Beyond the Entrepreneur: Natalie Massenet

Name: Natalie Massenet

Written by: Stephen Chadwick


The numbers: She’s reputed to be worth £143m (source: Sunday Times Rich List)

How did she do it? Born in Los Angeles, Massenet was a writer for Women’s Wear Daily before moving to London. In 2000 she founded digital clothing emporium Net-a-Porter from her flat in Chelsea, stacking delivery boxes in the bath (apparently). The company took off after Massenet persuaded Roland Mouret to sell a collection on the site.

She offloaded a £50m stake in 2010, reinvested £15m then sold her remaining holding for £100m.

She left the company in 2015, and 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.

A keen eye for the next best thing then? Oh yes. 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, SKIMS ( Kim Kardashian West’s “solutionwear” business), Hawthorne, Hum Nutrition, Necessaire, Kosas, Mejuri, Appear Here, Heist and Universal Standard, among others.

Best quote:  She once described how she received backing – for what was then an entirely novel concept – from friends such as Tamara Mellon (then at Jimmy Choo) and Anya Hindmarch:

“I called them from my sofa right when I had the idea and said, ‘It’s going to be like a magazine, there will be a girl in a bikini on a white horse and you can click on her bikini and buy it.’ They were like, ‘Great!’”


Admiring the entrepreneurs of yesterday, supporting the entrepreneurs of today

Anything else? A former head of the British Fashion Council, she was made a dame in the 2016 new year honours list.