By Veena Krishnan
Wendy Wen, Chief Operating Officer and co-founder of Senreve, is carving out her niche in the fashion industry. After graduating ΦBK from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2009 with two bachelor’s degrees, Wen entered the Stanford University Graduate School of Business for her MBA. Prior to launching Senreve in 2017, she was part of Chanel's Sales and Planning Department, as an investor for TPG and Anthos Capital. Wen also worked an investment banker for the Blackstone Group and Goldman Sachs.
Senreve, a combination of the French words sens and rêver, which mean “sense” and “dream” respectively, focuses on creating luxury handbags for the Millennial generation. With that goal in mind, Wen and Senreve co-founder Coral Chung have created a completely online retail store and design handbags that allow working women to carry their technology while being able to maintain an elegant, streamlined look. According to “Silicon Valley Takes on Luxury With New Handbag Line,” from Women’s Wear Daily, the company also tries to keep its prices below $1,000, further demonstrating its commitment to increasingly budget-conscious professionals. The line, considered revolutionary by many for its unusual business plan, has made a big splash in the world of fashion, with style icons like Priyanka Chopra and Jenna Dewan Tatum recently wearing the brand.
In an interview for the Huffington Post’s Women in Business, Wen addressed the varied aspects of running a growing fashion empire, paying particular attention to the challenges that all entrepreneurs, especially women, face in starting a company. She indicated that the most challenging aspect of running Senreve is working with limited resources and managing to assign the appropriate staff to the right position as the company continues to grow. She also talked about how important it is to maintain a work-life balance, stating that “friendships are an important source of balance” and that maintaining one’s most intimate relationships is key to preserving a businessperson’s lifestyle. In relation to her opinions on female entrepreneurs, Wen explains that women are expected to be like an octopus (which, coincidentally, is the brand’s key image) and manage all aspects of their life without appearing to struggle. Wen is focused on using the brand to highlight the subtle sexism and biases that hinder women in the workplace and using her position to contribute to a national discussion on these issues.
It is tempting to limit Wen's impact to being a woman in a male-dominated business culture. Yet, Senreve is a brand that combines the fast-paced world of modern technology with the old-school class of Italian leather to create a novel brand that is targeted towards the working woman. In Senreve, Wen and Chung are striving to foster a new type of company, one that has both economic and social impacts.
Veena Krishnan is a junior at Birmingham-Southern College majoring in chemistry and minoring in biology. Birmingham-Southern College is home to the Beta of Alabama Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.