Before inventing Net-a-Porter, which changed the world of luxury shopping once and for all (cumulative sales exceeded £ 1 billion back in 2015), in fact inventing the format of online fashion trading, which was then copied thousands of times by others, Natalie Massenet managed to work as a model and a journalist. Her biography consists of incredible coincidences and is somewhat reminiscent of "Alice in Wonderland".
Natalie was born to an English mother, model for Chaneland understudy Sophia Loren; and American father, poet and agent Brigitte Bardot during her first trip to the United States. She spent her childhood in Paris, and at the age of 12 she left with her father for Los Angeles. At California College, Natalie chose English as her specialization, although she was always interested in foreign languages as well. At school, for example, one of her favorites was Japanese. In the 1980s in America, everyone only talked about the Land of the Rising Sun, and Natalie greatly annoyed those around her, because at any moment she tried to screw something in Japanese and even kept a diary in it. As a graduation gift at the university, her father gave her a ticket to Tokyo and back, paid for the hotel for three nights and gave her $ 200. Natalie's happiness knew no bounds: she immediately threw a farewell party, informing all her friends that she was leaving for Japan for a year. There she successfully passed an interview at a modeling agency and really stayed for 12 months, but now she recalls this scam with a certain shudder.
My ambitions are always stable: to be creative, modern, to be one step ahead and to enjoy life. I learned not to take anything for granted because the rules of the game are constantly changing.
Returning to her native California, Massena decided to open a chain of coffee shops (at that moment only the first Starbucks opened in the country), but the matter did not go further than one. Recalling what she had studied, Natalie Massenet decided to focus on journalism and successfully interviewed for the position of West Coast editor at the reputable fashion magazine Women's Wear Daily. Seeking a career in 1996, she moved to London, where she began working as a contributing editor for Tatler., as well as Isabella Blow's assistant on the set, who opened the world to designer Alexander McQueen. But she could not stand it for more than two years: as Massenet herself admits, starting to work in this publication, she could not even imagine how much it was necessary to be immersed in the world of the English aristocracy. So the main earnings of Natalie were fees from writing texts for magazines in free mode. At this point, she married a manager who worked in one of the hedge funds, and moved to the wealthy London borough of Chelsea.
The concept of an online store where one could buy luxury clothing and accessories anywhere in the world was born in 1999. “I then wrote to magazines from home, but I always had problems with deadlines,” she once shared in an interview with Dasha Zhukova. - I often went online, and since I was crazy about vintage clothes, I studied the assortment in online stores, then this is the only thing that could be bought there. At that moment, the thought struck me: if I can find a woman selling me Victorian clothes from South Dakota, perhaps I can find a pair of Chloé jeans as well ? But at that moment, buying your favorite designer clothes via the Internet was out of the question, even though all fashion magazines vied with each other shouting that the future was in online trade. Then Natalie decided to do it herself.
I always give the same advice: when starting your business, do something in your comfort zone, do where you think you have something to say, and not where you need to hire a bunch of people to get things off the ground. …
She often recalls that time: to connect to the Internet in 1999, you had to turn off your phone, and while one page was loading, you could easily have time to drink a cup of coffee. Nevertheless, she just invented her new store for working women who, after a day at the office, did not want to go to the department store, but could buy everything they need without leaving home during their holidays or not being very distracted from their everyday activities. With the help of her husband, she wrote a business plan and even received the necessary funding at first from a Latin American foundation headed by the Busquet family, who made their fortune in metallurgy.
In 2009, Natalie Massenet was awarded the title of Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire, and in 2016 she became Dame Commander of the Order of the same name for her contribution to the development of the British retail and fashion industry.
However, convincing fashion brands to sell online was not so easy, most of them did not even understand how this could be organized. Massena's old connections from the world of fashion journalism came to the rescue: her first clients were Jimmy Choo and Anya Hindmarch. Having enlisted their support, she began to visit fashion exhibitions and meet young designers, so she also had Matthew Williamson, Clements Ribeiro and Roland Mouret, and in total there were about 35 brands to launch. Information about the Net-a-Porter startup was actively disseminated, and by the time it was launched in June 2000, American Vogue had already written about it., which obviously influenced the future success of the undertaking.
My working day starts at 9:30 am and I stay in the office until 7:30 pm. Around 10 pm I spend an hour or two answering my mail. All this happens from Monday to Friday. And never on the weekend.
