This is the final in our series SINGAPORE START-UP STORIES

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When Rachel Lim started the earliest version of Love, Bonito in 2006 with her two childhood friends, it was a passion project and a chance for the teenage girls to both spread their love for fashion, while earning extra pocket money too.

Having gone through various incarnations over the years, Love, Bonito is now firmly etched in Singaporean fashionistas’ minds and is one of the most talked about local fashion brands. The fast fashion brand has also evolved from an e-commerce retailer to pop-up stores to a physical store in 313@Somerset, as well as in Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta and Surabaya. The brand also has a huge online following, with over 140,000 likes on Facebook and over 100,000 followers on Instagram. Rachel’s own account has almost 95,000 followers on Instagram.

With the right amount of initiative, determination, inspiration and creativity, Rachel has helped to propel the brand into what it is today and is a source of inspiration to young entrepreneurs in Singapore. In fact, this year, she was named in the 30 Under 30 Asia list by Forbes, in the Retail and E-commerce category.

Here, Rachel talks about the challenges she has faced, how she defines success and why female entrepreneurs shouldn’t rush into things.

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What would you say has been the secret to Love, Bonito’s success?
Customers’ needs and wants are ever changing, and as a brand, it is very important for us to keep up with that and grow with them. Getting to know our Love, Bonito customers on every level consistently, understanding and spending time and effort to connect with them has attributed to our success.

How does it make you feel, to be one of very few Singaporean fashion labels who have made it?
We are very thankful and grateful to the community who has supported us through the years! We hope to continue to inspire and do Singapore proud by conquering the Asian market and pave the way for more Singaporean talent to dare to dream.

What role does fashion play in your personal life?
It’s a huge aspect! Every girl loves to dress up. At Love, Bonito we believe that when you look good, you feel good and confident. That’s why we’re here to empower women’s confidence through style.

What, to you, is the definition of being successful?
I believe that every one of us is unique and different, and we are all created for a different purpose. Success to me means being able to discover and know your purpose and live it.

What has been your biggest challenge, as an entrepreneur in Singapore?
A challenge faced is on how to look beyond the Singaporean market and know and identify the greater potential and opportunities outside our country that we can explore.

Do you see yourself as a role model for young female entrepreneurs?
No one talks enough about the hardships of running and building your own business. Entrepreneurship can be over glamourised by the media and people may not know the adversities you will face. I’m thankful for the opportunities to be able to share with university students and aspiring entrepreneurs about my personal struggles, journey, and lessons I have learnt.

What inspires you, personally and professionally?
The team of people I work with greatly inspires me. Their drive and commitment to building Love, Bonito keeps me going every day.

What advice would you give to women in Singapore who are thinking of becoming entrepreneurs?
You really need to know your purpose clearly so don’t rush into it! Because when the going gets tough, which it will, that’s the only thing that will keep you going. Do a thorough market research and see how you can stand out and distinguish yourself from the current competition.

This is the last of our series of inspiring stories about female entrepreneurs based in Singapore. If you’re looking for more inspiration, check out our stories about the HER WORLD WOMEN OF THE YEAR and YOUNG WOMEN ACHIEVERS, and discover this year’s winners: Meet your Her World Woman of the Year and Young Woman Achiever 2016!