CEO Series: Jane Lu
Coffee, Clothes and Cash Flow
Nothing beats the feeling of looking back and remembering how far you’ve come, successes you have achieved and obstacles you’d never imagined of overcoming.
From humble beginnings, Jane Lu, started her business inside of her parent’s garage with an improvised office -laptop and two shelves of clothing. Previously working at a desolate desk, she was essentially fulfilling the “immigrant dreams” her family aspired her to have. They migrated to Australia during the Global Financial Crisis and Jane worked hard to obtain the desired job security with her background in accounting and corporate finance.
It all began after returning from a year abroad where Jane was inspired to diverge from the “cubicle life” and quit her job to start a journey that would change her life.
Starting it up
The first business she developed was Fatboye Group, which she often looks back on - reminiscing the start of her journey. Unfortunately, this particular business didn’t go exactly as planned, nonetheless Jane was not fearful of failure.
In 2010, Jane had met a like-minded friend who also intended to start a business. It was over a few glasses of wine, and good conversation that led to the creation of Show-Pony, which later rebranded to Showpo. The first store opened in Broadway.
Of course, it was difficult to run the business with the 60k debt that was incurred. Previous debt from her prior business, HECS bill from her studies and breaking her KPMG cadetship, things weren’t looking bright. Jane refused to take an investment, or any sort of loan in general.
However, she remained persistent to keep the dream alive. The website was built overnight on Big Cartel, her business partners office and her boyfriend’s apartment was utilised for warehousing. Marketing was executed through social media platforms such as Facebook and she was able to build the brand image immediately at a relatively low price.
The brand has since continued to flourish and, in 2012, they finally moved into their first office in the heart of Sydney CBD and is now one of Australia’s fastest growing online retailers.
Showpo is an online fashion retailer that sells clothing, accessories and shoes with the primary target being women. The brand has 1.6M followers on Instagram and over 1.2M likes on Facebook. Besides social media playing a critical component in increasing exposure early on, their success may also be attributed to their coherent marketing strategy – a lesson she learnt through her failed pop-ups.
In the midst of all the chaos in her lively office, Jane has mentioned her new project of opening a Showpo Café for individuals to share their personal journeys on social media and the advice she’d give to entrepreneurs would be to simple “go for it”.
Where is she now?
The simple truth is, success is the result of perseverance, learning from failure, hard work and passion. The challenges and success Jane faced along the way ultimately shaped the business and her as a business woman. One of the most important lessons learnt throughout her journey would be to simply get your foot through the door and the rest should attend to itself. “For me, had I not failed at doing this I would have ended up working for a brand like Showpo,” Jane says. Inevitably, failure is part of the process. An important lesson is learnt through every experience and every experience allows for character development. At the end of the day, it was about believing in yourself, bouncing back and not looking back.
Apart from managing the company, Jane has significant involvement in the Australian start-up scene. Undeniably, Jane is a passionate advocate of entrepreneurship and women in business. Co-founding the group “Like Minded Bitches Drinking Wine”, a business group encouraging girl bosses globally.Additionally, Jane runs podcasts and is also a keynote speaker.
Going by the name of “The lazy CEO”, her honest social media handle is merely a reflection of herself. It comes from her idea that after discovering your passion and doing what you love, you won’t be able to distinguish work from play as work won’t feel like work at all.
“For me, had I not failed at doing this I would have ended up working for a brand like Showpo.”