Brand Spotlight: Net-A-Porter

Net-A-Porter is a high-end online fashion retailer, selling different fashion items from many different designers.  It was founded in 2000 by Natalie Massenet.  It is now a popular worldwide business, gaining millions of unique visits in internet traffic every month.
Net-A-Porter also runs a website launched in 2009 called The Outnet – which sells designer items at discounted prices – and PORTER Magazine, which was launched in 2014.

Like most businesses, Net-a-Porter had humble and low-key beginnings, and like her business, American-born Natalie Massenet started small. After she graduated high school she worked in a menswear shop.  She then went on to study English Literature at the University of California, Los Angeles.  After she graduated she worked in Tokyo for a year as a model and stylist, as welll as working as a receptionist at Universal Studios and working as an assistant for an Italian magazine.  Then she began her career as fashion journalist in 1993, writing for Women's Wear Daily (WWD) and then Tatler UK.

After going freelance in the late 1990s, she came up with the concept of Net-a-Porter, a magazine in a website format where users could source and purchase fashion items.

She raised the £1.2million for start-up costs with the help and support of her then-husband, then they launched the company from their flat in Chelsea.

The website may be popular now but it was not always the case.  Many designers and investors were reluctant to back the concept because it was only online-based and it didn't have a store.  However the company has grown and progressed significantly.  It retails products from more than 350 designers – such as YSL, Stella McCartney, Alexander Wang, Valentino, Victoria Beckham, Miu Miu, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Givenchy, Fendi and Diane von Furstenberg.  Net-A-Porter attracts two millions visitors, and the average customer spends around £500 on the site.  Also, Net-A-Porter won Best Fashion Shop at the British Fashion Awards in 2004.

Net-a-Porter is now very profitable too.  In 2010 Massenet sold a majority stake in Net-a-Porter to a Swiss designer goods holding company for an estimated £50m, while at the same time Net-a-Porter was valued at $533 million.

Massenet now resides in London and she remains an investor and executive chairwoman, so she's still a woman in charge, as well as working as a chairwoman of the British Fashion Council since 2013.

Natalie Massenet is definitely an inspirational woman in the fashion retail world: self-made and successful.

Natalie Massenet's career tips for women who want to be successful entrepreneurs:
Once you start a business, you have to grow it and grow with it – starting a business is not just for Christmas.”

Having the positive belief that it will all be OK just means that you hustle and make it work because failure is not even an option in your own mind.”

My personal ambition remains the same – to be creative, to be modern, to stay one step ahead, to enjoy life.”

“I realised at a certain point that if I was going to have the kind of life that I fantasised about, I needed to get my act together.  No one was going to do it for me.  I'm still like that.”

“Always go into meetings or negotiations with a positive attitude.  Tell yourself you're going to make this the best deal for all parties.”

“Point out the problems, as long as you have a solution.  I don't like critics who aren't doers themselves.”

“Be the smartest at the table and you can wear whatever you want.”

“Success begins at that magical moment when you declare yo yourself, your friends, and the universe that you believe that you can do something different.”

The best of Net-A-Porter

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