In the Hot Seat: Mumpreneurs of Harnes Singapore
Starting a business is challenging, especially if you’re a resource-strapped mum.
When it comes to running a business, many business owners may view the adoption of new technologies as a daunting initiative. This also rings true for women entrepreneurs, who face a unique set of challenges — apart from the potential lack of an effective support network, some may also feel intimidated by the sheer volume of tech solutions made available to them.
Rachel Lim, Co-Founder of Love, Bonito, was one of those women: while initially apprehensive about new technologies, she had learnt to embrace constant learning and experimentation to take her business to the next level. Since its inception in 2010, Love, Bonito now stands as one of the largest omni-channel women’s fashion brands in the region today.
In a candid conversation with The FinLab, Rachel shares some of her meaningful insights on adopting new technologies, working with the right partners and juggling motherhood with entrepreneurship.
Technology is an enabler for Love, Bonito. It has helped us build smoother relationships with customers, expand internationally, and deliver a better user experience. For instance, we rely on data and artificial intelligence to forecast inventory levels and monitor winning designs. By upgrading our website regularly, we offer customers a safe and secure checkout process, faster loading speeds, as well as relevant local content.
A few years into building Love, Bonito, I started to question its purpose in this world. However, inspiration struck from an unexpected place: I received an email from a customer who had experienced several major brain surgeries. She shared that our clothing helped her feel more confident and gave her the courage to face her challenges.
This message showed me the impact that Love, Bonito has on our community, and gave me the conviction to continue empowering the everyday Asian woman. It also reminded me that it’s important to know your purpose, and to remember why you started your business in the first place. These things will drive you forward, even during the toughest of times. It’s true when they say,
It is also important to recognise your strengths and weaknesses, and acknowledge that you may not know everything when it comes to running a business. I hired smart people who can complement my skill sets and are aligned with my values. Together, we can work towards a common goal.
I’m an avid reader of business and leadership books, and I listen to a lot of podcasts. These have helped me tremendously in both my personal and professional journey. Hearing people’s stories of success and failure have greatly helped me reframe my own mindset towards building a business, being a leader, and balancing work and family.
Some books that I’ve found particularly impactful include Think Again by Adam Grant, Atomic Habits by James Clear, and books by John Maxwell. I’ve also learned a lot, and am continuing to learn from the people I surround myself with. My mum is my support pillar and role model — I’ve watched her navigate so many difficulties and challenges, and she has never lost her sense of joy and hope.
It takes a village to raise a child, and to run a company! This realisation has been key in keeping me sane throughout my entrepreneurship journey. I know that I cannot do everything on my own, which is why I make it a point to find the right people to partner with, at the right time. However, you should not surround yourself with an echo chamber. You need tough feedback so you have a realistic picture of where you stand.
I have only arrived at this point after gaining a deeper understanding of myself. The entrepreneurship journey can get quite lonely, which is why self-care and self-leadership are key. Manage yourself: know what energises or drains you, regulate your emotional state, and take care of yourself before attending to others.
It is not only important to know your purpose, but you need to have confidence in yourself. Often, we are held back from our full potential by our self-limiting beliefs. But, we are all gifted differently, and we all have a unique purpose and calling.
We need to remember that we can take charge of our own path, and that we are worthy of the opportunities, recognition, and achievements that come our way. Entrepreneurship can be intimidating, so I recommend that mums looking to get into it should take small steps to test the market before diving deep.
For instance, we started Love, Bonito by selling pre-loved clothing under the label “BonitoChico” on LiveJournal. Over time, we saw a boost in consumer demand, and transitioned into designing our own clothing. By gradually testing your idea and managing risks, you can build up confidence in your business.
If you are looking to grow your business by implementing tech solutions, the Digital Mumpreneur Programme offers many opportunities to learn from industry experts, participate in workshops, and network with other businesswomen.