Profile of Love, Bonito Co-founder, Rachel Lim
Rachel Lim is the co-founder of homegrown, multi-million dollar fashion label, Love, Bonito.
Lim launched her first apparel business with friends Viola and Velda Tan in 2005, which took the form of a second-hand clothing blog shop called BonitoChico. In 2010, during her final year at Nanyang Technological University, the trio rebranded the shop as Love, Bonito, a fashion label focused on designing pieces for Asian women instead. In 2016, aged 28, Lim was named one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30s in Asia.
Although the online retail landscape in Southeast Asia was still in its early stages in the mid-2000s, BonitoChico quickly rose in popularity. This was evident by 2009, when members of the blogging community voted BonitoChico as the ‘Best Blogshop’ in the Nuffnang Asia-Pacific Awards. Her World magazine called the business “the blogshop to beat”.
As teenagers, Rachel Lim, Viola Tan, and Velda Tan imported pre-loved clothes and sold them though an online blog. It was a novel idea at that time and slowly gained traction online. However, the trio soon realised that international fashion labels often did not cater to the more petite sizes of Asian women, and they decided to create their own designs with a specific focus on Asian sizing and climate. With that, Love, Bonito was born.
How has Love, Bonito grown?
The fashion label’s first physical store was only launched in 2017 in Singapore, in the midst of a downward brick-and-mortar retail trend. Lim believed that physical stores would be additional touchpoints for the brand to better understand their customers.
As of 2022, Love, Bonito currently has six brick-and-mortar stores in Singapore, and the fashion label has a retail presence in Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, and Hong Kong. It has 17 retail stores in total, and an international e-commerce presence in the Phillippines, Australia, China, UAE, and the United States.
Did you know?
Lim quit her NIE post grad studies and chose to pay back the teacher training bond she owed as she wanted to focus on her business. She has previously said in interviews that she even had to borrow a five-figure sum from her mother in order to do so.
“One of the reasons why I knew I couldn’t fail with Love, Bonito was that I didn’t want to let my mum down. I didn’t even think of a Plan B, should that not work out.”
Gilchrist, Karen. (2020, March 3). “This 32-year-old borrowed her mom’s life savings and built a multimillion-dollar fashion empire”. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/03/love-bonito-ceo-rachel-lim-built-a-multimillion-dollar-fashion-empire.html
Her World. (2010, March 15). “Stylish Dresser: Viola Tan of Bonitochico”. Accessed April 6, 2022. https://www.herworld.com/fashion/stylish-dresser-viola-tan-bonitochico/
OSIM Contributor. (2021, October 21). “Dare To Dream: Rachel Lim, Cofounder of Love, Bonito”. https://www.forbes.com/sites/osim/2021/10/21/dare-to-dream-rachel-lim-cofounder-of-love-bonito/
Poh, Olivia. (2021, October 27). “Fashion retailer Love, Bonito bags US$50m to fund international expansion”. https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/garage/fashion-retailer-love-bonito-bags-us50m-to-fund-international-expansion
Tay, Suan Chiang. (2019, September 27). “Rachel Lim, Co-founder, Love, Bonito”. https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/lifestyle/weekend-interview/rachel-lim-co-founder-love-bonito
Tee, Karen. (2021, May 6). “How Love, Bonito’s Rachel Lim is building a fashion empire from Singapore”. https://cnalifestyle.channelnewsasia.com/style/love-bonito-singapore-fashion-rachel-lim-255561