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Written by Vira Anekboonyapirom
“At every setback and every obstacle you face, you need to ignore those voices in your head telling you to give up and pursue a safer path.” While it may seem obvious now, 12 years ago, social media wasn’t the apparent pathway to growing a successful brand.
Jane Lu, mother, wife, entrepreneur and the Founder & CEO of Showpo wears many hats. It’s a wonder how she runs a multimillion-dollar fashion empire and finds time to keep it all together while striving to ensure her brand’s doing the most with sustainability and social responsibility in mind.
Stepping inside Showpo’s latest headquarters, you’ll find open-plan seating, a milk bar kitchen, Rosé and Seltzer on tap and a showroom that’s an extended wardrobe you’re probably well acquainted with if you follow Jane’s OOTD on socials.
Jane Lu on building a global fashion empire
When I started Showpo, I didn’t have any money – in fact, I was in debt from my failed first business (amongst other things). This definitely made me feel helpless at times, but it also made me get creative. I started the business back in 2010, when traditional big retailers weren’t yet embracing social media; when I realised I couldn’t afford conventional marketing channels, I instead relied on Facebook to get the brand out there. It seems obvious now but was still quite unusual and unproven back then, but it soon became our competitive advantage.
The biggest hurdle for me in those early days was probably actually overcoming all the doubts in my mind. At every setback and every obstacle you face, you need to ignore those voices in your head telling you to give up and pursue a safer path. Business is about constantly taking risks, and doing what’s uncomfortable and novel. It’s those more uncomfortable decisions that will have the big rewards.
Jane Lu on Showpo’s sustainability practices & social responsibility
After 12 years of Showpo, with many more to come, we want to look back and see the positive impact we’ve had and continue to have on our community. This is driven by our sustainability and social responsibility strategy, especially these key actions:
- Evolving our product range to incorporate more sustainable fibres. For example, this year we launched Amalie the Label, an in-house range focused on natural plant-based fibres with a lower impact on the environment
- Moving our packaging options to recycled or compostable alternatives
- Working with our suppliers to produce the working conditions of factory workers
- Giving back through philanthropic initiatives, such as our recent collaboration with The Hunger Project. We designed unisex sweats range with 100% of profits going to their work fighting hunger and poverty
- Championing inclusive fashion through content and imagery that speaks to our diverse range of consumers.
Your proudest entrepreneurial moment?
When we won Australian Online Retailer of the Year at the National Online Retailer Awards in 2018. I couldn’t believe that something I had started was able to compete with such big household retail names, let alone beat them!
It was such a pinch-me moment when they announced us – and we looked to the screen to see Showpo, a name I had just made up less than 10 years ago, be recognised for this award, in Australia, a country I immigrated to 28 years ago. Such an amazing feeling!
Best piece of advice you’ve received and from who?
My mum always told me wear whatever will make you feel your most confident. It was always “Don’t slouch, shoulders back, big smile, and walk with confidence,” and wear whatever it is that makes you do that. It’s like that saying – you should wear your clothes, not let the clothes wear you.
And this has remained an important part of our approach to fashion at Showpo – to not take fashion or trends too seriously, but finding something that will help you be your best self.
Baby #2 is on the way! What’s been the biggest lesson you’ve learnt so far from juggling motherhood while still operating as CEO?
It’s definitely a constant juggle between who can scream the loudest – and sometimes that’s Lachie and sometimes that’s a work problem. I think it’s important to ask for help! I don’t want to be a hero, and try and do it all. It’s just about balancing and outsourcing what I need, so I can do those motherhood things that are important to me and my family.
You can probably guess from our office bar setup – we have rose and hard seltzer on tap, and we’re always stocked with prosecco and pinot!
My phone and a flare and a boat – I’ll have to try and get off the island, or die trying. I need companionship, I won’t last on the island so there’s no point even trying!
A sky-high pair of heels!
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