The Inventory: 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.

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.

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 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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