In Conversation with Coral Chung of SENREVE
Describe your business in a few words?
Inspired by the modern multi-faceted woman, SENREVE is a digitally native handbag brand revolutionizing luxury.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
I grew up in a very entrepreneurial family, so I’ve always wanted to start my own brand. The biggest inspiration for me to start SENREVE was actually motherhood. I felt strongly that I needed to pursue something professionally that I felt just as passionate about as my family. Hence, I had a “startup baby” after my biological one.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
I started my career in strategy consulting, worked for a variety of startups and also at Prada right before the company’s IPO which was an exciting time. Right before SENREVE, I was leading retail at Medallia, a tech company that had a successful $1.4B IPO last summer.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
Yes and no. I dreamt about it, but for a long time I had ideas and dreams and didn’t really act on it. I gave myself a lot of excuses like “it’s not the right time” or “it’s not the right idea.”
Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?
Social media, word-of-mouth, and organic press and editorial coverage were all really important. But actually our biggest marketing strategy was having a distinctive, high-quality product that women wanted and needed in their lives!
We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?
Building a company is challenging and humbling, and I make mistakes all the time. One of the biggest mistakes in the early days of SENREVE was we almost worked with a designer who was not a good fit, who didn’t fully understand the vision, and was extremely negative. Thankfully we didn’t up going through with it, however, we spent a lot of time and energy trying to work it out which was very difficult.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
I’m so proud of SENREVE becoming a global brand. Over the summer we had a pop-up event in Hong Kong that attracted around 10K visitors. I think the multi-faceted women we serve today are all global citizens in a way, so it’s exciting to me that we ship to over 200 countries around the world. Another cool moment was when Lady Gaga shared our Maestra Bag with the our iconic tagline “don’t be a rockstar, be a legend” on her Instagram.
When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?
I love asking candidates about their whole life story from birth. I find that most people focus on their resumes and go straight into their first job experience, but actually a lot of things predate that. I want to understand what really motivates them, what they’re passionate about, and how they’ll be a cultural fit for SENREVE.
How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
It’s been a challenging year especially when our manufacturing in Italy was shut down when the pandemic hit them hard in March – June. However, our team and community has been incredibly resilient. We’ve been very creative in launching our SENREVE at Home Collection of cashmere loungewear, 100% shearling slippers, silk masks, natural & vegan candles. We’re also proud to create a platform called Selected by SENREVE where we curate products and brands we love from female founders and BIPOC owners.
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
We’re so thrilled to continue growing our product range. We recently launched our 100% vegan products that are not only luxurious and beautiful, but also animal free. We have also expanded into other product categories and will continue to do so. We have some exciting and major partnerships in the works. All the while growing our global presence.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?
It’s important to stay optimistic and be flexible during times of uncertainty. It’s ok to have a plan, and throw it out to make a new one tomorrow.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?
I’ve learned a lot along the way, but I’m glad that I was oblivious to certain things. I think it gave me a certain irrational confidence that I really needed. So sometimes it’s better to not know everything in advance.
How have you managed to stay grounded this year?
I’ve been trying to stick to meditation 2-3 times per week, working out regularly and spending time outdoors. It’s really important to break up the monotony of doing virtual meetings for 12-14 hours straight.
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
I believe in integrating work & life. I think it’s all about changing things up and not get too locked into a routine that is too structured. At the same time, it’s important to have a plan. We do a family meeting every Monday to kick off the week, and I do a Monday all-hands meeting as well. It’s helpful to align on priorities all around.
What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
I’m extremely introverted, so networking events are my worst nightmare.
What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?
Meditate in the morning to clear your mind, add some spaces in between meetings on the calendar so that you’re not always running late, eat an afternoon snack
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
Being fearless, loyal and supportive of other women founders, and paving the way for the next generation of change makers.