Hi, I'm Sudeshna from The Abundance Psyche, and you are listening to the Not-so-Corporate podcast. Here we talk about all of the not-so-corporate things that we corporate entrepreneurs do within and outside our work.
And today, I have with me, Svenja Tegtmeier. She founded Saenguin Suits. She is a fashion and tech entrepreneur. She used to be a management consultant… In fact quite a lot of people, I tend to speak to are former management consultants who are on their entrepreneurship journeys.
Svenja is really passionate about women in leadership. And she wants to bring that to the forefront using her current business. Svenja, I'm so excited to have you. Welcome to the show.
Thank you so much for having me. It's awesome to be here.
So tell us a bit more about you. You used to work with EY...
Yeah. So I’ll start from the beginning right out of grad school. I went to LSE in London. That's where the love from London comes from, where you're currently situated. And after grad school, I first worked for the United Nations and was in Panama. And then, I went into management consulting, as a lot of business graduates do. I went to EY Parthenon which is the strategy arm of EY. I worked a lot on strategy, turnaround, and restructuring projects. I did that till the end of last year. And now I'm a full-time entrepreneur.
That's amazing. So some would say that you gave up quite a lucrative corporate career. You used to work with the UN and now you have quit consulting, a very prestigious consulting firm, and started your own thing and that too, dare I say, in the middle of a pandemic. What happened?
Good question. A lot of people ask the same thing. And I don’t know what happened, honestly, like, I think I came to a point… As I was doing my consulting job, we actually started developing a few products. And that was already at the end of 2019.
So far before the pandemic, and we already planned to quit our jobs in spring, or summer 2020. And then 2020 came. We actually launched like three days before all of Europe went into lockdown. So it was for sure a very interesting phase.
And yeah, and then we kept the job a little longer than we first anticipated. So it was it was quite nice that we still had that security, and were able to just stick it out a little longer. But I honestly came to a point in the job, I just couldn't do it anymore. I was so passionate about this side project and then required more and more calls.
Also, during the day, I needed to just be available, right? The weekends and Friday nights only serve you for so long, especially once you start working with customers. And you just have to be on 24/7, and at some point, it just takes also all of your energy in order to make it big. Otherwise, that will always be a small side hustle. So yeah, I guess we did the crazy thing and quit a corporate job for a startup in the middle of a pandemic of business where startup fashion startup on top of that, so I'm for sure interesting, but I'll be able to tell him a little bit more in a couple of years.
I'm sure it'll all work out fine. I'm sure there will be something that you can think of- you are a smart problem-solving entrepreneur. So you will definitely have it your way. But tell us a bit more about the side project. Actually, you built this up as a side project you said and I noticed you said: “we”. So how did you plan and manage time alongside your very demanding consulting career where we ended up spending like 14-16 hour days working on our day job. When did you find time for Saenguin?
Yeah. And so when I say we, I mean me and my co-founder, Marie Tom, and we actually met in London, during grad school and then went into the same company.
She was in Vienna and I was at the time in Munich and then moved to the Berlin office. So we were kind of remote I guess in different locations, but at the same company, and honestly, looking back now I don't really remember how we did it because there were times for sure it was it was a little crazy.
Especially once it got a little busier, I would say, in the beginning, it was quite doable, and just thinking about it because it's quite self-determined, right? Like you just think of the idea. You do some project, product development, you think of some projects for marketing and all that stuff. And it's really just you and another co-founder if you have one. And that was completely manageable.
We were just jumping on calls on Saturdays and Sundays, and we loved it, right. So it was the best hobby in the universe to just do it on the side.
And then increasingly, it got more and more difficult. Because we were also travelling, so Monday through Thursday, sometimes I would not eat because I had to do some really important calls for the business. I would go outside in the parking lot at our client and just do the calls.
My manager asked me if I have a really bad smoking addiction or something because, towards the end of the project, I was always in the parking lot. And I mean, I still did my job. And I think I did a good job but yeah, it for sure we got a little interesting."
And then Thursday nights and stuff flying home or driving home from the client, I would usually either drive to Vienna or London or wherever. If we needed to check the product in London, we would fly to London or just hang out with her over the weekend to be able to work like three days in a row or two and a half, Saturday, Sunday, and then a little bit of Friday evening.