When Net-a-Porter‘s Natalie Massenet was announced as a speaker at the Vogue Festival for 2013, I felt like there was a ripple that went through the fashion world. An opportunity to hear how the Queen of fashion retail rose to the top is an opportunity that simply cannot be missed. Tickets flew, naturally, and we all wondered what Natalie would share with the world. Would she share the actual secret that led her to fashion fame?
The talk, titled “Natalie Massenet: The woman who changed the way we shop for fashion,” took place just 30 minutes ago on the Southbank in London. The way in which Natalie Masssenet told her story is as revolutionary as the story itself. Natalie Massenet gave a presentation through Instagram, a story you can all see just as we did by logging into the instagram account @nataporter_mystorysofar. I have heard Natalie Massenet speak several times now, and each time I come away feeling just as inspired as the first time I sat in awe of this brilliant mind in the world of fashion.
Natalie started telling her tale from the very beginning. I truly mean from the start, sharing pictures of her stylish mother and father (Natalie is a dead ringer for her gorgeous mother) and her early years in Paris and Madrid. She took us through her early formative years and her first Paris Haute Couture look that she rocked at the age of 4. She then led us into her teenage years in Los Angeles when she shared a quote that had several girls around me whispering. She said, and I quote, “If I wore a teenager today I would probably be a blogger.” She then backed up her statement by sharing the original “selfie” style shot. Yes, even then she was gorgeous. She may have claimed that she didn’t have style early on in life, but there is no arguing that Natalie Massenet has always been beautiful.
While one would think that Natalie Massenet’s rise to fashion fame seems quite clear cut, it does appear she took several turns throughout the industry before finding her proper place by founding the world’s leading fashion retail website. She has been a model, a receptionist for John Hughes, and a fashion journalist with Moda Magazine, WWD and Tatler. Apparently Natalie was also looking for a job at Vogue, where she interviewed with Alexandra Schulman. And here comes the rather hilarious and monumental moment in the chat today. Schulman was the one who introduced Natalie Massenet on stage today. To close the talk, when Schulman and Massenet were on stage together, Natalie turned to Alexandra and said, “thank you for not giving me that job all those years ago.” Thank you, indeed, as without that turn of events we might not have Net-a-Porter today.
As far as business brilliance is concerned, Natalie has plenty of advice to hand out. She started by telling us that the easiest part of starting a business is in fact starting it. From there, it’s a constant game of succeeding while the world is watching and being able to grow with your business as it changes. She also advised to also put the customer at the centre of your business. If you have ever shopped Net-a-Porter, you’ll understand that she has built her entire business around keeping the customer happy. Who doesn’t love receiving that beautiful black box full of magical wonders?
Natalie also advised the audience to invest in two books that have helped her immensely. I have read both, as she recommended these years ago… and I will say that they are worth every penny. Purchase now or regret it. They are Creative Visualization by Shakti Gawain and The Popcorn Report by Faith Popcorn.
While Natalie Massenet appears to have already conquered the world of fashion, from her work with Net-a-Porter to her new appointment as head of British Fashion Council, I have no doubt there are more big movements to come. This is one woman that should be a female heroine for every woman. Now, if I could just put my two cents in and suggest that Ms. Massenet puts pen to paper for a book. I have no doubt it would sit atop the New York Times bestseller list for months, if not years. We can’t get enough.
For those of you that missed the talk, British Vogue will be airing the footage after Monday… will provide link when it becomes available.