After quitting her 'boring' corporate job, Jane Lu launched Showpo, an e-commerce business selling everyday fashion items. Today the multi-million dollar company, has over 1.3 million eyes watching their every move. We chat to the CEO and founder about building her business from ground up, her journey to success and why she doesn't work weekends!
Guest Interview by: Sarah Lindsay
Hi Jane! We are so excited to be chatting with you today. Today Showpo is a household name and a multi-million dollar business. Can you please describe yourself in three words?
Loyal, fun and hard-working.
Would you mind talking us through the original idea behind the company?
I was working a graduate job in corporate finance, climbing the corporate ladder and not at all enjoying it. I was tired, bored and hating life. So when my friend came to me and asked if I wanted to start a business with her I jumped at the chance.
We were running a pop-up market in Sydney that was completely unviable. Which in turn led me to realise that there were two types of businesses - the type where you work in a business and you’re working to supplement an income that you would otherwise make in a job. And then there’s the type of business where you work for the business and the business works for you. If I hadn’t failed with my first business venture, there is no way that ShowPo would be where it was today.
I was in unemployed, in debt and living with my parents. So for the first six months, I would get up, put on my suit, tell my parents I was going to work. During this time, one of my girlfriends introduced me to a girl that was looking to start an online retail business. So after meeting over a few wines, we came up with the idea for what would become ShowPo. That was in September 2010 and I suppose the rest is history.
Was there a specific moment in which you realised that your corporate career had come to an end?
After undertaking a nine month exchange to a small town in Sweden in my last year of university and returning to my graduate job in corporate finance I was just hating it. So when my friend came to me with the idea for my first business (which as I mentioned, failed) I knew that my days of climbing the ladder were over. So on a very mundane Monday, I was sitting there at my laptop, nursing a hangover, I looked up at my laptop and realised that three hours had just passed and all I had achieved was removing the circular reference from the spreadsheet I was staring at. So I quit. It was the middle of the Global Financial Crisis and everyone thought I was crazy.
How has being a female led company impacted on the success of the brand?
I don’t think that ShowPo’s success is the result of it being led by a female or male. For me, the company is successful because I have a great team (of women and men) who work their asses off!
What has been the biggest challenge of starting your own business?
Managing people and having difficult conversations – I HATE them and really hate any conflict. That being said, we don’t get many but luckily I have Alex (Durkin, ShowPo’s General Manager) who is far better at the tough decisions and conversations.
And the greatest reward?
Working with such a phenomenal group of people and smashing goals on the regular. Unlimited annual leave is also pretty sweet!
Can you share the best piece of business advice you have ever been given?
"It doesn’t matter how many people do what you do, no one can do it like you, so be bold and be brave”. It’s not necessarily business advice but I’ve always found it useful in my own experiences.
We have to admit, we are huge fans of your badass female centred support group Like Minded Bitches Drinking Wine. What was the inspiration behind starting the group?
A girlfriend and I were having a few drinks one night and though that there really should be a group where chicks like us could get together, drink wine and chat about business - so we made it happen!
As such a busy boss lady, what are your non-negotiables for maintaining work/life balance?
I don’t ever work on the weekend. I might check emails here and there in case something urgent has come through, but as a general rule, weekends are for fun and binging reality TV!
Now we have some fire questions for you:
Tea or coffee? Coffee
Go to workout? F45 you don’t have to go often and see great results
Favourite app? Instagram
Favourite podcast? Girlboss radio
Must read book? How Will You Measure Your Life? By Clayton Christensen
Follow Jane at: @lazyceo and @showpo