INSPIRING WOMAN: FOUNDER OF FASHION RETAILER SHOWPO, JANE LU
Jane Lu, the founder of online fashion site Showpo, tells us all about how she left her corporate job to go out on her own with a clothing website.
For anyone out there who might not be loving their job and are considering the entrepreneurial career instead, Jane might be the inspiration you need!
Here’s what we talked about.
What made you quit corporate life and start Showpo?
I quit my job as a business analyst because I hated it! I didn’t like the work I was doing and I didn’t like the work environment. Don’t get me wrong, I did like my first corporate job as an accountant (well, I liked it as much as you can like an accounting job anyway), but I guess it was a blessing in disguise that I hated the analyst role. When I quit I was actually working on another business, which failed within a month of quitting my job. With nothing else to turn to (I was too proud to ask for my job back and there was no point applying for another job as it was in the middle of the GFC) I decided to start Showpo.
Can you tell us a bit about your career journey – the ups and the downs?
I started working for KPMG (a big 4 accounting firm) when I was 18 as I got into a cadetship program. I felt really lucky to have been hired into the role and it was quite hard to get into and a great career opportunity. I really loved it there! I was working with a great team and met heaps of great people that I’m still friends with. I was working full time as an external auditor whilst studying at UNSW part time. It wasn’t easy, working long hours and then going to uni at night, but when you’re young, you just suck it up and do it I guess.
After 2 years, I blindly moved into an analyst role. It just seemed like finance was a better career progression and I think I didn’t realise what I was getting myself into. I didn’t like the role, I didn’t like the team (with a few exceptions of course), and I didn’t like the work environment. But like I said, thank god it was horrible, because otherwise it would’ve been a lot harder to leave.
How did you go about starting Showpo? How did you know what to do?
I didn’t! I approached it with trial and error. Plus you can always look at what other businesses are doing. I think the hard part of a fashion business is marketing – especially when you don’t have a big budget. The operations and logistics is common sense. Yes you’ll make mistakes along the way, but as long as you don’t heavily invest into any decisions without testing it out, and you learn from your mistakes, you’ll figure it out and build up the knowledge and experience.
Have you had any key mentors along the way?
Not really. I didn’t really have the guts to ask anyone to be my mentor at the start, and then just got too busy to reach out to a mentor.
What do you love most about running your own business?
Loving the work that I do and loving the people that I work with.
How do you find it being one of a few female entrepreneurs in Australia? Is it challenging… Exciting?
I find the work that I’m doing so much easier and funner than what I was doing in my corporate job, and people give me compliments on the work that I’ve done with Showpo and give me awards – I never got compliments and awards at my old job! Haha!
What keeps you motivated?
My team and I motivate each other – we love sharing this common goal that we’re all so passionate about. I think especially as you get older, you realise how rare it is to love the job you’re in and love what you do every day.
What’s your top career advice for other young female entrepreneurs?
Don’t be too hard on yourself and don’t be afraid of taking risks. If I didn’t hate my corporate job, I probably would’ve never had the guts alone to quit and follow my dreams.