Coral Chung of Senreve talks about designing handbags for fellow power women and the ladies who inspire her
Ever find yourself struggling to find a stylish yet sensible work bag as multifaceted as you are? Enter Senreve, the brand making waves for redefining the carryall tote.
So often bags labelled as such can’t carry all so much as just a MacBook Air and a charger—if you’re lucky. Senreve’s versatile totes are spacious and structured enough to fit a 13-inch laptop with plenty of pockets to host every accessory you need, as well as interchangeable straps and chains to take you from day to night.
So it’s no wonder that celebrities and power women alike are putting their most popular Maestra and Doctor totes out of stock every week. We popped by the Senreve pop-up at Maison Huit in Hong Kong to speak to co-founder and ex-Silicon Valley mogul Coral Chung on how it all began.
Your background is in business and marketing, how did you decide to go into handbag design and production?
It came out of my personal experience of just never being able to find the perfect handbag that fits my lifestyle. I used to use a Prada bag (I worked on Prada’s IPO in Hong Kong) and it was beautiful, but it collapsed and had a dark black lining so I could never find anything—it was a bottomless pit.
I always felt like there should be something better and I realised a lot of women probably felt the same way. [Starting Senreve] was very fulfilling because in business, I worked in a tech company and the product is software which is not tangible. So to create a physical product that hundreds of women are using every day is so motivating.
Who were you most excited to see wearing your bag?
I am personally inspired by female executives. One of our first customers was Jenny Ming, one of the top executives of Gap, former board member of Barney’s New York and now CEO of Charlotte Russe. It’s so great for me to have someone I look up to use our bag every day.
Selma Blair owns maybe four of our bags including the Maestra, the Doctor and the small crossbody. She’s a very genuine brand ambassador for us. More recently Priyanka Chopra has been wearing our bag in the forest Mini Maestra on her Baywatch press tour. Because of her, a lot of South Asian women starting becoming more aware of our brand which is exciting, allowing us to capture the attention of a different market.
Do you find a difference between your Asian customers versus your American customers?
Actually, I think we’re speaking to the professional woman who has a similar lifestyle. She travels a lot and lives in a big city so even though we launched in the U.S., Hong Kong has already become a significant market compared to another city in the States.
For Hong Kong, I think people like the Mini Maestra because the women here are just more petite and they love the backpack functionality because people don’t drive here, but in L.A. people like the Doctor bag because they drive. Hong Kong women are also very stylish; they love the uniqueness and they’re early adopters which is why we’re offering monogramming as well as a made-to-order option.
What would we usually find in your handbag?
When I meet partners or investors, I would show them my bag and I always have my passport in it because I’m always travelling. This week I’m in Hong Kong and from here I’m going to Bali. Right before this, I was in L.A., New York, London, and Itay.
I go to Italy once a month because we manufacture in Florence. I always have my laptop, phone and usually two chequebooks, and in our secret compartment for knick-knacks, I have vitamins or candies. That’s usually my gamut.
What are some apps you’re loving?
For our business, we use Slack because we’re such a spread-out team. For ride sharing in New York, there’s a new app called Juno that’s 15 percent more discounted than Lyft or Uber. I use Calm for meditation and sleeping because they do bedtime for adults and I use GlamSquad for quick hair and makeup on the spot.
What’s next for Senreve?
We only launched nine months ago, so we want to build on our existing momentum. We feel there’s a long way to go with our current products so our priority right now is to introduce new colours and try out different exotic leathers while making sure that the materials must always be versatile, not scratch easily and be resistant.
We are developing some new shapes like a belt bag (similar to a fanny pack) some larger totes and exploring other sizes of our existing bags so stay tuned.
Find out more at senreve.com.