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A Chat with Cindy Lo of RED VELVET

“Founding my company was kind of a happy accident,” Cindy Lo, founder and CEO of RED VELVET, explained. “I started my event planning agency so I could eventually get back into tech, and then never left.”

On Monday night Cindy Lo spoke virtually at our January Empower Hour to a group of UT students about her journey as a female, Asian American entrepreneur. Students were given the opportunity to ask questions in a casual environment and hear Cindy’s candid, honest advice. She explained that as a female entrepreneur, it is likely that you will experience imposter syndrome more frequently than your male counterparts. “The trick to this,” Cindy stated, “is that you need to tell yourself what you are good at and know that even when you fail, you will find a way to keep going.” It wasn’t until recently, at age 44, that Cindy feels comfortable with criticism, doesn’t put unnecessary pressure on herself, and celebrates every small success.

During the conversation, many students asked Cindy how she finds balance in her life being both a mother and an entrepreneur. Cindy responded - while noting that her husband never gets asked this same question - that she has honest conversations with her partner about what “balance” feels and looks like, and then sets boundaries. She noted that you will be forced to make sacrifices, but the more you talk about balance the easier it will be to maintain.

When Cindy began RED VELVET in 2002, she almost failed many times. “I joke in my book that I am a cat with 11 lives,” she laughed. “But I realized that I am a visionary who goes with my gut, which you need in order to grow and scale a company.” A few aspiring entrepreneurs in the audience asked Cindy how best to start a business without previous experience. She responded that “it is easier now with social media and quick website building tools. Ask yourself how much money and time you are willing to sacrifice. If you can start a business with a small overhead, that is especially helpful.”

As Cindy’s Austin-based event planning agency pivots into a virtual environment, with it comes new learning experiences. RED VELVET has been able to stay in business because they anticipated this change occurring faster than many of their competitors. Cindy learned to rise above the noise and gauge important changes happening with her team, clients, and the larger Austin community. Her story inspired us all and we look forward to reading her book, “Behind the Red Velvet Curtain,” during our first SHEreads cohort.

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