Businesses Started By Mums
While she was expecting her daughter Isabella, French-born Natalie Massenet launched what would later become a global fashion business from her apartment in London. Read the story of Net-A-Porter on this week’s Inspiring Stories blog post..
Aged 33, Natalie launched her successful high end online fashion business, Net-a-Porter,when she was on maternity leave about to have her first child, Isabella.
She said, ‘I couldn't believe you could be sitting in your apartment in London and be clicking on a Victorian jacket in Wisconsin, and that someone in Wisconsin could send it to you!,’ She used to work as a fashion journalist for Vogue. Natalie and her husband at the time managed to raise a huge £1.2 million to set up the venture, using her apartment in London as headquarters. They started with a team of just 15 staff, but has since grown to become a world-renowned fashion supplier.
Born in Paris, and from a sparkling family background of journalism and acting, Massenet’s first job after high school was at a menswear shop in LA. She studied English Literature at UCLA. Before breaking into journalism, she had a varied early career, which included fashion modelling, photography, and receptionist duty. She had internships at a number of fashion magazines, before eventually becoming a fashion journalist at Women’s Wear Daily in the early 90s.
Net-A-Porter was launched in 2000, and had a magazine style format, which was one of the first of its kind, which would become popular and influence much of our web content to this day.
These days, most of us are familiar with online shopping. You see an image of a pair of shoes, for example, and we take for granted the ability to simply click on the image in order to buy it. Massenet was clearly ahead of her time, as she began to pioneer this concept. At first, investors were reluctant to get on board, as they were unsure as to whether online high-end fashion was really viable. But with a bit of persuation, and a lot of persistence in sticking with what she felt was the right thing to do, the concept became very profitable, only a few years later, in 2004, when the site was awarded Best Fashion Shop at the British Fashion Awards.
The company has continued to grow exponentially to this day, where it has a global influence.