Have you ever wanted to try something that your parents didn’t approve of? Date a certain someone, change your degree or career, move to a different country entirely… Well, normally, our parents have our best interests in mind, which is why they advise caution. However, it cannot be denied that sometimes the risk pays off.
Online fashion empire Showpo now stands at the top of the fashion business in Australia. Its founder, Chinese-Australian entrepreneur Jane Lu has worked hard to get it to where it is today. Yet, it may come as a surprise to discover that her parents weren’t aware of the plan when she started out.
Showpo, formally known as Show Pony, began in 2010 as a brainchild between Jane and a friend. Prior to striking out in the fashion industry, Jane was working as an accountant in Sydney. Her career was partially influenced by her parents’ wishes, mainly because they hoped it would give her a better chance at life. Queenie (61) and Frank Lu (67) were Chinese immigrants who worked as cleaners after moving to Australia. However, the 34-year-old wasn’t happy with her career.
When her friend pitched the idea of selling clothes from a pop-up stall, she jumped at the chance. She quit her job at the accounting firm and started looking into buying clothes. But Jane couldn’t bring herself to tell her parents about her new venture.
“I would put on my suit, carry my empty laptop bag and take the bus with my mother to the city, pretending I was going to work,” the Showpo founder shared. “At that time, I often questioned my life, but there was no turning back.” Most of her guilt stemmed from the fact she had given up a perfectly good corporate job to sell clothes online. “(It) was just totally alien to them,” she said.
Jane kept up the charade for six months, during which she worked hard on building up the business. She would max out her credit cards to buy stocks and hid the clothes she wanted to sell in a garbage bag at home. The pop-up store did well initially, however, everything started going downhill when her business partner pulled out. She ended up in a US$60,000 debt. Jane then took the business online where social media helped it flourish and become the online retail giant it is today.
Currently, Showpo has 1.8 million followers on Instagram, 1.3 million on Facebook and 98,400 on TikTok. Jane herself has come far from where she started out. Now, Showpo’s success has made her into a well-known entrepreneur and she’s also started a family with her longtime beau. As for her parents, well, they found out eventually. In fact, she has even gifted them a new car, thanks to the online business.
It’s common to want to repay your parents for everything they’ve sacrificed for you. Jane’s business may have had an unconventional start, and less than ideal circumstances but the payoff was totally worth it!