She’s smart, intuitive and has a flair for fashion. Kate Davis is an Englishwoman who has been living in Paris for over nine years. A lawyer by trade, Kate launched Nettement Chic in January 2012. Now, shoppers flock to her beautiful website to discover what she and her team are featuring from the best French online boutiques offering fashion, accessories, beauty, decoration and children’s clothing. Four years on, Nettement Chic is a one-stop guide for e-shopping and boasts 150 partners.
And to think, the idea for her dream business began with a fabulous wedding dress bought online!
Kate, why leave the bar in England to come to Paris?
I was seconded to Paris for six months by the firm I was with at the time, Clifford Chance. I was in the corporate department assisting on cross-border deals with a UK element. On my first day in the office here I met my husband! I have now been here for 10 years – one year of that at Clifford Chance, five with Linklaters, another international law firm, and four years founding Nettement Chic.
What was the pivotal moment that inspired you to leap from law to business and create Nettement Chic?
I was surrounded by girls in law, in banks, in advertising and in consulting who loved fashion and loved to shop but had absolutely no time. There was very little awareness in France at that time (my business plan was written five years ago) of platforms like Net-a-Porter or ASOS. When my wedding dress was delivered in its beautiful black box from Net-a-Porter, everyone in the office thought I was mad! That was the moment I decided to create an online shopping guide.
So it’s true that you are a big e-shopper and even bought your wedding dress on-line!
Absolutely! That doesn’t mean that I don’t love to go to shops. I do! In fact, I love nothing more than to wander around London or Paris when it’s quiet and discover places like Astier de Villatte or Merci. But, in reality, it hardly ever happens as I don’t have time. And that’s where online shopping comes in. That sense of discovery exists increasingly online now. There are so many beautiful sites with wonderful editorial – you can spend hours just “wandering” and falling in love with beautiful things.
How does Nettement Chic differ from other e-shopping fashion websites?
First and foremost, we are not a shop and we are not uniquely a fashion site. We are a lifestyle platform that aids discovery and facilitates the online find. We curate the best sites in the fashion, accessories, beauty, homeware and children’s sectors. We then curate the products from those sites that we love. And last, but not least, we create masses of content around those sites and products to make the online experience more qualitative and enjoyable.
Who is the Nettement Chic woman? How far reaching is your target audience?
I like to think that the NC woman is quite close to me and to the founders of the sites that we work with. Many of them say they set up their business to fill a gap and I think that this is the clue to who our target customer is. She is extremely busy, loves to shop for fashion and for her home but doesn’t have the time. She travels a lot, and has an international outlook. So she loves to discover brands from elsewhere and bring them home to the envy of her friends!
And last but not least, she is a “mixer”: buying from Zara on the mainstream side, a tiny shop that no one knows for jewelry or perfume, Net-a-Porter once in a while for investment pieces and a brocante or an antique market for her home. The “plethoric” approach to shopping is perhaps what characterizes her best.
Where do you get your fashion inspiration?
English Vogue, the sites I spend forever on like Net-a-Porter, My Theresa and Matches Fashion, people I see in the street, Pinterest… my sister, who works in fashion, always looks awesome and has an ability to spot a bargain at a hundred paces.
There is such a great selection of clothing and accessories on your website. How do you find and curate your choice of online partners?
We really do only work with sites we love. First and foremost there has to be a coup de coeur, a real sense of “oh wow”. Sometimes, I have sites in mind but I don’t know the team and I spend months chasing them until they agree to join us. Sometimes they contact us, and it takes no time at all. There is no strict rule other than the need for an immediate sense that we love the site and the products and that we are proud to present them to our readers.
What empowers you to go on during those difficult entrepreneurial moments?
Increasingly I distance myself from the problem, take a break, go out for supper, sleep, realize that it’s unlikely to be the end of the world – and then I go back to work. Plus, I believe in tenacity. I never, ever give up!
In February, you became co-founder of Maison St Honoré. Is this new business a ‘pivot’ encouraged by Nettement Chic or a whole new business adventure?
It’s a whole new venture, which was born out of Nettement Chic. Our business at NC is content creation. Increasingly, partners and brands were asking us to help them create content, improve the look and feel of their sites, translate French content into English and vice versa. We rolled all these services into a creative agency called Maison St Honoré, which I founded this year with my partner Alexandra Perrin.
What’s the best part of your day at Nettement Chic?
Coffee in the morning when I arrive and it’s quiet, and champagne on Friday with the team and the girls we share our office with. We don’t do it every Friday. But, when we do, it’s always lovely and everyone goes home for the weekend thinking NC is a good place to work! Or at least that’s what I hope!