Business |

The Story of a Young Woman
Who Built a Fashion Empire in Asia

If you are thinking about how to breakthrough in your career and build a successful business, you should know that this is not an easy thing. But it should be noted that this is also nothing you can't handle. Rachel Lim also faced a difficult challenge, deciding to start her own business and borrow life savings from her own mother. At that time she was 21 years old and as a student, she had to deal with a 5-digit amount owed for graduating from university. She wanted to fulfill one of her dreams, but she was without money and turned to the only possible person asking for help. 

"I was signed to management, so I had to pay off a debt to drop out of school and start a business," said a 32-year-old Singaporean businesswoman for CNBC Make It  my mom. " Everything could have happened. Even then, her mother had two jobs to support the family. This was due to the Asian crisis in 1997, which deprived her father of business as a shipping broker. That's why Lim had to make sure her business dream didn't end in failure. 

"It simply came to our notice then. I couldn't give up, "she said
 Lim is one of the co-founders of the women's fashion brand Love, Bonito, which is sewn especially for the Asian market.The creations of this 32-year-old millionaire adorn women's wardrobes from Hong Kong through Australia to the USA. But in the beginning, 15 years ago, when she ran a second-hand blog in Singapore with her sisters Viola and Velda Tan, it didn't look like that at all. "We thought, 'Well, why not sell our worn clothes online that we no longer want?' The clothes we wore once, twice or so, we will never wear again. "She said. At the time, they had no idea what they had begun. In 2005, online sales in Southeast Asia were still in their infancy, but the rise of technology has made people more eager to shop online.

"People from Malaysia, Indonesia, or Hong Kong, for example, will only hear about us if they come across our blog or website. That's when we realized that we could reach people from all over the world with a single click, "said Lim. This step sets things in motion. Once a clothing blog called BonitoChico, it has developed into a prestigious fashion site. 
 But there was something wrong with Lim. "If we were to import clothes for sale, we still found something I wanted to change," she said. It was this fact that gave the idea to young founders: To create a new fashion line, specially designed for Asian women, with smaller sizes and children's cuts. 

They gave their business a fresh look, changed their name to Love, Bonito - and evocative love letter for their customers - and created in-house designs that are more dimensional. 
 Young businesswomen knew that in order to achieve something huge, they had to give themselves fully. In 2009, when Lim was only 8 months away from winning the degree, she left college and focused only on business. Gradually, Viola and Velda joined her. "I tried to combine school and work together, but I didn't excel in either. I realized I only had to focus on one thing, "Lim said, even though it meant leaning on her mom and asking for help. 

She was really scared because online sales had just started," Lim said of her mother. "She was really worried about whether it was legal or if the government would follow us." 
As usual, there is often a big risk behind great success, and it was no different from Love, Bonito. In the following years, Lim and its co-founders became even more united for their dream of creating an affordable and affordable fashion line for the Asian market. 

This required hiring a team of designers who were able to do everything from the procurement of fabrics, their selection to the development of the final product.
 In 2014, Viola resigned from Love, Bonino, but Viola remained and is still a full member of the team. Meanwhile, Lim has become the brand leader and has become one of the leading entrepreneurs in Southeast Asia. In 2016, at the age of 28, she became a member of the Forbes 30 under 30 rankings in Asia. And in January 2020, she met with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to discuss startup s in the city-state. 

"It's a very interesting path for some women entrepreneurs to take. There is something more than their ambition, "she added. "Gradually, I repaid everything I owed her." 
Despite the initial positive cash flow due to regular sales turnover, this growing profile also helped Love, Bonito obtain external financing. To date, the business has raised more than $ 10 million from investors, including Japanese online retailer Kakaku.com, which has helped them expand from the Internet to brick-and-mortar stores.  But the real win for Lim was that she proved to her mother that she had paid off her risk. 

"Gradually, I paid her all the money," Lim said. "My priority was not to have to work in three jobs or work so hard and long." 

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