How E-Commerce Entrepreneur Rachel Lim Built Her Fashion Empire
The co-founder of Singapore fashion label Love, Bonito, Rachel Lim discusses empowering women through clothing and finding her footing as a leader
Originally started by Lim and two friends as a blog shop selling pre-loved items, the company has evolved into a fashion empire offering its own range of products designed with Asian female body types in mind. A pioneer in Singapore's e-commerce space, it was also one of the country's first fashion brands to have an online presence.
Since rebranding to its current guise in 2010, Love, Bonito has expanded into 10 markets across Southeast Asia, East Asia, Australia and the US, and ships to 20 locations worldwide. And with the recent US$50 million Series C funding it raised from investors such as Primavera Capital Group, the omnichannel brand will continue to accelerate its growth in these existing markets.
Under Lim’s leadership, the fashion brand has also ventured beyond offering chic, affordable clothing to consumers (the brand releases over 100 new designs every month). It also raises awareness about women’s issues among its global community through purpose-driven initiatives and partnerships.
In 2021, the brand launched its social impact programme, LBCreate, to fund, connect and support women’s causes globally. Its first partnership with Barbie supports girls’ education through the global non-profit organisation Room to Read.
“We are in the business of women and fashion is just one conduit for us [to fulfil our goals],” says Lim. “By supporting other women, we’re also supporting their communities.”
In helping other women to find their confidence, Lim has been open with her own struggles as well. “Society has a way of telling us what leaders are meant to be,” she says, recalling the early days of her startup career when she’d try to emulate the behaviours of other pioneering entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs. “I would really hate myself for [doing so]. I’d realise that this was not me at all.”
Over the years, she came to understand her role as a leader and set her own path. Now, she says, “my definition of success is this quote by American philosopher [Ralph Waldo Emerson] that goes, ‘To be yourself in a world that’s constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.’”
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