Woman secretly built $47 million company after quitting her job as an accountant

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A savvy businesswoman has revealed how she managed to build a fashion firm now worth a whopping $47 million while keeping it hidden from her parents for two years.

Australian fashion guru Jane Lu started Showpo, formally Showpony, in 2010, selling clothes online, but her parents thought she was working as an accountant at a well-known firm.

Jane’s parents Queenie, 61, and Frank Lu, 67, were migrants from China and worked as cleaners in Sydney after arriving in the country when Jane was eight years old.

But they had high hopes for their daughter who worked at Ernst & Young, a large, reputable accountancy firm in Australia, and Jane didn’t know how to tell them she hated it.

They only found out when she surprised them by paying off their mortgage, even buying them a car, when her company suddenly boomed.

Until then, she would sit next to her mum on the bus each morning pretending to go to her accounting job.

“I would put on my suit every day. I would get the bus into the city with my mom. And I was carrying around the empty laptop bag … I was definitely questioning my life decisions a lot back then. But there was no going back,” Jane told the Australian Financial Review-produced podcast How I Made It.

Realizing that she couldn’t “do this [job] for the rest of my life,” Jane jumped at the opportunity in 2010 when a friend suggested they start a business selling clothes from a pop-up stall.

Jane Lu attends the launch of the new Holden Astra at Three Blue Ducks in Rosebury on December 15, 2016 in Sydney, Australia.
Jane Lu attends the launch of the new Holden Astra at Three Blue Ducks in Rosebury on December 15, 2016 in Sydney, Australia.
WireImage

So she quit her job and maxed out her credit card to buy stock, and stuffed clothes in a garbage bag she hid at home with her parents.

But her partner not long after pulled out, despite its quick success, instead choosing a more secure full-time job.

Jane, although devastated, saw it through but chose to take the business online, rather than try to manage a brick-and-mortar shopfront.

“The online fashion thing was only starting out but it was quickly getting bigger,” she said.

“At the time it just seemed like a really low-risk way of doing things. I didn’t have the confidence to go it alone in person, so this way I could hide behind the website.”

After a slow few months, Jane had a lightbulb moment and decided to launch a Facebook campaign which instantly helped boost her reach.

In the space of one month, Showpo reportedly shot from 3,000 to 20,000 followers, and by 2012 Jane moved out of her parents’ garage and into a warehouse.

Up until this point, she still hadn’t told her parents, but by then, she was making enough money to support them too.

She was able to pay off their mortgage and buy them a car, which made them finally accept her successful career path.

The CEO admitted that her parents “were shocked” and they “just couldn’t believe how I had the balls…”

Today, Showpo has 1.8 million followers on Instagram, 1.3 million on Facebook and 95,700 on its newly launched TikTok page.

Jane, who is now married with a child, is regarded as one of Australia’s most successful self-made businesswomen.

The clothing website reportedly turned over a huge $63,853 million in 2019 alone, and she’s made the AFR’s Young Rich List every year since 2017.

Despite her millions, Jane remains humble and married the man of her dreams in a bargain $222 dress from her Showpo wedding collection.

She still pinches herself every day because of what she’s been able to achieve – although imposter syndrome is still very much alive.

“‘You need to be able to stop pushing the goal posts every time you reach one,” she said. “You’ve got to tell yourself not to overthink it. That’s what I tell myself every day – stop thinking!”

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