Few might know that Alison Loehnis, president of luxury e-commerce site Net-a-Porter, was an art history major in college. Looking back, the executive says timing has played an important role in her pursuit of a career path.

“I’ve always followed my gut,” Loehnis says. “The year I graduated, the [art] market was very soft, so I decided to keep art as a hobby and look into other careers.”

She went to work for Walt Disney and LVMH Group before joining Net-a-Porter in 2011 as vice-president of sales and marketing. Last year, she took over as president of Net-a-Porter Group when it merged with Yoox, following founder Natalie Massenet’s decision to leave the company.

“I have never had a plan with regard to my career, but I have always [looked] for the opportunity and taken that opportunity when it presented itself.”

In today’s fast-changing fashion realm, having the ability to adapt quickly to change is crucial for executives, and Loehnis fully embraces the spirit that goes with the need to adapt to change.

“The fashion cycle moves incredibly fast with designers showing collections throughout the entire year,” she says. “Over time, the consumer has become increasingly engaged with the shows, so the shift to ‘see now, buy now’ is a logical response to the customer’s needs.” Net-a-Porter was early to embrace the transition towards see-now-buy-now, and this enables it to cater to the tech-savvy, sophisticated shopper.

‘Me’ time is very important. I like to visit museums and art galleries and see the latest exhibitions
Alison Loehnis

“We are a nimble business and we’re always looking for the next way to give [to] our customers.”

Despite giving her all at work, Loehnis also seizes every opportunity to spend time with her family.

“Over time and with experience you learn your priorities and what it is that makes you and your family happy so that you are living a life you are comfortable with,” Loehnis says. “No one has a stress-free existence, but I have found a balance I am happy with. I love my work, but my family has always come first.”

E-commerce might be the path her career is on now, but Loehnis has not given up her passion for the arts and has also picked up other stress-relieving activities along the way. Her round-the-clock business is never offline, but Loehnis has discovered ways to slow things down in her private life.

“‘Me’ time is very important. I like to visit museums and art galleries and see the latest exhibitions,” she says. “I also love running. It gives me a chance to think. Pilates too. On the weekend, we go to the countryside in Gloucestershire [in England] and I’ll try and find some time to read and catch up on a bit of sleep.” VC