Strong Voices Interview #9: CINDY CU - CEO and Founder of C.U. Agency
Cindy worked for several years in the world of content creation, media and communication. Feeling somehow stuck in these jobs, however, the idea of her own creative agency was born and she founded her business C.U. Agency in 2018 with the objective to help brands build a campaign strategy and to support creators in setting up their image.
So, nowadays, she works as the creative link between brands and content creators and has built up a successful career in an industry that is equally fast-moving as it is intriguing. Curious as we are, we invited Cindy to a conversation to learn from her inspiring trajectory and ask her: “How did you do that?”
"Stay true to yourself and don’t try to copy someone else - find your own, personal USP." - Cindy Cu
OUR QUESTIONS FOR CINDY:
With C.U. Agency, you built your own business in the creative industry, which is something many dream of but hesitate to take the plunge. How did you get the idea to start C.U. Agency, and what made you go through with the idea?
Over 3.5 years ago, I was at a point where I felt kinda “stuck”. I wasn’t able to grow. So, I wasn’t 100% happy with my job. Of course, there was also the opportunity to work for another brand or agency as I got some job offers, but in the end, it just didn’t feel right to do so. Most of these agencies pursue a goal, that is based on quantity instead of quality and this is something that I didn’t see myself in. So, I saw my chance to take the next step and to make it better than everyone else. I always dreamed of having my own business and doing my own thing. I just hadn’t planned on realizing this dream that quickly and I have to thank my best friend Jana for pushing me to do that. She always believed in what I was doing and encouraged me to run my own agency. And so C.U. Agency was founded. It’s not only my last name but is also based on the message "SEE YOU". It is a shout-out to both creators and brands as it’s important to me to let them know that I won't lose sight of their needs, goals and especially them.
Having your own Creative Agency, you work with big brands and names from various areas (fashion, beauty, lifestyle, travel, etc.). What are the challenges of working very closely with various interest groups from diverse industries? How do you tackle these challenges?
Actually, it’s super fun working with different kinds of brands. In that way it’s never boring and I get to learn more about various industries – for example cars or electronic devices. I never thought I’d be willing to learn more about it by choice. But you have to get to know the “product” in order to be able to help the client. I mean: It doesn’t hurt to extend your knowledge. The only bad thing is that I got induced quite a few times now to buy something... :-)
How was your experience building up a network and making a name for yourself in the industry?
I’d say that there are always positive and negative experiences. You can either meet the nicest people on earth or you run into bada** people. But to be honest: I’m happy to even meet those. It’s super annoying, but they always motivate me to do my work better than they do. One cannot rule out the possibility that you will also meet people who only want to occupy center stage or only want to connect with you in order to profit from something. I personally don’t like fake people, but everyone is supposed to decide for oneself how they want to be seen in public. Nevertheless, I’m super thankful for all of the people I got to meet and work with. Also, thanks to my previous job experience, I got to build my own network. I’m still in touch with some of my contacts every once in a while, but it’s not that easy to keep in touch with everyone.
What would be your advice to especially young women trying to set foot into the world of Content Creation?
Stay true to yourself and don’t try to copy someone else. I know there are a lot of content creators in the industry and still counting – so the pressure is on. But let’s be honest: Many of them look that similar that you can’t even distinguish them from each other. That’s why you need to find your personal USP. Try to convince them of you, your imagery, story and be personal. Just let the community get to know you. I’m not telling you to share your whole life with them, but only who’s behind the profile. If you got this “base” the rest will come along. Be patient and it really doesn’t matter how many followers you have. It’s all about the quality and your community’s interaction. Even though the number of followers is a requirement for a lot of brands, but in the end – what counts is: brand fit.
Were there any turning points in your career that particularly strengthened you or, perhaps, set you back?
I must admit that I had quite a few setbacks and thoughts about stopping to do this. It’s a view that many may not share, but I want you to be prepared if you plan to found a company. There is talk of: tax office and its prepayments. As a self-employed person you have to pay in advance if there aren’t any bill payments yet. Especially in the beginning where you have quite a few expenses – such as: tax adviser, logo design, homepage, equipment, rent etc. These are expenses that need to get paid immediately – even with your savings if the date of payments weren’t adhered. And if the tax office is around the corner as well, it quite gives you a punch in the face. You start to question whether it was the right decision to give up your job? Sometimes, I also have those “what if” questions in my head, like: What if I’m going to fail? What if I won’t get any clients? What if people are dissatisfied? Those questions then turn into self-doubts. But all of this is totally normal. Don’t freak out and if you do so, that’s totally fine. Just talk to somebody about it, focus and trust your gut. I am lucky that people around me always cheer me up and positive feedbacks encourage me to continue. I mean: as long as I believe in myself, everything will turn out well. Right?
How do you find the right balance between professional and private life?
It’s pretty hard to do so. Especially, when it’s your “baby”. I always try to be reachable – even after work or on weekends. But then my boyfriend reminds me that it’s time to have some time off and he’s right. It’s super important to give yourself some space. No one is going to die – okay, that sounds quite harsh haha - if I don’t respond to an email after work. Tomorrow would also be fine. Of course, there are exceptions, but in the end it’s you who needs to be fully charged. If you’re not, you can’t give 100% during your working hours and work on anything anyways. So please make sure you always have your "me-time". It’s super important. I have to admit that I’m friends with the talents I manage. Sometimes, we just automatically switch from private to work and the other way around. I think that’s totally okay as long as you realize when it’s about time to stop. But I’m still working on finding the perfect balance.