YES, yes, mes chéres, we are aware: It has been a while since we last raided a WoW Closet. But apologise we will not. Because we did better than that. To make it up to you and make this wait worth your while, we found our way into the lovely East Coast home and walk-in wardrobe of one of the most recognisable It-girl entrepreneurs of the local fashion e-commerce business. ✌
Unless you (a) do not shop online 🙄 ; (b) read neither The Straits Times nor Her World Plus, L’Officiel, The New York Times (fast forward to 01:42 of the video) or Forbes, we assume you already know Rachel Lim to be the co-founder of Love, Bonito. (By the way, she recently made the Forbes “30 Under 30 Asia” list for 2016 in the Retail & E-Commerce category.) Also, the 29-year-old is undoubtedly a very popular source of style inspiration for many, whether you’re 18 or 38 (admit it!)
Precisely, there are 84,700 of you out there — oh yeah, we see 👁👁 you on @Ms_Rach’s Instagram account.
When we met for the first time — at Paul (I had coffee and she had tea after a spot of shopping at Kinokuniya) — it quickly became clear to me that there’s more to this girl than her style and her signature Salon Vim-ed long bob. In our interview, which took place a few months afterwards, she describes herself as a “people person”. And throughout our chat, she reiterates her passion and mission to help, inspire and influence people around her (“Success, to me, is being in the position to touch lives.”) Even the tagline for her business bears the message: “Empowering confidence through style”. Can you say #GIRLBOSS? 👸🏻
Rachel was 19 when she started Love, Bonito as a blogshop with her gal pals/partners,
Velda Tan and Viola Tan. Ten years later, she finds herself running a company that is reportedly worth seven figures, they’ve just moved into a lofty new office, and the business is expanding beyond Singapore into Malaysia and Indonesia — with a dozen other achievements under her belt which we, unfortunately, do not have time to go into.
OK, we know you’re eager to skip to the part where you actually get to see Rachel’s wardrobe, but let us just say this: We love a girl who doesn’t let success or fame get to her head, who stays grounded and let her work and success do the bragging. Oh, and the good manners. It’s all so very Emma Watson ❤️ — the kind of young woman role model the society craves amid the commotion of gratuitous self-promotion. It’s comforting to know that right here at home, we have a Sophia Amoruso or Emily Weiss in the making, isn’t it?
On the beginning of Love, Bonito
“Ten years ago, Viola (Tan), Velda (Tan) and I started selling pre-loved clothing online on the LiveJournal platform. When we ran out of clothes to sell, we decided to import pieces from Thailand and Korea. But we weren’t happy with the designs and quality, which led us to start Love, Bonito so we can design and manufacture for our own label.”
On being an entrepreneur.
“I’ve always wanted to make an impact in people’s lives — that’s why I studied to be a teacher. Then came a point in my life when I had to choose between completing my studies and going full throttle with the business (which meant breaking my study bond) because I could no longer juggle both. I chose the latter because I was young and I thought, if my business failed, I could always go back to studying later. I knew I needed to strike while the iron was hot, and I didn’t want to go through life wondering: ‘What if?’ I’m glad I took the risk.”
WE CAN’T FAIL UNTIL WE QUIT.
On going from girl-next-door to #Girlboss,
and her advice to anyone trying to pursue their true passion.
“My dad is a taxi driver and my mum a secretary. When I decided to quit university, I convinced my parents to lend me a significant sum of money (almost all their savings) to pay off my study bond so that I could pursue my business. I had no experience in business management or background in design — it was pretty daunting to say the least. So I have the ‘angels’ who have come along in my life to guide, help and advice me to thank for my success. That, and I never stop learning. It’s really important to believe in yourself and follow your intuition. If there was something I could go back in time to tell my younger self, it’d be to know my strengths, embrace them and stop wishing I was someone else. As soon as I came to terms with that, I was able to start working on them and become better at what I do.”
On the Top 5 lessons learned these last 10 years.
“My brothers and mum are my biggest pillar of emotional support.
When I really believe in something and want something, I go all out to achieve it.
