Hello, fashionistas of every planet and continent (lol). I am so excited to tell you about this amazing discovery of Love Bonito: Online store to Empire (squeals). I have been thinking about what to write about for days and one day, I found something intriguing.
As I surfed the internet, I came across a multimillion-dollar company built by three women at such a young age. The magnitude of the difference these women made inspired me. I was like, ‘God, these people are just amazing.’ Ordinarily, I thought writing about empires and fashion houses was too much work because I gotta have the facts. However, as I studied this particular company, I felt compelled to just tell you guys about it.
What is Love Bonito:
Love Bonito is a multi-million dollar brand that creates fast fashion for women. The company was founded by Rachel Lim and sisters Velda and Viola Tan. Now, Love Bonito didn’t become a multi-million dollar brand overnight. In fact, it started as an online blog turned store that sold second-hand clothes.
Love, Bonito is a brand that caters to Asian women’s fashion sense, thereby making it easy for them to buy affordable and sustainable clothes.
Timeline of the company:
The desire to make extra cash to aid their families’ income due to the Asian financial crisis became prominent when Rachel Lim and her friends, Velda and Viola Tan, were just in high school. All I could think about in high school were my grades and how to make my parents proud with school work (rolls eyes). The youngsters got the idea to start selling their second-hand clothes online and named their online blog store, BonitoChico. According to CNBC Make it: Rachel and her friends took advantage of the fact that online retail started in just 2005.
Due to the fact that people from all over, e.g Malaysia, Indonesia, and Hong Kong, could get through to them with one click, these three young founders had enough money to import more clothes and sell them. They never knew that decision was the beginning of an empire. C’mon, guys, you don’t think that’s impressive? What these women did at such a young age, made me realize that it is important to always take advantage of opportunities.
Two years later and their online blog store was booming. Bonitochico, as they formerly called it, was doing at least enough to support these three women with the vision of helping their parents. The online store went on to win the best blog shop award at the 2009 Asia-Pacific Nuffnang Blog Awards. However, in order for their business to keep growing, these founders knew they had to make a deeper commitment.
These three women had finished high school and were working on getting their degrees. However, with just a few months left to gain her teaching degree, Rachel decided to quit college. Gosh, I don’t think I’d ever be able to do that (yeah, maybe because my parents would kill me, laughs). This wasn’t an easy decision. In fact, during an interview with CNBC Make it, Rachel said; “I was juggling school and work, and I wasn’t excelling in both, and I realized that I had to focus on one,”.
What it meant:
The fact that she chose to quit college meant that she had to pay off a five-figure fee to that effect. Their business may have been doing well, but the income wasn’t nearly enough to pay off her debt. So, with nowhere else to turn, Rachel decided to do something unexpected; ask her mum for a loan. Okay, guys, let’s be real, if you were her parent, what would you say? (Laughs). My mother would say “after working my bones off to send you to school, you decide to quit and now ask me for money to pay off your debt? It’s not going to happen,”
Her mum did in fact put up some drama, but at the end of the day Rachel said, “She took a leap of faith and that’s one of the reasons why I knew I couldn’t fail.” Rachel loaned $300 from her mother to pay off her bond to the government and focus on their business full-time.
The founders thought it was time for a way forward. They decided to re-invent their business in order to cater to Asian women’s fashion styles. They usually imported and sold clothes that suited American and European women and saw that not many of the clothes were designed for Asian women. By doing so, these women started to employ their own team of designers to create affordable clothes that suited the typical Asian woman’s style. This meant smaller and kinder cuts.
The decision also sparked the re-branding of Bonitochico into Love, Bonito. Love, Bonito was chosen because it is said to be a signature of sorts. It was like sending out a love letter to their fellow Asian women. This got me saying, “aaawwwn”. They designed clothes ranging from gowns to skirts, tops, shirts, and many more.
The clothing company thrived, making and selling their designed outfits effectively and efficiently. However, at some point, one of the co-founders, Velda Tan, decided to leave the company, to pursue her own interests. The decision left Rachel Lim and Viola Tan as the sole co-founders of Love, Bonito.
The co-founders thought it was time to expand. Love, Bonito opened their first physical store in June 2015 at the Mid Valley Megamall in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The store sparked a new era for Love, Bonito as people from Asian countries could come and choose their outfits physically as well as order online. It wasn’t an easy feat either, as Viola and Rachel had to go in search of investors and put in an extra lot of work into the company.
Love, Bonito was already known across countries and continents, and soon Rachel went on to become both a speaker and panelist at many events. They continued to design different outfits, from all kinds of skirts to all kinds of shirts to all kinds of wear.
In 2018 -2019
Love, Bonito expanded again and opened its first store in Singapore at [email protected] They then went on to open another store, at Jem in December 2018. Rachel has also spoken at workshops and events organized by Love, Bonito. For example, the ‘DO IT LIKE A #WERKINGWOMAN’ event in March 2019
Over the span of five years, Love, Bonito expanded physically and opened many stores in Indonesia, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Cambodia. As of September 2020, the company had recorded nine stores in Indonesia, seven in Malaysia, and four in Singapore. Furthermore, their popularity spread far and wide, making the founders do a lot of public speaking to encourage others in their line of work.
Love, Bonito has gone from starting out as an ordinary online store to growing into an empire, having more than $5 million in net worth. The founders stated that they do not just sell clothes, but they sell confidence. I am in awe at what these women started at such a young age and they have gone on to inspire a lot of people. If they don’t inspire you, then check yourself. (Lol, just kidding though).
They have also gone on to gain more than $10 million in different investment schemes, including Japanese online retailer Kakaku.com, that helped fund their expansion into a host of physical stores. These women aren’t just ordinary store owners because they were able to build their companies from nothing. Their story and hard work have inspired a lot of fashionistas to reach out for their dreams and make them happen.
According to Wiki, Rachel spoke as a speaker for TEDx Talks. She said (In paraphrase): “Success to me is really discovering who you are. All of us are created with a very unique and special purpose in life. We are all gifted with different abilities. Success has different routes and is different for everyone.
It is not just about earning your first million, your tenth million, or living in the largest house. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world but lose his own soul? On this journey, I hope that you take the time to discover, embrace and accept all of yourself. You’re meant to succeed because of how unique and different you are.”
I simply love the way their company proceeded into an empire. So, in order for my own writing dream to be fulfilled, I need you guys to read my books. (Crying), C’mon guys, just read it and let me know your opinions. Okay? Okay (smiles).
Because It’s you on Libri: https://www.libri7.com/book/20457/Because-It’s-You
God bless you guys (love emoji)
Photo credit: google.com
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