Dressed for financial success
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Dressed for financial success

Sep 2023
Apr 2022

Long before the days of Instagram Shop and while online shopping was still in its infancy, Rachel Lim came together with a group of friends to sell their pre-loved clothes online to earn additional pocket money. 

Soon enough, Rachel and her friends found that they had run out of clothes to sell.

The success of that project prompted them to use the money they had earned to go overseas to import clothes back to Singapore to meet the high demand. 

She was convinced that there was a gap in the market for clothes that catered to Asian women. So Rachel dropped out of university to focus her attention on setting up the business properly, together with her co-founders, leading to the birth of Love, Bonito.

Today, Love, Bonito has blossomed into a household name, and its brand synonymous with female empowerment.

Despite not having a background in design or fashion herself, Rachel’s creative and entrepreneurial flair could perhaps be tied back to a distinct childhood memory: prom.

“I really wanted to attend prom, but we were not able to afford a prom dress for me,” she recalls. “So what my mom taught me was, why don't we try to be creative and look at whatever pieces of designs or dresses that we have? What can we do with (them) to put together a prom dress for myself?”

She adds: “I think my mom really taught me the value of looking at what we have and making the best out of it.”

“Growing up in that environment also made me realise that I really want to work hard.”
Love Bonito - Rachel Lim

The Asian Financial Crisis was one that hit Rachel particularly close to home. That fateful year, her father was going through bankruptcy as a result of the economic downturn.

“I saw how my mother had to take on multiple jobs to provide for the family. We also had to move out of our flat into a one-room flat to live with my grandma, so that we could conserve cash to meet as much of our expenses as possible,” she recalls.

Her family was forced to live from day to day, as any income that was earned went straight to their daily expenses, bills, and rent. The phrase “hard-earned money” was one that she observed firsthand, and one that remains etched in her mind.

“Growing up in that environment also made me realise that I really want to work hard.”

And work hard she did. When Rachel was still in school, she took on various part-time jobs on the side — from waitressing to being a retail sales assistant — to earn additional pocket money.

With the extra money she had, she would catch the latest blockbuster in the cinema or treat herself and her loved ones to a sumptuous meal — luxuries that she couldn’t afford when she was younger. 

Then she started Love, Bonito. The rest, as they say, is history. 

Today, one thing that Rachel wishes she had learnt earlier was knowing how to be “smarter” with her money. She recalls growing up in an environment where her parents, for the most part, were struggling to make ends meet. The idea of setting aside a portion of her income for the future — for growing and investing — was unheard of to her.

“I wish I had been exposed to that in other ways to really understand what to do with the salary that would come in every month,” she says.

These days, Rachel has taken greater ownership of her financial wellness by exploring various financial platforms and learning more about the world of investing. While she feels that she could definitely do more to “preserve and grow” her money, she also believes that it is never too late to start, and that one’s financial literacy is a continuous journey of growth.

“I know that I cannot just depend solely on a salary. And I think it's important to also be smart with the money that I receive every month through work — to grow it, to serve me better.”

But to her, the reward doesn’t just come from seeing the numbers in her bank account grow. Instead, it’s about being able to share the fruits of her labour together with those around her.

As someone who self-proclaims her love language to be food, Rachel enjoys bringing people together over a good meal. So a part of the money she earns now is also spent on experiences — shared experiences — such as feasting together with her family and friends.

“Food is definitely a huge part of my life,” she says.

Her love for food, and the significance it has in her life, was largely influenced by her mother.

“Growing up, when I watched my mom and her relationship with money, it was tough. She really worked so hard to ensure that she could provide for the family. And she also worked really hard to ensure that during our birthdays, our family members’ birthdays, there would always be something special, be it a little cake or a home cooked meal with special ingredients and dishes.

“And I really saw that generosity within her. Even with the little that she had, (she) spent it with family, with friends, to have a good meal, to feast and fellowship together. So those are the values that I really hold true to,” she adds.

At the same time, Rachel hopes that the effort she’s putting in to improve her financial literacy and wellbeing will inspire her little one to follow suit in the future.

“I know that I cannot just depend solely on a salary. And I think it's important to also be smart with the money that I receive every month through work — to grow it, to serve me better.”
Love Bonito - Rachel Lim

“What’s most important (that) I’ve realised with my own upbringing is that (children) will model after their parents,” she says.

So when it comes to her values and attitude towards money, she adds that the onus is on her to set a good example for the next generation.

“I am responsible for my attitude towards money and how I also in turn nurture and impart those values to my kids.”


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