EP 023 – From Emerging Markets Trader on Wall Street to Emerging Handbag Designer with Joanna Lau

“Sometimes we need to take a step back. . . and think is this for me, is this what I’ll be best at, is this what I really love? It may not be the perfect fit, it may not be something that you’re best at, it may not be something that you love, but because the environment [and the] people around you are all striving for the same thing you [think] that’s the route you should go for.”

Joanna Lau

Founder, JEMMA



Current location:     New York, New York

Education:     Finance & Statistics B.S., New York University

Corporate:      Emerging Markets Trader

Creative:     Fashion Designer


While working as an Emerging Markets Trader on Wall Street, Joanna noticed there was a big hole in the market. . . and no it has nothing to do with FX trading or finance – but with fashion.

Just like owning a stylish, yet functional workbag is an afterthought for most women, pursuing fashion as a career for Joanna was also an afterthought. So when she found there were no handbags in the market for working women that was both fashionable and functional, she decided to quit her job and go out and make them.

In this episode, she talks about

* Why she chose the finance route in the first place
* How she made the transition from finance to fashion
* Details of bootstrapping a fashion line with no industry connection, from concept to design to sourcing and manufacturing overseas
* Quitting her job and going all in before she even had a prototype
* Selling out her bags the first few months without marketing
* How being featured on Yahoo news affected her business
* Success, failures, mentorship, and so much more.


Favorite quote on success

“Success is never in ever failing, but rising every time you fall”


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