Net-a-Porter founder Natalie Massenet revolutionised luxury retail with her e-commerce venture back in 2000. Having left the company in 2015, she now serves as non-executive co-chairman at Farfetch, working closely alongside its founder and chief executive, José Neves. In 2018, she co-founded Imaginary Ventures, a venture capital firm, with Nick Brown , and serves on the board of various portfolio brands.
Imaginary, which had a debut fund of $75 million, has invested in some of the hottest start-ups in the fashion and beauty space, including Glossier, Reformation, Everlane, Farfetch, Good American, SKIMS ( Kim Kardashian West ’s new “solutionwear” business), Hawthorne, Hum Nutrition, Necessaire, Kosas, Mejuri, Appear Here, Heist and Universal Standard, among others.
Massenet was born in the United States to a British model mother and a Californian journalist father. After studying English Literature at UCLA, she spent a year working in Tokyo as a model and a stylist. Soon after she relocated to London, where she worked as Isabella Blow’s assistant at Tatler.
In 2000, Massenet launched what would go on to become the world’s premier online luxury destination, adding off-price e-tailer The Outnet and menswear platform Mr Porter to the Net-a-Porter Group umbrella in 2009 and 2011 respectively. In 2013, a beauty component was launched, and the following year, print publication Porter Magazine debuted.
In September 2015, Massenet announced she was stepping down from her role at Net-a-Porter Group, an announcement that came just weeks ahead of the company's merger with Italian e-commerce giant, Yoox Group. “My entrepreneurial drive is as strong today as it always has been, and my passion for innovation will continue to be my greatest guide in business,” said the entrepreneur in a statement. After leaving Net-a-Porter, Massenet spent the next few months focusing on her role as chair of the British Fashion Council , to which she was appointed in 2013 and carried out until December 2017. Farfetch's chief strategy officer, Stephanie Phair , was her successor.
In February 2017, the entrepreneur confirmed she would be joining fashion e-commerce platform Farfetch as non executive co-chairman. “I’m so excited to be jumping back in. This is the space I know and love. For me it is about — and it always have been — celebrating fashion, serving the consumers and following the consumers," Massenet told BoF at the time. “The landscape has changed so much in e-commerce over the last 20 years. In order to succeed in e-commerce today, you have to be more of a platform. And rather than starting something from scratch, it’s much better to join the expert in the area.”
In 2009, Massenet was awarded an MBE, and in January 2016, she was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire; both awards were in recognition of her contributions to the UK fashion and retail industries.