Monday, 29 April 2013

The Vogue Festival 2013: Natalie Massenet and the first Instagram biography

My birthday present from Ruby was a ticket to hear the amazing Natalie Massenet speak about her life so far through what might be the first Instagram biography at The Vogue Festival 2013 in association with Vertu.

I am a huge fan of successful women in business and hearing her speak about what lead her to launch Net-A-Porter inspired me to no end. I think that the most refreshing part of her journey was that she wasn't born knowing exactly what she wanted to do, but all of her experiences taught her lessons that she still uses in running her business. Wearing a beautiful dress by Victoria Beckham, Natalie told her story so far.

Joking about her journalist father and model mother as content and commerce, she began her life in Madrid later moving to Paris. Then after her parents' divorce she moved with her father to LA.

In high school she became very interested in photography. This was her favourite hobby. One of her saddest moments was when she didn't get accepted into Princeton University, but ended up having the best time of her life in UCLA which taught her to "trust that everything will be okay." It was also there where through joining a sorority, she learned about recruitment, marketing and being part of a community.

After university, she wanted to go to Tokyo for a year as she learned Japanese during her studies. Her father bought her a return ticket, a 3 night stay in a hotel, and $200 spending money. She joked that he probbaly thought that she would come back 3 days later. On her first day she got signed with a modeling agency and stayed the full year. At 5'6, she admitted that the jobs and shoots she was sent on were not glamorous at the best of times, but it was the overall experience that she enjoyed.

After her year in Tokyo, she returned to LA to pursue film making. Instead she became a production assistant. Although it was not what she had in mind, it taught her a lot about budgets and managing people.

Her first fashion job was working for the fashion magazine, Moda. Making herself indispensable and exceeding expectations made her very successful in the industry. She then went to work for Tatler in London, first in the Features and then moving into the Fashion Department. During this time, she noticed the disconnect between runway shows and stores, but her first business ideas were different. She wanted to start a luxury candle business or a cafe. These ideas didn't grow though as she was told that they wouldn't be successful. Looking back, she said that you should never let others talk you out of your dreams.

1999 came and with a love affair with her computer, she started Net-A-Porter a year later. Finding a gap in the market, the website gave women a chance to shop everything in fashion shoots. The website got a lot of positive press. When the business launched, she was also a new mother. She joked about it being quite a struggle so much so that her second daughter was born 6 years later. She also laughed about telling people that she is building a future consumer base one child at a time.

Today the business has offices on 3 continents and Natalie is the chairman of the British Fashion Council.

What a truly inspiring life story!

The outtake: "The harder you work the luckier you get..." and "There is no recipe for success. It's as unique as you are..."

Follow @nataporter_mystorysofar on Instagram to read and see the full story as told by the lady herself.

Just a few snaps from the day....

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