The interior designer tells us why it’s important to always trust your intuition

We didn’t know what to expect when Kelly Lo asked us to meet at her family’s colourful and brightly decorated Yip Performing Arts Centre in Fortress Hill, but once we met Kelly, armed with her megawatt smile and her warm demeanour, we were immediately put at ease.

An entrepreneur in her own right and the founder of her eponymous design company, Kelly is also an avid dancer, choreographer and musician (she denied this at the time, but her piano-playing proved otherwise).

Although Kelly prefers to keep a low profile, she and her husband Kingston Chu, the son of Pollyanna made headlines last year when they tied the knot at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

In our latest edition of the Tatler 10, where we pose 10 questions to Hong Kong-based entrepreneurs about their businesses, we asked Kelly about the perks of running your own business and why you shouldn’t let your ego interfere with your work.

What was your first experience of Hong Kong?

When I was young, I used to visit Hong Kong two to three times a year. At the time, Hong Kong was simply the city that my grandparents lived in. Now, I consider Hong Kong home.  It’s where I discovered a sense of belonging and my fondest memories and relationships were all created here in this amazing city.  

Summarise your business in one sentence.

Kelly Lo Design (KLD) creates unique interiors by bringing our clients on a journey through design to discover, hone and to turn their vision and personal taste into their reality. 

See also: The Tatler 10: Pearl Shek

What is your proudest accomplishment?

Being awarded an honourable mention at the International Design Awards at the age of 23 for the interior design of my own residence. The other winners and award recipients were larger firms with much more experience so to be included in the same league as some of them was quite amazing at the time!

What do you love most about running your own business?

I definitely enjoy the flexibility of time!  With this flexibility, I can make time for my other passion; choreography and teaching tap dancing and theatre to children of all ages at my family’s Yip’s Performing Arts Centre. Working with children and watching them learn and mature gives me a different but equally satisfying sense of fulfilment as finishing an interior design project.   

What advice can you offer budding entrepreneurs?

Hold true to your own values, beliefs and your vision but keep a level-head at the same time.  Don’t let your own ego interfere with your work and/or other opportunities. Others will eventually see your worth. I’ve also found that self-reflection and analysing the pros and cons of previous work and relationships always makes for a smoother journey ahead.   

As an entrepreneur, what do you think sets you and your business apart from the competition?

My interiors are always true to my personal aesthetics or influences and my clients really believe in my vision. I feel as if many of the interiors you find, especially in Hong Kong currently, feel like cookie-cutter type spaces that are devoid of personality especially for residences—you can’t tell who designed it or recognise their work. I feel that as a designer, it’s very important to have your own signature style. 

Who inspires you and why?

I’m inspired by those who travel around the world in order to learn about and understand new cultures and visit new places. Inspiration can also come in so many forms but to me, exposure to different cultures from travelling provides the ultimate inspiration. I also have to give credit to my husband (Kingston Chu), who I can also call my best friend, I find him pretty inspiring too.

See also: The Tatler 10: Stephnie Shek

Looking back do you wish you had done anything differently?

Looking back, I would have taken greater risks and gone followed my intuition.  As it turns out, my intuition has led to some of my best work and personal decisions.

What's your end goal?

I actually haven’t set one final goal yet because I believe it’s better to focus on the ride than the destination!  I’m happy to let life take me to wherever I need to be.

What are your words to live by?

Live life to its fullest because it only happens once!

See other Tatler 10 interviews with Christy Liang, Cynthia Mak and Kayla Wong.