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Modern Hustle: An Interview with Rachel Lim, Co-Founder & CEO, Love, Bonito

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Here at Allies of Skin, we believe in inspiring self-confidence through happy skin. It’s little wonder then, that we found an Ally in Rachel Lim, Co-Founder and CEO of Love, Bonito - homegrown online fashion retailer, whose designs are all tagged with the motto, “Empowering Confidence Through Style”.

From its humble beginnings as a blogshop retailing clothes bought in bulk from Thailand and South Korea, Love Bonito has evolved into a thriving online fashion label with in-house designs that reflect their unique yet keen understanding of the style and fit concerns of women around the world.

Soon set to open brick-and-mortar boutiques in Malaysia and Indonesia, Love Bonito now operates from headquarters that span 5,500 sq ft, with its designs being sent worldwide, to thousands of young women every week.

Looking back on how Love, Bonito was once nothing more than a pipe dream for three teenage girls selling pre-owned items of clothing from their bedrooms, Love, Bonito’s success story is the stuff of dreams for aspiring go-getters.

Hoping to draw some inspiration from one of the key drivers behind Love, Bonito’s success, we speak with Rachel about her journey to happy skin, life and love - Love, Bonito that is.

 

“Here at Love, Bonito we believe that when we look good, we feel good. That will in turn give us the confidence to conquer our day.” 

AOS: Tagging all of Love, Bonito’s designs with the motto “Empowering Confidence Through Style” is such an inspired move. How does this inform your business ethics and design aesthetics at Love, Bonito?

RL: Here at Love, Bonito we believe that when we look good, we feel good. That will in turn give us the confidence to conquer our day. So with that, we spend a lot of our resources, time, effort and money to perfect the fit and cut of each design that we put out.

We are very proud to say that we've perfected the fit for the Asian woman. When she puts on a piece of Love, Bonito clothing, she will feel the difference.

 

AOS: Sadly, the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997 affected many families, including your own.  Would you say the idea for Love, Bonito initially grew out of necessity (a way to supplement the family income) that gradually developed into a passion, or would you say it was more of a catalyst that spurred you to act on your dreams of becoming an entrepreneur?

RL: Love, Bonito started as a hobby. As a young college student, my co-founders and I simply wanted to earn some extra pocket money, and selling preloved clothes was a neat and fun idea. As demand grew, we saw the impact Love, Bonito had on women’s lives, hence we definitely had to put in more thought into growing the business and our motto today is “Empowering Confidence Through Style”.

 

AOS: What do you think sets Love, Bonito apart from other online retailers? What do you think first attracts women to your brand and keeps them coming back?

RL: What sets us apart from the competition is that we truly care for our customers. Being a woman myself who loves to dress up, I know the needs of real women and the importance of dressing up in our daily lives. The quality of our designs (fit, cut, material) is of utmost importance.

I've always believed our competitors can copy our designs, look and feel of our website, and even marketing campaigns, but they can never replicate the connection and engagement we have with our customers. This is what has kept us at the forefront of our industry.

 

AOS: Can you tell us the biggest lesson you’ve learnt from running Love, Bonito?

RL: I learnt a lot about myself - as a business woman and a leader. My strengths, my weaknesses and the importance of surrounding yourself with people who can complement you.

 

AOS: With Love, Bonito’s 100,000+ strong following on Instagram, would you say social media has been a positive force for you in terms of growing your business? Do you think social media platforms like Instagram are a good way for you to engage with your customers; keep in touch with consumer trends/needs/wants?

RL: Yes, social media has been one of the core channels where we share and promote the brand. It shows brand personality and helps to engage and connect customers through visual elements, which is a powerful way to capture and sustain their attention. Social media is also a great community building tool.

 

AOS: Congratulations on making Forbes’ “30 under 30 Asia” list! What does it mean for you, moving forward? As a woman, as an entrepreneur?

RL: I’m definitely very happy to be recognised! But at the same time, I know that we're still a relatively young brand with so much more room to learn and grow.

 

"My advice would be that whichever path you choose to take, always keep an open mind and be willing to learn from anyone, everyone, any situation and every situation." 

AOS: What advice would you give to someone who’s at a crossroads - making a choice between sticking to the tried and tested path or taking a chance and following their dreams?

RL: My advice would be that whichever path you choose to take, always keep an open mind and be willing to learn from anyone, everyone, any situation and every situation.

 

AOS: Do you think the future of retail is online? Or is there still a case to be made for traditional, brick and mortar stores? For example, Love, Bonito has plans to open brick and mortar boutiques in Malaysia and Indonesia, but in Singapore, most of its retail is focused online.

RL: The future of retail is omnichannel. We focus on using a physical store to provide a memorable experience to our customers, and then drive them back online.

 

AOS: We’re all about helping our readers get happy skin. Can you walk us through your day and night beauty regimen?

RL: I generally stick to the cleanse, tone and moisturize technique, it never fails!

In the morning, I use Skin Inc My Daily Dose and Allies of Skin 1A™ All-Day Mask to prep my skin for the day ahead. Another important element would be to wear sunscreen in the day and drink lots of water. I use Sunscreen from Clarins

At night, I use Lancôme Génifique, Laniege Water Bank Gel and Clé de Peau Eye Cream to keep my skin hydrated at night. This allows me to wake up to fresh and beautiful skin in the morning!

 

AOS: Just like you can empower confidence through style, do you think the same also applies to having happy skin? What does having happy skin mean to you? Did you ever struggle with your skin?

RL: Happy skin is hydrated skin. and just like confidence, it shines from within. Yes, I do struggle as I have temperamental skin and travel so much. My skin is required to make lots of adjustments to the climate.

 

AOS: When times get tough, who or what do you turn to? How important is your faith?

RL: When times get tough, I always turn to my brothers and mum. They are my pillars of support. My faith helps to keep me grounded. It reminds me of my bigger purpose and calling.

 

AOS: Can you walk us through Love, Bonito’s latest collection and the inspiration behind it? Do you have a favourite piece from the collection?

RL: Our upcoming Lunar New Year collection channels feminine chic and incorporates modern elements to traditional styles. I have more than just one favourite!

 

All visuals are courtesy of Love, Bonito.