With multiple collaborations, partnerships and product line expansions, Southeast Asia’s omnichannel fashion brand, Love, Bonito, has come a long way since its humble beginnings. We speak to co-founder Rachel Lim on their journey to success.
Celebrating 11 years in the industry is a milestone for any entrepreneur. In this case, the co-founder of the female-driven fashion brand Love, Bonito has achieved numerous accomplishments. If you didn’t know, Love, Bonito is originally labelled as BonitoChico in 2005 before a massive rebranding. What started as a blog shop selling pre-loved goods, the founders gradually shifted to sourcing clothes overseas and eventually, the booming business we see today.
Since rebranding in 2010, the company has footprints in 10 key markets across Asia, Australia and North America, including the launch of its Hong Kong and Japan websites to cater to local customers.
“Love, Bonito would not be what it is today if not for the #LBCommunity and #teamLB. We would not be celebrating 11 years without our customers’ letters, feedback and guidance – it has been such a privilege to serve and grow alongside them. We have evolved tremendously since the early days, expanding our categories and product lines, catering to women in various seasons of their lives,” Rachel shares.
What resonates with the #LBCommunity is the vision of empowering women through collaborations and product lines, from Intimates, Maternity, Kids, and beyond. The brand also launches its social impact arm, LBCreate, as a commitment to tackle women-related issues.
“We exist to empower the everyday Asian woman at every stage of their life through thoughtful designs and experiences. We believe that great designs can and should be accessible for all. Feeling and looking great should not be limited to just a privileged few, and we’re here to equalise that. We believe we are in the business of women and not the business of fashion,” she explains.
Believe it or not, starting this empire was an incidental venture among her friends for extra pocket money at the time. “I remember we were self-packing parcels and did not know much about the retail business. Yet, childlike naivety and an unbridled passion to empower women through fashion propelled us further and deeper,” she shares.
“When we started importing pieces from overseas, there was always something I wish I could change through the way it fits, the design and the tone of colours. It was then that we decided to design and manufacture our own silhouettes.”
As we celebrate their business milestones, Rachel speaks to us about how other companies can learn and what their future goals are.
As a brand created by women, for women, we believe that when you empower women, you empower a whole community. Women have such multifaceted roles these days and they hold a lot of decision making power within the household as well. As such, the impact that comes from empowering women through equal opportunities in various aspects including education, work and societal roles will have a knock on effect, resulting in a more open and prosperous society.
My mum played a huge role in influencing the way I enjoy dressing up, mixing and matching. She may not be a fashion icon, but it is in her daily dressing that I observed how she mixed and matched patterns and colours. Her sense of style definitely has a part to play in my foray into fashion.
Fashion is all about self-expression, so, I don’t think there is a ‘perfect’ outfit. But, if you are asking what would be the best outfit that represents Love, Bonito, then that would be the Meisel Blazer and Pants. The suit set gives off a confident vibe of a multifaceted woman who is grounded, confident and is constantly working towards being the best version of herself.
Being a new mum, I initially had some challenges with work-life balance. I still do and am learning to manage better. The hardest part was taking the one month of maternity leave post-childbirth to recuperate as well as to bond with my son, as I often find my mind wandering back to the work tasks at hand.
However, I recently came across a quote by John Maxwell, a leadership expert, where he mentioned that we will have to determine which are the glass and rubber balls of our lives – which aspect of life we can afford to drop and it will still bounce back up and which of them will break when we let go. This analogy has helped me reframe my thoughts by learning how to prioritise.
Know exactly who you are. What drives you, what drains you, what your superpower is, what your values and principles are, what makes you tick. I strongly believe that we need to be able to understand and lead ourselves before we lead others. Knowing exactly who we also help us determine the kinds of people we bring on board to build this with us.
I believe that ultimately, it’s all about the right team and the right people, at the right stages of the business. Jim Collins has this analogy, and I subscribe to it completely – it is utterly crucial to get the right people at the right seat of the bus.
All images: Love Bonito