Aussie Megan Quinn @ VECCI Women in Business luncheon

In this BusinessChic series, I document the various business networking events that I attend.

The VECCI Women in Business series provides a unique opportunity to catch up with contacts and meet new
customers, mentors and friends. The guest speakers are some of Australia’s most successful
female entrepreneurs, whose insights and achievements will inspire and motivate.

I was a guest at the most recent VECCI Women in Business luncheon which was held in the iconic Myer Mural Hall. Here’s an instagram pic that I snapped that captures some of the grandeur:

MC Giaan Rooney won the room over with her personable but professional demeanour setting things up beautifully for our keynote speaker; Megan Quinn, the co-founder of Net-a-Porter. Born in Brisbane (although per a piece in The Age, now residing in Melbourne), Quinn was responsible for brand development of an idea that “started at the kitchen table” and grew until it was sold in 2010 for £50 million to luxury company, Richmont.

Aussie Megan Quinn, co-founder of Net-a-Porter speaks at VECCI’s Women in Business luncheon.

MC Giaan Rooney with VECCI Chief Executive Mark Stone and Net-a-Porter co-founder, Megan Quinn.

 

I found it interesting that prior to co-founding Net-a-Porter with Natalie Massenet and their husbands, Quinn was working at an ad agency and had set up her own cleaning business called Partners in Grime. At the time that Massenet (previously a fashion editor) approached her in 1999, Quinn divulges that she had not even used the internet! So she sat herself down in an internet cafe and sought to learn as much as she could.

That done, she appears to have applied her traditional marketing know-how to create a high-end online experience. An example of this is the investment made in packaging. In order to win over designers that they wanted to stock as well as impress a discerning customer base, much effort was put into creating beautiful packaging. The boxes were assembled by hand and tied up with hand-stitched Japanese ribbon. At one stage the boxes cost as much as £20 each! However as it was the only tangible thing that their audience could experience; the investment was made. An example of knowing what elements of the business could not be cut back on…

Great anecdotes aside, there were three key points that I took away from Quinn’s talk:

  1. Know Your Customer. And for anyone who works in a financial institution, I’m not referring to AML/CTF. Quinn believes the strength of the Net-a-Porter model was that they understood that women and men operate differently so their website was one that was “built for women by women.” She also noted how useful it is to have employees who are also customers of the business in order to provide meaningful feedback to keep improving the experience.
  2. Have the Finance. So many good ideas run out of money. Quinn, Massenet and their husbands borrowed from everyone they knew but they were “so respectful of the investors and careful with their money.” Quinn mentioned that her father refused to invest £100,000. Had he done so, he would have earned  £4million when they sold the company. Ha!
  3. Constantly evolve. The Net-a-Porter website and therefore experience is constantly being tinkered with. It’s a ongoing work-in-progress that is tweaked often to cater to the needs of its audience to provide them the optimal luxury fashion experience. I found solace in this tip 😉

Those were the points that stood out to me. For a detailed wrap-up on Quinn and her talk, I recommend articles from the following sources:


Being a networking event, there was time to meet and network with fellow business women and I met some GREAT ONES! That said, I didn’t think to ask to photograph them immediately so here I am photographed with fellow fashion bloggers, Sarah Willcocks of Style Melbourne and Phoebe Montague aka Lady Melbourne Photo: LadyMelbourne on Instagram

And naturally, it was pertinent for me to document what a stylish business woman can wear to a networking lunch!

Samantha Hardman is no stranger to BusinessChic, however I felt that I had to try capture her ensemble that caught my eye:


Samantha wears vintage blazer, Bento skirt and Manolo Blahnik shoes accessorised with a Mulberry bag and cufflinks by Edenborough Evans.

I came away from this luncheon inspired by Rooney, Quinn and the women that I met during the event. In terms of the setting, I was so busy taking everything in that I didn’t think to photograph the delightful table settings or delicious three-course lunch. I go to a number of networking events but I’d highly recommend this one! By the by, I even spotted some blokes in the room too so get on it all!

Future VECCI Business events are also looking pretty special. Take a look for yourself:

As Victoria’s representative body for employers, VECCI stages a series of networking events each year to facilitate business development and put you in touch with like-minded people that could help you and your business take the next step.

Australian Chambers Business Congress
15 – 17 August
Featuring: Michael J. Fox, Randi Zuckerberg (former Head of Marketing at Facebook) and Muhammad Yunus (Nobel Peace Prize winner and founder of social business)

2012 AFL Women’s Industry Lunch
20 July
Former Olympian Nicole Livingstone will MC the event, and past Australian of the Year, Professor Fiona Wood AM is our keynote speaker. A special guest panel includes Seven’s Rebecca Maddern (The Cats’ number one ticket holder), the VFL’s first female coach Peta Searle, and Suki Hobson, Essendon Football Club Sports and Strength Scientist.

Did you do a double-take too? Amazing! Hope to see you there.

Like Events @ VECCI to receive word on future events via Facebook or follow @VECCIevents on Twitter.

 

Comments

  1. Love Samantha’s outfit, and it looks like a beautiful venue too! 🙂

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