In 2010, Lu was living in Australia and selling clothes out of her garage on her online store, formally known as Showpony.
In the process, her parents, Queenie, 61, and Frank Lu, 67, were left in the dark about her booming business. As migrants from China who had worked as cleaners in Sydney, they expected a more practical job out of their only daughter.
Which is why, throughout the course of two years, Lu pretended that she was working at a reputable accounting firm called Ernst & Young. It came to the point that every morning, she would sit beside her mother and pretend to be on the way to work.
“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,” Lu told Australian Financial Review-produced podcast How I Made It.
She went on to describe her unfulfilling life at her corporate job. “I remember I was staring at this spreadsheet for hours,” she said. “I had this moment of realization that I’d wasted three hours. I was three hours closer to death and my life had not improved.”
“I thought, ‘I can’t do this for the rest of my life, I’m never going to be a good accountant.'”
So she and a friend jumped at a chance to open up a pop-up stall and sell clothes in 2010. At the time, she quit her job, maxed out her credit card to buy stock, and placed clothes in a garbage bag and hid it in her parents house. Her partner soon withdrew from the business, leading Lu to seek a platform online.
“The online fashion thing was only starting out but it was quickly getting bigger,” the 35-year-old shared. She launched a game-changing Facebook campaign that grew her follower base from 3,000 to 20,000.
Since then, Showpo has continued to flourish as e-commerce found its footing in the digital world.
Lu, as its founder and CEO, has enjoyed the success of her business. Two years after she quit her accounting job, she was finally able to reveal the enterprise to her parents when she paid off their mortgage and bought them a car.
“They were shocked,” Lu stated. “They just couldn’t believe how I had the balls…They’re like, ‘We don’t have anyone really entrepreneurial in our family. How did you know to take that risk?'”
Since her debut in 2017, the mother-of-one has been featured on the Australian Financial Review Rich List every year; this year’s list revealed her personal fortune to be at an estimated $47 million.
On how to maintain a brand through online channels, Lu gave some advice. “Keep evolving, always, and try to stay true to what people loved you for in the beginning,” she said.
Art Daniella Sison