was relaxed yet candid, and had the type of energy that most people can’t help but like. This was really striking to me, especially since female fashion bosses are often depicted as being like Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wear’s Prada.
When Natalie left Net-a-Porter, it wasn’t exactly the most ideal circumstance. While the company is still doing splendidly, making the decision to leave the company you founded must’ve been incredibly challenging. Instead of going into hiding and feeling defeated, Natalie picked herself up, started Imaginary Ventures and joined the board at Farfetch. Instead of hiding away, Natalie used this not-ideal circumstance as an opportunity to grow herself.
That’s it for this week! I would love to know — what do you admire most about Natalie? Be sure to tell me on Instagram @fashionoriginatorspodcast! In the meantime, you can also listen to the latest episode of Fashion Originators below: