‘It Was Enormously Hard’ Starting A Business While Pregnant

Surprise: Starting a major international company is difficult. Doing it while pregnant is extra-difficult. So says Natalie Massenet, who founded the major online fashion portal Net-a-Porter while pregnant with her first child.

“At the same time when I started writing the business plan I was also pregnant,” she said at the Vogue Fashion Festival this weekend, in a report from the Daily Mail. “And I think fuelled by hormones and delusions that if I could build a baby why not a business?”

Her daughter is now 13, and the company was valued at more than $500 million a few years ago. But it was a tough beginning, with her initial team of 15 working from a London apartment, using one bedroom as an office and the other as a makeshift distribution center. They received orders on a laptop hooked up to a dial-up internet connection. “I was so traumatised by having a baby and starting a business in the same year that it took six years for the next one to come along,” Massenet said. (She was referring to her second baby, not her second million-dollar business.)

Because this is the Daily Mail, they put a totally absurd, quasi-misogynist gloss on the story, framing it terms of “having it all” when Massenet doesn’t seem to have used that language at all, and making it seem as if she actively regrets her choices rather than just reflecting back on a tough but worthwhile period in her life.

Also, this LOL-worthy photo caption: “Natalie Massenet is considered one of the few woman to have been able to have it all.” Oh, really? By whom?

Anyway, ignoring them. All Massenet seems to be saying is that starting a business is hard, especially a successful website, and so is having a baby, but that life is good overall. “The reality is women do it all the time, and thankfully we have mentors and women around us who can inspire us.” We do, indeed.

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