The Business of Meetings –Episode 145 – Think and Act as a Business Owner with Cindy Lo
Today, we have the pleasure of speaking with Cindy Lo, another rockstar in our industry! Cindy is the Founder and current CEO of RED VELVET in Austin, TX.
Cindy is an incredible entrepreneur! She used to have a DMC and has planned meetings all over the world. She joins us to dive into her experience over the last twenty years, talk about coping with change during Covid, and discuss how she manages her time and team.
We hope you enjoy listening to today’s inspiring conversation with Cindy Lo!
When Cindy Lo started RED VELVET 20 years ago, she did so with the mission to Outplan, Outplay, and Outparty! RED VELVET is an international award-winning events agency that creates compelling human connections through design and collaboration for brands on the cusp of disruption. Cindy is the past Visit Austin Chair and a recent author of Behind the RED VELVET Curtain. Connect with RED VELVET on all the major social media channels (@REDVELVETEVENTS) to see behind the scenes what event life is like at RED VELVET. Cindy calls Austin, Texas home with her husband of 18 years, their 2 children, and Darwin their Frenchie
Cindy was working in New York City when 9/11 happened. Even though she enjoyed her corporate tech job, that event made her question her motivation for what she was doing professionally. At that time, she thought the only way to make money was to work at a venue, either on the hotel side or as a venue manager, neither of which appealed to her. So she applied for three different jobs and got rejected for all of them because she lacked formal experience. She found the rejection hard to handle, so she decided to start RED VELVET, and then reapply for the jobs a year later. Needless to say, she never reapplied!
Looking back, Cindy wishes she had known how to scale RED VELVET faster because it took ten years to reach its growth stride. Several years ago, she wrote Behind the RED VELVET Curtain, a book to help people understand what to be realistic about while starting a business.
Cindy loves the event industry because it’s all about solving problems and doing extraordinary things in a very creative environment.
Internships are a way for people to see that although events are fun, they also involve a lot of hard work.
Until 2020, Cindy’s business was entirely word-of-mouth. It was only in 2020 that they started doing paid ads.
Cindy’s first virtual event took place in April 2020. She and her team learned a lot from that event!
Cindy managed to keep all her staff on board until the end of December 2020, when she had to lay some people off. All of those not laid off quit because they were exhausted from working through the pandemic, and they did not like doing virtual events.
Raising her rates
When business returned, it happened fast! That made things hard for Cindy because she did not have enough people and did not want to sacrifice the quality of her work. She then raised her rates to ensure she only worked with qualified clients who valued her work.
Getting back into production
Cindy had not been involved in the production side of events for about five years until 2020. In 2021 and 2022, however, she became the lead producer because her team burned out and she wanted to retain her business. She is now working on finessing various aspects of production because she intends to step back into her previous sales role in 2023.
Cindy feels that time tracking is essential if business owners want to know how much effort they are putting into each program and how much time their teams spend on sales leads, event executions, and recruiting people for events.
Cindy prefers meeting people in person because people are usually more relaxed when you have a conversation with them over a cup of coffee or a meal.
Finding the right balance between all aspects of your work and home life requires integration. If you have a life partner, he/she must match you, and support you. You also need to employ enough people and follow a strict schedule.
To avoid burnout, you have to know what works for you. When Cindy feels she is approaching her burnout point, she mixes some leisure with her work. So, rather than becoming completely unreachable, she sets a range of times during which she will respond to her emails.
Changing her business model
Cindy began changing her business model in 2017 because she wanted to move away from DMCs (Destination Management Companies) and strategize more. When the pandemic began, she took the opportunity to expedite the process.
Connect with Eric
Connect with Cindy Lo
Cindy’s book, Behind the RED VELVET Curtain, is available on Amazon