Cindy Lo’s days start early and end late. Between taking her children to and from field trips and meeting with CEOs of major companies to plan their next events, she squeezes in out-of-state-trips.
After graduating in 1998 with a degree in management information systems and business honors, Lo went into the work force doing consulting and project management work for a software company. Five years later, Lo traded a steady paycheck for a job in events planning. No one would hire Lo without any prior experience in the field, even when she offered to work for free, so she decided to create Red Velvet Events in 2002 to gain experience for future jobs.
In 2003, Lo made the decision to keep the company that specializes in organizing events for high-end clients. Although the success of Lo’s business has yet to plateau, the original decision to switch fields came with financial drawbacks. Her husband, who was her boyfriend at the time, supported Lo for the first three years while she got the business going.
“About one year in, I realized I liked what I was doing,” Lo said. “There’s always fear. It never goes away. You have more responsibilities. You have more on your mind.”
This past year, Lo’s jobs included organizing a secret event for President Obama in Austin and a last minute concert for Lionel Richie in her client’s living room after his cancelled Austin City Limits show.
Lo is a Texas-born, first-generation Asian-American. Growing up, she helped run her father’s business and developed an understanding of the time and energy that went into owning a company.
Lo’s sister, Sarah Lo, was supportive of Cindy Lo and now works as vice president of Red Velvet Events.
“I was actually very excited because I knew this is something she would do very well, and I had faith in her that she would do very well,” Sarah Lo said. “In due time, I had no doubt that she would do it and be one of the best”
Cindy Lo went to UT on a full-ride scholarship and now actively donates her time and money to the University.
“I think growing up with nothing makes you appreciate stuff even more when you grow up and [then] you have everything,” Lo said. “It’s definitely living the American dream.”
Lo has organized several events for the school and has worked with Elota Patton, the professor who taught Lo’s Honors Business Communications class. Patton retired from teaching in 2012 but is currently working to create an endowment for the MIS program through fundraising.
“She was pretty amazing: really focused, lots of energy, a tremendous organizer,” Patton said. “She worked as a consultant, but she’s a natural entrepreneur.”
While gender inequality affects men and women in the business field, Lo said her career was never slowed down because of her gender.
“I personally have never found being a female hindering in any respect; I think what hinders is if you’re negative,” Lo said. “I thought I was on top of the world in the software days, and I was in a very male-heavy environment.”
Still, Lo said there is a shortage of women in the business world and attributes the shortfall to the fact that women are responsible for caregiving.
“I think there are not enough, but it’s hard because women are the ones who have babies,” Lo said. “Until men can bear children, there is no other option.”
Lo, a mother of two, made the decision to hire someone to help care for her children while she continued to grow her business.
“My typical morning is I wake up at 5 a.m., my last appointment today is at 6:30, and then we have a playdate at 7:00,” Lo said. “I think I have a total of, like, eight meetings today. It’s a busy day, but I’m okay with that. For me, balance is being able to provide for my family, and I know what lifestyle I like and I know what I have to do from an income standpoint to make it work.”
She describes herself as a professional multitasker and an ambitious go-getter who relies on her network of clients, family, friends and Microsoft Excel in order to succeed daily. But she concedes that she is still a human.
“As independent as I am and as confident as I can be, there are times where you’re just hesitant,” Lo said. “Women — I’ve personally found — are more critical on themselves. It’s one of those things you’ve kind of got to get over.”
Lo decided early in her life that she wanted to pursue an independent lifestyle, and she hopes that her children and future generations will be able to enjoy the freedom to make the same choices.
“I explain to my daughter that I want her to be independent enough to make [her] own decisions and be able to have that freedom,” Lo said. “You have to decide what you want out of your life.”