Fashion accessories brand, Senreve is about more than just luxury leather goods. Co-founders Coral Chung and Wendy Wen explain the important messaging behind their concept and how they made it big in the bag business.
Born out a personal need for an “it” bag that is fashionable, durable and affordable for the modern woman, the two friends Coral and Wendy aimed to fill a gap in the market. Back in 2016, the duo established the Senreve brand, and their first carryall, the Maestra bag. Using premium quality Italian leather in a timeless design that is both stylish and incredibly functional, the Maestra became an instant hit. We chat with the entrepreneurs to learn how they turned a simple idea into a successful startup business.
Names: Coral Chung and Wendy Wen
Profession: CEO and COO
Industry: Luxury Fashion
Start up since: November 2016
Company size: Team of 30 globally, have raised over US$23M in capital to date
Tell us about your business. What do you do?
Coral Chung (CC): Senreve is a global luxury fashion brand known for our iconic handbag styles. We have grown tremendously over the past 3 years because women around the world love and appreciate the authentic beauty, luxury quality and unique versatility of our products.
Tell me about your best and worst day at work?
CC: The best days are when I’m feeling incredibly creative and generating new ideas that are revolutionising luxury and fashion. For example, we are very focused on sustainability and have created a 100% vegan luxury bag recently. I love the importance of creating something that is truly new in the world. Worsts days are usually when I feel like there are a million different fires to fight in all the different time zones that we operate in.
Wendy Wen (WW): The best days usually involve speaking with our loyal customers who gush about how much they love our bags. The worst days are when I feel like we’ve let a customer or teammate down.
What do you do when you’re not at work?
WW: I spend time with my dog Pokie and relax by doing outdoor activities like hikes.
CC: I have a 7-year-old daughter who is very demanding of my attention, so I try to be 100% present when I’m hanging out with her. Also, work and life blend together, for example last year going to the Met Gala was work, but was it really?
Looking back now, what would you have done differently?
CC: There are too many littles things we could have done differently, but we made all the right big decisions.
WW: I don’t believe in looking backwards!
What is a normal work day like?
WW: I like to workout in the morning, then I usually check emails and have back to back team meetings, as well as 1:1, sometimes investor calls, etc.
CC: My day starts usually with me meeting with our team in Italy and ends with meeting with our team in Hong Kong. In between, I also have a ton of meetings internally and externally. Prior to COVID-19 I used to travel all the time to Florence, New York, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, London and all over, but now I’m doing everything virtually.
What advice would you give to someone looking to start up?
CC: Pursue it with passion and determination and be prepared to make a lot of sacrifices along the way, but it will all be worth it.
What would you be doing if you weren’t doing what you do now?
WW: I’d probably still be an investor and a “wantrepreneur”.
As a child, what did you aspire to be?
CC: I grew up in an entrepreneurial household so I really admired strong female entrepreneurs and leaders. I remember really looking up to Andrea Jung, former CEO of Avon, because she was the first Chinese female CEOs of a Fortune 500 company. I also had a creative side and thought about pursuing a professional dance or acting career (which my parents highly discouraged me from doing!).
What has been your biggest hurdle?
WW: Taking the plunge! I had discussed for hours and hours with Coral before she convinced me to join her in going on this crazy adventure and starting Senreve.
How did you overcome it?
WW: I have great chemistry and trust with Coral and aligned well with her vision. I also knew that even if we failed, at least we will have tried and still have a solid foundation to fall back on.
Why is Hong Kong an important market for you?
CC: Hong Kong is near and dear to me personally because it was where I first started my career after university. I always loved how vibrant, dynamic and international Hong Kong is. Women in Hong Kong are definitely savvy and stylish, but also intense, highly intelligent, appreciate quality and are global trendsetters. In fact, Hong Kong was the first market outside of the U.S. we shipped to since our launch because so many women made requests. We’re also so thrilled for Hong Kong to be the first place for us to have a standalone pop-up store at the iconic Pacific Place.
If you were to invest in another start up, which would it be?
WW: I’m a big animal lover, so likely something related to animals or pets.
CC: I’m very passionate about women’s health and fertility, so would be excited to invest in companies in these areas.
How hands-on are you?
CC: We’re both extremely hands-on and involved daily with all the details ranging from our social media posts to our operational processes. We’re both very protective, sensitive and representative of our Senreve core brand values of wit, innovation, freedom, empowerment, and elegance in everything we do.
How did you feel when you first found out international celebrities were fans of Senreve?
CC: I was so thrilled when Lady Gaga and Angelina Jolie wore our bags. I think it’s rewarding to have inspiring women who wear our products around the world as Senreve ambassadors.
WW: Super excited and proud! Especially when celebs like Ali Wong who I personally love use our bags daily.
How do you define success? Do you consider yourself being successful?
CC: Personally, I define success as always growing and learning. I love challenges and solving problems. I also love what I’m doing everyday, so that makes me feel successful.
WW: Senreve has definitely succeeded beyond my wildest dreams. I think happiness is also is an important part of success.
What’s next for Senreve?
CC: Senreve has been growing rapidly since our launch, and we’re really excited about our recent initiatives in Asia. We plan on doing more pop-ups like our Pacific Place pop-up store. We’re also introducing new styles and shapes including in our 100% vegan materials. Finally, we’ve always envisioned becoming a multi-category lifestyle brand, so we’re starting to introduce cashmere, silks, and other products over the next few months as well.
This story first appeared in Prestige Hong Kong.
(Main and featured image: Prestige Hong Kong)