We had the good fortune of connecting with Lilian Hsyu and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lilian, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
I didn’t put much thought into work life balance until I had my kid (it just wasn’t an issue for me until then). No matter what anyone tells you, you’re just not prepared for the 180 your life takes when you have kids. And the transition as an entrepreneur was tough for me because you dictate your own schedule (which usually is a great thing for me…but in this case, I didn’t know how to best utilize the little time I had)! A month and a half after my son was born, I flew to Italy to work on a destination wedding. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but boy was it challenging. Leaving a newborn at home, pumping every 3 hours in a foreign country – it was insane! I never felt so frazzled in my life, and it felt like I was being pulled in a million directions. I knew I had to figure out this work life balance equation before I lost it. Over time, I came to realize that I couldn’t excel at my job OR at being a mom if I tried to do it all at once. I needed to dedicate and block out time to focus on each. Eventually, I figured out a good childcare routine and had help on MWF from family so that I could tackle emails, meet with clients + vendors, and stay on top of work. On T/TH, I focused on being at home with my kid and doing what needed to be done at home, and I stayed away from my inbox (for the most part)! I think that the hardest part about the balance is finding time for yourself in it, and while self-care is still one of those things that I talk about more than I actually practice, I am working on it because I recognize the importance in being the best version of me so that I can excel at work and in life. Being able to find joy and peace in small things certainly helps (lighting a candle with a relaxing scent, finding time to bake after the kid has gone to bed, putting on a face mask before bedtime).
What should our readers know about your business?
JM Events is a female-owned, female-powered event + wedding planning business that I started in 2012 as a hobby. It was a “side-hustle” until I quit my full-time job in 2014 and gave it all my attention. The learning curve was steep for me, but I treated the first few years as an investment of my time + energy to learn the trade and figure out where my niche was (and whether or not it was the smart/right thing to do, I didn’t focus too much on the numbers). I was lucky to have the support of my spouse and the growing momentum of business from client referrals – that was and still is the best source of marketing for JM Events. I’ve learned from the start that building strong relationships with our clients is so important – not only does it allow us to provide the best service and experience to them, it generates new opportunities for us long after we’ve parted ways with the clients. I love that our business allows me and quite a few members of my team to balance life as a mom to young children and life as a creative – we have flexibility in our schedules that many don’t in their jobs that allow us to be with our kids, and we have a creative outlet to look forward to in our work. Some of our team members who aren’t moms and who do have full-time jobs still enjoy spending their weekends working at events with us because it helps balance out their weekday office routine. Quite often, I’ll hear my coordinators say that working at an event is a “day off” for them. It’s tiring work, but it’s fun work and it’s never quite the same! Every event is unique, and it’s always a great time. I’m especially proud of how JM Events has evolved over time beyond weddings, which has been our focus. After I became a mom and 3 of our team members become moms, we’ve really found joy in working on kids’ events + celebrations. Birthdays, baby showers, etc. – we love them all. And while weddings mainly take place on weekends, we’ve filled some of our weekdays planning community events + experiences for a group of residential properties in LA. Outdoor pizza + movie nights, pies + latte pop-ups, boba stations, cookie-decorating classes – we create fun experiences to build the community spirit in these urban apartment buildings.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I live in the SGV, and it is a treasure trove full of multicultural culinary adventures! (Assuming we’re not under stay-at-home orders anymore), I would take them out for weeklong food adventures – we’d grab boba, dine on Chinese soup dumplings, Korean BBQ, made-to-order Italian deli sandwiches, freshly sliced sashimi, artisanal ice cream, freshly baked pie – the list is endless! We could spend lazy afternoons at the beach – we really enjoy going to Laguna Beach as a family, and even as far down as San Diego (Torrey Pines Beach is our fav there)! On a clear morning, we’d take a hike up to Griffith Observatory and take a peek at the Hollywood sign. Can’t say we have the freshest air, but it’ll do, and the view ain’t half bad! We’d visit Descanso Gardens, the LA Arboretum, or the Huntington Library (or all 3) to take in the beautiful sights of local floral + fauna. And if they had kids, we’d definitely make a trip to the happiest place on earth – Disneyland.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Celina Wong of Violette’s Flowers – someone in the industry I met while my business was just starting off, who’s become a great friend and ally as our businesses and experiences working together grew. My husband Danny, who has supported my endeavors from when they were just a seedling of an idea (and labored alongside me, especially in the beginning)!
Team Photo: Caitlin Alohilani Photography Event Photos: Gene Kang Photography