Two women pose in front of the camera in a fashion company office. Blurred movement from women at work can be seen in the background.

Love, Bonito is made with love for the everyday Asian woman

How Rachel Lim built her line of womenswear from blog shop to empowerment brand

Rachel Lim, co-founder (left) and Dione Song, CEO (right).

Courtesy of Love, Bonito

Words by Pooja Shah

The world of entrepreneurship for women can be daunting and sometimes feel like a path not taken. For others, like Rachel Lim, co-founder of the womenswear brand Love, Bonito, the path was always obvious. In her early 20s, she and a few friends ran a blog shop called BonitoChico to "earn some extra pocket money." However, the venture quickly grew into something much bigger when Lim realized that the market didn’t reflect clothing that resonated with Asian women in terms of fit, style, and preferences.

So, the Singapore-based entrepreneur decided to rebrand into what is now known as Love, Bonito, a ready-to-live—not just ready-to-wear—brand that creates timeless and functional pieces to empower women from all walks of life.

She recently spoke to JoySauce about her entrepreneurial journey and the high and low points of influencing other women, especially Asian women, to pursue their professional desires in spite of the volatility of entrepreneurship. 

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Pooja Shah: What inspired you to found Love, Bonito?
Rachel Lim: My vision from the beginning was clear: to offer accessible, well-fitting, and high-quality clothing that would not only enhance our customers’ outward appearance but also uplift their spirits. We believe that when we put on a well-made outfit, it has immense psychological effects on the way we feel about ourselves—we stand a little taller, speak a little louder, and shine a little brighter.

PS: What is the "look" that you are trying to sell with your clothing brand? How does that translate to all of the markets you are targeting outside of Asia?
RL: Love, Bonito is more than just about looking good in the mirror. It's about embracing the real lives of women or as we say, ready-to-live, not just ready-to-wear.

We focus on making infinitely wearable clothes, which are timeless feminine pieces. Whether it's a power suit that stays crisp all day, or an outfit with pockets, the clothes are designed to maximize comfort. Additionally, what sets Love, Bonito apart is our dedication to fit. Instead of relying on traditional fit models and industry-standard cutting, our garments are tried and tested by everyday Asian women. We understand their needs and preferences, from the most flattering neckline to how our pants move with their bodies. 

This ethos translates seamlessly across all the markets we target. Regardless of location or cultural background, women everywhere appreciate clothes that are both stylish and practical while transcending borders.

A woman poses with her arm leaning relaxed against a chair.

Rachel Lim, the co-founder of Love, Bonito.

Courtesy of Love, Bonito

PS: How do you distinguish your brand from others in a saturated market?
RL: What sets us apart is our commitment to being in the business of women, not just the business of fashion. We systematically track over 100 product attributes over 10 years of customer data per item and gather feedback from our customers to continuously improve our designs. Our data-driven approach allows us to identify designs in an otherwise fast market. Plus, as Dione Song our CEO would tell you, we experienced a high double-digit revenue growth in the U.S. market last year and we continue to expand. 

PS: How does your brand align with sustainability initiatives and move past fast fashion?
RL: Sustainability has always been ingrained in every aspect of our brand, from product design and production processes to our social impact initiatives. We are dedicated to minimizing our environmental impact and promoting social responsibility by ensuring our processes, materials, and practices uphold our core sustainability principles. We are actively working to reduce our carbon footprint by focusing on three core collections: signatures, staples, and capsule collection. This shift will help us starkly reduce the total number of styles produced by 60 percent.

PS: What have been some of the challenges of entrepreneurship? What's been the most exciting or rewarding part?
RL: Entrepreneurship has been a journey filled with both challenges and rewards. In my early 20s, I struggled with self-discovery, grappling with questions about who I was as an individual and as a leader. I had a preconceived image of how leaders should be, and it made me question if I was not meant to be a leader. But I learned that it’s okay not to excel in everything. 

During the early years of building Love, Bonito, I encountered one of the lowest points, where I even questioned the purpose of the brand. One day I received an email from a customer who, after undergoing major skull reconstruction, shared how our clothes had brought smiles to her days and gave her confidence. This touching message reaffirmed the purpose and mission of Love, Bonito, and it continues to fuel me through the toughest of times. It's a reminder that knowing our "why" is crucial—it empowers us to overcome any "how."

PS: As an Asian female entrepreneur and mother, what advice do you have for other Asian women?
RL: I've learned several lessons that I believe have been valuable. For young girls embarking on their future paths, my advice is to prioritize self-discovery. Understand who you are at your core, including what drives you, what drains you, what your superpower is, and what your values and principles are. By knowing yourself deeply, you can align your career choices with your true passions and strengths, ensuring a fulfilling journey ahead.

For mothers striving to balance work and family life, I've found that prioritization and productivity are key. Being a mom has taught me the importance of managing my time efficiently. On days when fatigue sets in and energy wanes, I remind myself to shift my perspective from "I have to do it," to "I get to do it." This simple mindset shift helps me reframe challenges as opportunities and approach them with renewed energy and enthusiasm. My advice boils down to self-awareness, resilience, and a commitment to continuous learning and improvement. 

Two women pose together, one sitting in a chair and the other on the chair's armrest.

Rachel Lim and Dione Song are committed to creating clothes that empower Asian women.

Courtesy of Love, Bonito

PS: How do your family and friends feel about your career choices? Is this career path what you envisioned wanting to do when you were younger?
RL: I’m so fortunate that my family has always been incredibly supportive of my decisions.

Throwback to almost two decades ago in 2005, I was studying to be a teacher at the National Institute of Education in Singapore, when I started BonitoChico. I had to make a decision to either double down and accelerate its growth or pursue my teaching career. I ultimately chose to take the leap of faith and strike while the iron was hot. At this pivotal point, my family was going through a rough patch. Money was tight at home; my mother had to work two jobs just to support us. But when she realized I had the dream of starting my own business, she lent me her savings with no hesitation. So, I told myself I had to make this work. I was willing to do whatever it took because we simply couldn’t afford to fail.

While this career path may not have been what I envisioned when I was younger, I recognized the importance of keeping the business going for the purpose it serves. Many individuals face pressure from their surroundings to make a choice—for example, to conform when it comes to staying in school or starting a business. It is important for you to know what you want to do and be fully committed to your dream when the opportunity comes around.

PS: How do you prioritize self care and your own wellness when times with the business might be up and down?
RL: Having adequate rest is important to me. When it’s time to recharge, I try to isolate myself from all work-related interferences, such as emails and social media work accounts. Don’t feel guilty about resting. You can’t pour from an empty cup, and have to first be nourished before you can take care of others. Take the time to talk to close family members or friends about how you’re feeling, work out or simply allocate a quick five minutes a day to do things that nourish you.

Published on April 15, 2024

Words by Pooja Shah

Pooja Shah is a lawyer and freelance writer based in New York City. She writes on food, culture, travel, wellness and lifestyle. More of her work is at