I am pretty strong mentally — I have the ability to shut out the negative voices when I want to.
I really love being around people and connecting and interacting with them.
I never knew how much I love reading!”
On the meaning of success.
“Success, to me, is being in the position to touch lives. I am starting to see my influence as a leader, and how I can use my strengths to connect with people; to make a difference in their lives and help them to discover their own strengths and purpose; to give them a platform to flourish and fulfil their fullest potential. Success also means discovering your potential, and fulfilling your destiny.
It’s really important to believe in yourself and follow your intuition.If there was something I could go back in time to tell my younger self, it’d be to know my strengths, embrace them and stop wishing I was someone else. As soon as I came to terms with that, I was able to start working on them and become better at what I do.
Would you say you have achieve success by your own definition?
Rachel Lim: Well, I’d say I am on my way there.
What gets you out of bed every day?
RL: Knowing that I can challenge myself and push myself to be and do better; that I’m one step closer to reaching my goals and dreams. And the thought that I can help those around me, make a difference in their lives, and influence and inspire them.
Do you have a morning ritual that helps you start the day right?
RL: I try to squeeze in a workout and a podcast every morning before I head to work.
What is your mantra?
We can’t fail until we quit. Bloom where you’re planted. Stay your course, walk your path.
Do you think it’s possible to be successful and nice?
RL: Nice is subjective. I always strive to be fair. Yes, I think it is possible to be successful and fair.
What’s been the best and hardest part of building Love, Bonito?
RL: The best part is definitely being able to help and bring out the best in the people I’ve been blessed to work with. And the hardest has been to keep believing in myself when things get
very, very tough. It’s easy to throw in the towel and give up. But when I am reminded of my purpose, Love, Bonito’s purpose, I simply cannot.
Self-doubt and undervaluing our capabilities are very real issues women — even the best of us — face. Do you have any advice?
RL: It took me a while to realise and understand this, but when I did, it completely changed my life. Individually, we are not meant be good at everything. We need to work on our strengths, keep getting better at what we are good at, and surround ourselves with people whose strengths can complement and elevate ours.
We’re in your wardrobe — let’s talk about style. What is “style”? Who is/are you style icon(s)?
RL: Style is an expression of who you are. Right now, my style icons are Victoria Beckham, Chriselle Lim and Olivia Palermo.
What’s your go-to outfit for that extra boost of confidence?
RL: Our bodycon midi tank dress. It always works.
What is an absolute no-no in your style book?
RL: Denim shorts paired with heels.
Do you plan your outfit the night before? Or are you more spontaneous?
RL: Haha, true to my nature — spontaneous!
Where do you like to shop?
Flats of heels?
RL: Increasingly, flats.
You could tell a lot from a woman’s wardrobe. Can you describe yours with five adjectives?
RL: Could-be-neater. Colourful. Fun. Feminine. And spontaneous.
Are Singaporean women stylish (be honest now!)?
RL: I’d say that we are getting better! Haha.
You’ve told me that Love, Bonito aims to convey a message of female empowerment. How can clothes make one feel good about herself? How do you propose one goes about finding her personal style?
RL: You can’t deny that when you put on a good outfit, you immediately feel good and confident. You stand taller, speak more assuredly. Come attend a Love, Bonito personal-styling session, and we’ll show you how to discover your style!
What’s favourite style blog?
RL: Right now it’s The Chriselle Factor by Chriselle Lim!
STYLE IS AN EXPRESSION OF WHO YOU ARE.
Who is your WoW Woman?
RL: My mum.
How do you beat stress?
RL: Go for a run or talk to my brothers.
Where is your favourite restaurant these days?
RL: Bruno’s along Tanjong Katong.
Your comfort food is…
Your favourite colour?
When you need a moment of quiet with yourself, where do you go?
RL: I hide out in my room and read, or just spend some time alone with my thoughts.
Where’s your favourite city in the world?
You can’t leave home without…
RL: My water bottle! I need to stay hydrated.
What are you reading now?
RL: Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek.