Last updated: May 26, 2012 12:03 am

The Inventory: Natalie Massenet

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Natalie Massenet

Natalie Massenet, 46, is the founder of Net-A-Porter, the hugely successful luxury fashion retail website. She later founded the high fashion discount site The Outnet and Mr Porter, a fashion site for men. She was appointed MBE in 2009 for services to the fashion industry.


On this story

IN FT Magazine

What was your earliest ambition?

To be a photojournalist.

Public school or state school? University or straight into work?

I attended private Catholic schools in Paris and Los Angeles through high school. I graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles, with an English literature degree and travelled for a year before going to work.

Who was or still is your mentor?

I don’t have a mentor in the strict definition. I take as much advice and inspiration as I can from the people I am close to. Sometimes, though, I ask myself: “How would Audrey Hepburn handle this?”

How physically fit are you?

I don’t work out but generally I am fit, which is why I don’t work out.

Ambition or talent: which matters more to success?

Ambition is important. Of course you can’t get anywhere without talent, but there are a lot of talented people. To succeed you have to be the most ambitious talented person.

Have you ever taken an IQ test?


How politically committed are you?

I vote. I have donated money to campaigns. And I have been known to take to the street in protest. But I am more committed to my immediate politics than general politics.

Do you consider your carbon footprint?

Not as much as I should.

Do you have more than one home?


What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?

I have a dream house in mind in upstate NY. And a waffle maker.

What’s your biggest extravagance?

Sleep. Not answering emails on the weekends. Ignoring voicemails.

Tom Aikens©Corbis

Ms Massenet hopes to learn to cook like Tom Aikens

In what place are you happiest?

I am only unhappy at 30,000ft in a plane.

What ambitions do you still have?

To be a great mom to my daughters. To make a movie. To learn to cook like Tom Aikens. To learn to be happy at 30,000ft in a plane.

What drives you on?


What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?

My relationship with my daughters. And the stuff I am still learning that I hope to share with them one day.

What has been your greatest disappointment?

I don’t like to dwell on that. But all of my disappointments I am responsible for. I was pretty shocked when my cousin Tom told me there was no Santa Claus.

If you had a coat of arms, what would be on it?

Natalie Massenet's coat of arms

Angel wings, a birch branch, a cherry blossom (I looked them up on the internet) – and the big grin emoticon

If your 20-year-old self could see you now, what would she think?

“I like you.”

If you lost everything tomorrow, what would you do?

There are some things in “everything” that, if I lost them, would make it impossible to go on. But if it’s just the material stuff – home, work, possessions – then I would thank God the rest was still there and start over.

Do you believe in assisted suicide?


Do you believe in an afterlife?

Yes. And a before life.

If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?

9.5 (there’s a joke from When Harry Met Sally in there...).

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