Ignoring Industry Wisdom Propelled this Brand to Success in Less Than 12 Months
SENREVE founders reveal the importance of staying true to your vision even when it goes against expert advice
Back in November 2016, Entrepreneur featured SENREVE's launch by sharing some of the best advice the founders Coral Chung and Wendy Wen had received. Now they share why it was important to ignore the following three pieces of advice from fashion industry veterans.
"You don't have deep enough expertise to start a handbag company."
Chung and Wen believed their backgrounds in finance, consulting and tech provided them with an advantage—not a detriment—in starting a handbag brand because they approached luxury retail with a fresh, customer-centric perspective.
"Instead of following traditional approaches, we moved forward based on what made sense to us," Wen says. "In particular, we felt like existing handbags were either functional or luxurious. Our mission was to empower women with both."
They recruited a team with deep handbag expertise to help execute upon this vision. Chung met with many factories around the world before deciding to partner with a family-owned factory near Florence, Italy that has generations of experience working with luxury handbag brands."
"You need to launch with a wide assortment of products to be taken seriously by influential retailers."
The SENREVE founders believed in prioritizing a different objective—creating a focused set of products that they knew customers would love rather than a vast array of designs to fill in-store displays. Furthermore, by launching exclusively on their website, SENREVE maintained the flexibility to introduce new products at their own pace. They spent months perfecting two products—the Maestra, designed for 13-inch laptops, and the Doctor, for 11-inch laptops.
Only after SENREVE had fully captured the attention of a loyal customer base (with Maestras selling out within three weeks of launch) did they gradually expand their collection. "Controlling our own distribution in the beginning allowed us to release new products thoughtfully, rather than being constrained by the traditional seasonal fashion calendar," Chung says.
"Women who love luxury bags don't care about functionality. They will accept the bag for the design."
As savvy handbag consumers, Chung and Wen knew that women would love handbags that were not only beautiful in design but also functional. To test this hypothesis, Chung and Wen surveyed hundreds of women and learned that versatility, security, comfortable straps, and laptop compartments were among the critical features missing from available options. They developed designs that met these requirements and continued to incorporate customer feedback at every step of the development process.
"We don't want to create products that customers merely accept," Wen says. "We want women to love their SENREVE bags—for their design and their usability," Chung adds. The Maestra became an instant hit because of the clean aesthetics and unique versatility: it can be worn as a backpack, satchel, crossbody, or tote, transitioning between these orientations with adjustable straps.
Since its launch last November, SENREVE bags have sold out multiple times, received fashion industry praise, and won the hearts of A-list celebrities and social media influencers. The brand continues to listen closely to their customers, and recently launched the Mini Maestra due to popular demand for a more petite version of the Maestra (which still fits an iPad).
Explore SENREVE's re-definition of luxury at senreve.com. Get free U.S. shipping and free returns, plus a lifetime warranty on all products.
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