“These are the businesses that are going to change our lives, how we shop, what we eat, how we feel, what we wear and how we disrupt the world of retail for a new generation of consumers,” said Natalie Massenet yesterday at the official launch of venture capital firm Imaginary. Marking her return to e-commerce, the founder of Net-A-Porter has joined forces with Nick Brown, formerly a partner at the venture capital firm 14W, to back early-stage direct-to-consumer brands, and the firm has just closed its first fund of $75 million in capital commitments.
Announcing the news on Instagram Natalie said, “The businesses that will endure will be those that build their strategies around an authentic understanding of their consumers and never lose sight of them as they grow. This is at the heart of all the emerging brands, platforms and retail solutions that we are investing in.” And to date, Imaginary counts beauty brand Glossier, sustainable fashion retailers Reformation and Everlane, hosiery company Heist, the size-inclusive denim label Good American founded by Khloe Kardashian and Emma Grede, and Farfetch, the luxury online fashion platform, where she currently serves as non-executive chairman, among its portfolio.
Among the investors in Imaginary's first fund are Carmen, as well as Rick Caruso, the CEO of the Caruso Real Estate Group, and co-founders and joint chairmen of matchesfashion.com Tom and Ruth Chapman.
While acknowledging that online discovery and distribution platforms have made it easier than ever to launch a business, Natalie is quick to caution how they have also made it even more challenging for them to thrive long-term. “I was lucky enough to have extraordinary angel investors and mentors giving me much-needed funding and advice along my journey,” she said, “and it’s a privilege to be able to return the favor.”