She was a 29-year-old trying to run her business. However, she was also the daughter of the late Macau gambling king Stanley Ho.
So, when Laurinda Ho went to her landlord to negotiate the rent for her store just when the Covid-19 pandemic struck, she was surprised at their reaction.
In a recent interview on the Chinese show A Bigger Role, the now 31-year-old entrepreneur shared that starting her own business while being part of the Ho family was more stressful as she had to contend with how the public and her elders viewed her.
One incident, in particular, made her learnt that being born into wealth was an “original sin”, as her mum called it.
Laurinda had opened a shop and it was doing well. Hence, shopping malls offered her a space to expand her business. Since she had the original branch on Hong Kong island, she decided to open a second store in Kowloon so customers wouldn’t have to travel too far.
“The market was good then so the shop rental was expensive,” she said.
Then the pandemic struck and she wanted to negotiate the rent with the landlord to get it lowered or obtain some form of assistance. Laurinda added that she wanted to meet them personally to show her sincerity.
She recalled: “I still remember, it was the second day after my dad died when I had the meeting.”
The first thing the landlord did was offer his condolences, which she acknowledged, and then she asked if he could lower the rent.
“In the end, he said, ‘You wouldn’t be bluffing me that you can’t afford it right?'”, she shared, adding that the landlord had actually intended to increase the rent.
“He said, ‘You’re Miss Ho. Don’t you have money to pay? We’re also small business owners. The rent for our sector will rise. You better be prepared.'”
Laurinda was shocked and couldn’t understand why the landlord held her family background against her and found it unacceptable that they planned to increase the rent when Hong Kong was in such straits.
She said: “Can you imagine that all of Hong Kong knew that was the second day after my dad died and you talk to me like that? I felt like he was a bully.”
After that incident, Laurinda doesn’t attend negotiations in person and would say she is poor.
“I am poor,” she insisted. “My business in Hong Kong is losing money. I’m really poor.”
Laurinda has resigned herself to the good, and especially the bad, of bearing the Ho family name.
She confessed: “People think it’s great that I have the Ho identity, but it’s not… Whenever I talk to people about renovations or anything else, my price is always higher than everyone else’s.
“My mum said, ‘That’s because your family is rich. This is your original sin.'”