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The Hardest Decision I’ve Ever Made

Showpo's General Manager, Alex Durkin, says farewell...

I recently made the biggest decision of my life so far. I decided to leave my position as General Manager and 2IC at Showpo to start my own business. This was extremely hard to do. But, if I were 20 years down the track looking back, I know I would regret not having the courage here and now, to follow my dreams.

I’m so incredibly excited for the adventure to come and wanted to share my personal journey towards this decision with you. A huge part of this story is Jane. None of this would be possible without her, and I can’t wait to be her maid of honour at her wedding this year and support her as she embarks on a new phase of her personal life.

I’ve always had entrepreneurial aspirations and started a few businesses (some failed) before I arrived at Showpo. In my early days with the company, I built two other businesses on the side, sold one, and shut the other one down to concentrate on Showpo. But the itch is still there. I need to venture into the unknown and follow my dream of building my own company.

Getting to a place where I was mentally able to resign was challenging. It took over a year of self-reflection and self-development at a rate I sometimes couldn’t handle. I had to confront my childhood fear of failure. Then, I looked at my personal strengths and set goals for when I’m 40. I’ve spent the last year strengthening my resolve so when the time came, I could start my new adventure without feeling that I had lost a large part of my identity.

This process was not just about me but also about getting Showpo to a position where the company was ready for me to move on. It’s been a busy year aligning strategy and ensuring that the key people were in place. I’ve always been transparent with Jane throughout this process and have openly discussed my plans and my vision for Showpo with her.

Showpo has been a huge part of my life. When I met Jane in 2012, she had just moved the business out of her parent’s garage, had a turnover of around $1m per annum, she was packing orders herself (her mum would come and pack too) and it was beautiful chaos. She needed the help, took a chance and offered me a job. I told her I could commit to two years but I ended up staying so much longer. Jane and I balanced each other, her strengths are my weaknesses and vice versa. I loved getting deep into projects, the hustle in the office and comradery. There were essentially four of us in the office team when we hit sales of $1m per month. Our social media marketing was strong and we celebrated some big wins.

In those early years, I was able to try on different roles, as well as outfits. I’ve played dress up as a pop-up shop floor manager, a buyer, an office and warehouse coordinator, a Facebook ad account manager, a warehouse picker and packer, a customer happiness agent, a photo shoot stylist, a professional napper, a TV commercial visionary and general jill of all trades. We were working in the business, as well as on it. The result was a crazy growth trajectory (which we achieved with no external funding so it was all the more sweeter). It was such a thrill, but we also had our fair share of business challenges. We were always knuckling down, getting serious and making some serious magic.  

Four years ago Showpo hired our executive heads which took the company to a  whole new level. Now, we’re in the process of adding in another layer of management to support our growth. I manage, guide and align department strategy of what is an extremely complex global company with a multitude of moving parts. We’re turning over $85m per annum, sell into 100+ countries and have built an amazing team of 150+ people that have enabled us to take out Online Retailer of the Year 2018 – my absolute career highlight.

My departure on 30 June 2019 brings me to exactly 7 years at Showpo. They say that things happen in 7-year cycles and this last one has been one hell of a ride!

So what does 7 years at Showpo look like?

  • 3,500,000 followers on social media
  • 2,000,000 orders
  • 23,817 Instagram posts
  • 892 spreadsheets
  • 758 photoshoots
  • 153 product range launches
  • 22 Showpo parties
  • 13 conferences
  • 8 ORIA awards
  • 7 sample sales
  • 6 countries visited for work
  • 5 offices
  • 4 warehouses
  • 3 new websites
  • 2 Coachella trips

1 experience I’ll never forget.

So what’s next?

I’m taking some time off to explore the world before jumping into my next venture. I’ll continue to mentor and consult to several smaller fast-growing companies, with plans to get my own venture off the ground by the end of the year!

Finally, I would like to say the biggest thank you to Jane for taking me on this Showpo journey. I feel like I have come into my own and I will be forever grateful for the experiences we’ve had together laughing, crying and building this company. Going from a small back office on Pitt Street, drinking out of goon sacks, to leaving an HQ office with 70+ staff and rosé on tap has been incredible.  

And to the team at Showpo, none of this would be possible without you.  Showpo has been pivotal in my personal and career development. I have made life-long friends and really discovered who I am and what I am capable of achieving. I feel so blessed to have been a part of such a great Australian business success story. I’m so unbelievably excited for this next challenge and jumping off into the unknown! Now on to a new adventure…

Follow my adventures here on insta. 

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1 thought on “The Hardest Decision I’ve Ever Made”

  1. Hey Durka,

    I remember having a meeting with you and Jane in those Pitt St offices.
    We went to the combo (lunch-room + kitchen + storeroom) with three chairs.
    All the best with your new adventures.

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