Makin’ Moves: Red Engine Events Founder, Kay Ellis

Written By Tyree Hicks-Perkins

Ever catch yourself, gazing out of your office window, imagining what it would feel like to take a leap of faith, leave your 9 to 5 and go into business for yourself?  We all do. But everyone isn’t cut out for entrepreneurship, and the only way to find out if you have the chops, is to do it.

That’s exactly what Kay Ellis, the subject of our Women’s History Month spotlight did when she bossed-up and founded Red Engine Events eight years ago.

Since nine or ten years old, when she organized sleepovers so her friends from different groups could all hang in one place — creating memorable moments has been her thing, her passion even.  She believes that Facetime and live streaming will never replace real engagement, a face to face discussion, a hug, or a handshake.

She started as a Production Assistant with various entities including assisting with wardrobe and production for SEAL, the Rolling Stones and Val Kilmer.  She eventually joined a globally established media and marketing network to support clients like Johnson and Johnson on their national event programs. But after spending 20+ years as an Executive Event Producer it was time to strike out on her own, and she did just that.

With guerrilla marketing and experimental experience in her toolbox, she founded a boutique Event Marketing company, Red Engine Events.  When we asked her why she chose Event Marketing she said, “Event marketing is akin to live theatre. Weeks, sometimes months are dedicated to creating a single moment. You’re going to make an impact.  The question is, will it be a grand slam or a ground-out to first”

In it’s 8 years of existence, Red Engine Events has worked with companies such as Twitter, Epocrates and Goldman Sachs — talk about a client list.

Kay longed to expand Red Engine’s client event offerings to meet the growing need for individuals and companies looking for refuge from their unsustainable lifestyles and disproportionate work/life balance. She wanted to incorporate her passion as a certified meditation and yoga instructor.     

So she created Mindful Events. Now, in addition to strategic planning and production for small to large corporate entities, Red Engine Events has branched into offering Mindfulness & Wellness events, experiences, classes, workshops and retreats both domestically and internationally.  Their upcoming events include a retreat to breathtaking Jackson Hole, WY, and if you’re looking for something more exotic, you can spend a summer week with Kay & co. off the Mediterranean coast of Greece in the Mani Peninsula.

Kay says, “A producer's role is to conduct, a good producer does so while making it look tranquil.” It’s no coincidence that making excellence look effortless comes easy to her. Wonder if she really knows how good she is at it.