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Why the Founders of Senreve Built a Fashion Brand in Silicon Valley Fashion is all about insider status, but to truly innovate, these founders wanted to break away from the pack.

By Stephanie Schomer

This story appears in the September 2020 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Senreve

Coral Chung and Wendy Wen had built successful careers in business consulting and investment banking, respectively. When they both ended up doing some work with storied luxury fashion brands (Chung with Prada, and Wen with Chanel), the Stanford business school grads identified the same big problem: Nobody was taking a digital-first approach to serving professional millennial women — so they decided to try. Chung and Wen created Senreve, a direct-to-consumer luxury fashion brand, and launched their first product in 2016. (It's called Maestra, a bag that can be worn as a tote, a crossbody, or a backpack and has enough space for the many tools of a busy executive.) Since then, Senreve has exploded, being embraced by celebrities like Selma Blair and Priyanka Chopra, and raising $23 million. How'd they do it? By owning their outsider status.

1. Select your home base.

Industry insiders told Chung and Wen to base their company in New York, fashion's epicenter. But they decided on Silicon Valley instead. "There are a lot of D2C businesses coming out of New York, and it is a bubble, to a degree," Chung says. "You look at so-and-so's website and it looks just like another brand's, and you can tell what agency they used. But we're outside that bubble. Especially in the beginning, not being in that echo chamber was a huge pro."