Rachel Lim is the multi talented co-founder of one of our favourite home grown fashion brands, Love Bonito. After welcoming her son Ollie in 2021, her business continues to go from strength to strength. This Mother's Day, we sit down with Rachel to talk all things Love, Bonito, and find out how this busy mum of one finds that elusive work-life balance - it takes a village!
Rachel Lim is one inspiring woman. Mum to her baby son, Ollie, Rachel is also forging forward with an exciting line-up of plans to expand one of our favourite home-grown brands, Love, Bonito, internationally into key markets such as Japan, Hong Kong, the Phillippines and the United States. That’s not all – Love, Bonito will also move beyond fashion (we can’t wait to see activewear and accessories added to the line-up!) So with all of this happening in her business, how does this busy mum-of-one keep it all together? We discover her tips for looking and feeling great and her secret to achieving work-life balance…
Hi Rachel, thanks for chatting with us! Can you tell us what inspired you to create Love, Bonito in the first place?
My co-founders and I started Love, Bonito (previously named BonitoChico), selling our pre-loved clothes for extra pocket money. As demand for our clothes increased, we started importing clothes from overseas to sell. However, we noticed that clothing from international brands did not fit nor flatter Asian women well since we are built differently when it comes to body frames and skin tones. Moreover, our local climate and preferences are different too. There was always something that we wanted to change about the apparel that we imported, be it the way it fits, the design details or the colours. So, we decided to design our own apparel to fill that gap and produce thoughtful apparel to empower the everyday Asian woman to look and feel good. That was how Love, Bonito was born.
What attracted you to dedicate your life to the business of fashion, or as you have previously said, to women?
At Love, Bonito, we believe that we are not in the business of fashion but in the business of women. During the early years of building Love, Bonito, I received an email from a customer who had gone through a major skull reconstruction. She shared that our clothing helped her feel more confident and gave her the courage to face her challenges. This showed me the impact that Love, Bonito has on our community and gave me the conviction to empower women and inspire self-confidence through what we do, and we have never looked back since.
You recently welcomed your son Ollie (16 months). How has becoming a mum changed you?
Being a mum has forced me to ruthlessly prioritise. With limited time in a day and as taking care of my son Ollie takes up a significant portion of that, I have no choice but to learn to prioritise as much as possible. Becoming a mum has also given me so much perspective on what’s most important at the end of the day, and it motivates me to want to do and be better to leave a legacy for Ollie!
How would you describe your parenting style?
I am still discovering my style of parenting and adjusting along the way. At this stage of Ollie’s life, when he is about 16 months, I spend a lot of time holding space for him, guiding him to communicate as much as he can with words, gestures and expressions. I generally agree with the Montessori way of parenting!
Have you found your rhythm and that elusive work-life balance?
I’m constantly learning and navigating when it comes to integrating work and life. A sharing by leadership expert John Maxwell helped me reframe my thoughts and taught me how to prioritise. He spoke about determining the rubber and glass balls in our lives, which aspect of life we can afford to drop and will still bounce back up and which will break when we let go. For me, spending time with my son, Ollie, is a priority.
That’s why when I’m at work, I give my 100%, and when I’m with my son and my family, I give them my fullest attention too. It is also helpful that we have flexible work arrangements at Love, Bonito. This allows me to spend time with Ollie when he needs me more and run errands even during the day. Such flexibility overcomes the challenges of a 9-to-5 routine, which helps me better juggle between work and my family.
Do you have any advice you could offer to new mums or tips you have learned on your parenting journey so far?
My advice for new mums is to never be ashamed to ask for help. Be honest with yourself about how you are managing – if you can’t cope or are feeling overwhelmed, reach out to your community to get help. That has helped me so much as a new working mum. It takes a village to build a strong home!
What is your greatest triumph, and what do you see as your biggest setback? How did you overcome that challenge?
In my early 20s, I struggled with discovering who I was as an individual and as a leader. When you look around in society and the media, you often see that leaders tend to look or act a certain way, and I was not like that. It made me wonder if I was not meant to be a leader, and that was a huge struggle.
It took a while, but I went on a journey to discover and embrace who I am. I chose to focus on my strengths and hone in on them while acknowledging my limits. I recognise that it is okay to not be great at certain things because I am not afraid to surround myself with people who are smarter than me and can complement my skill sets in different areas to succeed together. As such, my greatest triumph is being able to be true to who I am and not be afraid of being myself.
What’s on your wishlist this Mother’s Day?
A spa session would be lovely!