A glamorous businesswoman has revealed how she built a fashion empire worth a whopping $47 million while hiding it from her family for two years.

When Showpo founder Jane Lu started selling clothes from her parents’ garage in Balmain in 2010, they thought she was advancing her corporate career at Big Four financial firm Ernst & Young (now EY Australia).

The only child of Chinese migrants Queenie, 61, and Frank Lu, 67, fulfilled their wishes by training as an accountant but was terrified to tell them she had given up her profession during the global financial crisis to “try her hand” at retail. internet.

“Every day I put on my suit.” I was going into the city by bus and carrying my empty laptop bag…I was definitely rethinking my life decisions a lot then. But there was no turning back,” said 35-year-old Jane.

Jane has appeared on Australia’s richest entrepreneurs list every year since her debut in 2017, with this year’s net worth estimated at $47 million.

After launching her brand 11 years ago, the savvy entrepreneur paid off her parents’ mortgage and bought them a car, even though she couldn’t explain to them that she’d left a secure, well-paying job.

“I remember looking at the charts for hours. I had this moment of realization that I had wasted three hours. “I was three hours closer to death and my life didn’t get better,” she said of her decision to quit.

“I thought I can’t do this for the rest of my life, I’ll never be a good accountant.”

Jane said she eventually told her parents she had given up accounting, two years after she had actually done so.

“They were shocked,” she said. “They couldn’t believe it, we don’t have anyone in the family who is an entrepreneur.”

When a friend suggested they start a clothing business in 2010, she emptied her credit card, bought stock and moved the business into her parents’ garage.

But when the start-up failed and her business partner pulled out, Jane feared she had made the wrong decision.

Despite her lack of experience, she had a feeling that the future of fashion lay less in brick and mortar and more online.

“We wasted time with piles of clothes, putting them on and off the racks every day, it was very tedious manual work,” she recalls. “If the business model doesn’t work, no passion does.”

Scared but determined, she took thousands of photos of the clothes still left in the garage and uploaded them to a website that seven years later would be named Australia’s best online store.

But sales were slow, “maybe one or two items a day,” and after six months, Jane began to feel again that she had made a big mistake, until she found inspiration.

“I felt discouraged. One night I was laying on the couch watching America’s Next Top Model and there was a segment where you could vote for your favorite girl. I thought, “this is an easy way to get attention.”

That’s when Jane got the idea to start a “Face of Showpo” contest on Facebook, where young women ask their friends to vote for them by visiting the brand’s official page.

In the span of a month, Showpo jumped from 3,000 to 20,000 followers at a time when few e-commerce businesses have an audience that size.

“It had an amazing effect and made me realize how powerful social media is,” Jane said.

By 2012, Jane had moved from her parents’ garage to a warehouse where she focused on sourcing a wider variety of styles in a larger size offering. Showpo was one of Australia’s first s to xxxl clothing websites.

She believes that a commitment to diversity and inclusion has helped her stand out from others in the market.

“We have always tried to sell sexy clothes in all sizes. We are still proud of it,” she added.