The first three years the project was unprofitable, but in the fourth it came to self-sufficiency. During this period, the Swiss jewelry and watch holding Richemont was already among the serious co-investors of the project. When selling the first part of her share, Natalie Massena managed to get about $ 50 million at first, which were distributed between her and the top managers of the company, and in 2010 the shares remaining with her and a member of the board of directors were estimated at £ 350 million. After their sale Natalie was still in Net-a-Porter's management.
The next transaction for the sale of the business, but already by the Richemont holding itself, took place in 2015: the Net-a-Porter Group, estimated at almost $ 1.5 billion, was sold to the Italian company Yoox, specializing in online trading, headed by Federico Marchetti (estimated Natalie herself, the real amount was greatly underestimated by Richemont, and amounted to about $ 2.2 billion). At that time, it was already not only the Net-a-Porter online store with total sales exceeding £ 1 billion, but also TheOutnet online discounter, launched in 2009 and bringing the company tangible profits in the wake of the 2008 crisis, the men's store Mr Porter, the trendy social network Net Setas well as the full-fledged quarterly glossy magazine Porter. The first issue of the publication appeared in 2014, Natalie hired a former colleague from Tatler to work in it. And, I must say, this magazine seriously turned the glossy world, immediately becoming a serious competitor for Vogue and Harper's Bazaar. So much so that representatives of the American Condé Nast, which publishes Vogue, prohibited photographers from filming for Porter, threatening to stop work for their numbers. Massena even had to write an official letter to Anna Wintour.
Be the smartest at the negotiating table and you can be dressed in whatever you want.
The glossy world had something to fear: Natalie's concept was that 100% of the goods that were published on the pages of the new magazine could immediately be bought using the phone. At first, ill-wishers tried to say that such a catalog format, in fact, will never be liked by the consumer, who will think that they just want to impose goods on him. To this, Massena reasonably replied that, first of all, everything that appears in the magazine, the editors select according to the principle of relevance, and it is these things that buyers buy later, and not vice versa, when this or that thing appears on the page just because it is on warehouse.
By 2015, when Natalie Massenet (due to disagreements with Marchetti on the further development of the business), resigned and left the board of directors, on Net-a-Porterper month, on average, up to 9 million unique users came, the store's assortment included almost 400 fashion brands, and delivery was carried out to 170 countries of the world. It must be said that under Natalie, the company never resembled a soulless corporation. As she herself notes, she always wanted to create a place for people, where they would gladly come on Monday morning, where people would like each other and communicate pleasantly, but at the same time completely devote themselves to work. Massena herself honestly admits that while she is in the office, she is completely devoted to her work and can not eat or sleep, going towards her intended goal. But at the same time, sleep is one of the favorite activities, and if it were not for work, it would be difficult to get her out of bed.
The biggest mistakes are the best lessons. Laugh and move on. I think social media is a real gift! I love Instagram because it is positive and beautiful: there is so much love there, like there, like here.
Natalie Massena's flair can only be envied: everything that she has done since 1999 invariably leads to astounding success. Since 2013, she has also joined the British Fashion Council, where for three years she successfully promoted the UK as a top creative talent for the fashion world and worked on the image and prestige of London Fashion Week. Her services to the country did not go unnoticed: in 2009, Massenet was awarded the title of Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire, and in 2016 she became the Lady Commander of the Order of the same name; both awards were presented in recognition of her contributions to the UK retail and fashion industry.
In March 2016, Natalie was named Plenipotentiary Business Representative to the UK Department of Trade and Industry. But her fashion career did not end there. After the announcement that the editor-in-chief of British Vogue, Alexandra Shulman, was leaving the publication, Natalie Massenet was expected to replace her in fashion circles. But on February 28, 2017, it became known that she was joining Farfetch's board of directors as non-executive co-chairman.
It took me a long time to learn to speak at dinner and at parties: “Hi, I'm Natalie”, not “Hi, I work there”.
Massena will focus on expanding the brand's presence in the global marketplace and strengthening its partnership with the fashion community. She will work side-by-side with José Neves, Founder, CEO and Executive Co-Chair of Farfetch. Their fates are somewhat similar: at the age of 19, Neves launched his first commercial project in the field of high technology, in 1996 he began working with the Swear shoe brand in London, and in 2008 he combined his interests in fashion and technology by launching Farfetch … This project is the first global luxury e-commerce platform to operate as a store aggregator. Among the co-investors of his company are Condé Nast, Eurazeo, Temasek, IDG Capital Partners, etc. So far the company is not yet making a profit, but the website registers up to 10 million monthly visits, the client base has grown by 65% over the past year, and Farfetch itself is already estimated at $ 1 billion, while the gross turnover for 2016 amounted to $ 800 million. Obviously, Natalie Massenet will be where to turn.>