Love, Bontio’s very own Rachel Lim has conquered every teenage girl’s entrepreneurial dream, from blogging and selling her pre loved clothes to starting one of Singapore’s top fast fashion empires. I had the privilege of attending her entrepreneurial workshop where she took us through her journey and highlighted the key aspects of creating and running your own business.
At this point the only brand I want to sell to the market is a positive perception of my self-image, i.e., projecting myself as the ideal employable candidate in a pool of talent. A few points she highlighted resonated with me one of which was to know my target market inside and out. A keen focus on your target market can ensure you not only stay on track but also make you the one to amongst competition. Rachel explains that she owes the success of her brand as well as her competitive advantage to being focused on her core target audience. She says that the brand won’t derail form the target market (young working Asian women between the ages of 22 to 34) as they have built a personal relationship with the demographic. “Even if I want to cater to the most stylish women in Singapore I won’t because that’s not who we are. Continue to be a big sister to our customers”. Putting this in my perspective means looking at my prospective employers as my target and directing all my efforts in building my portfolio around what they want to see. This basically means trying to please the Vogue team vetting through my portfolio… Yup, not daunting at all.
An emotional connect with the customer was an important step in building your brand. Love, Bonito’s USP is to make an impact in women’s lives- the clothing is made to empower a woman. Forming an emotional connect with your demographic allows the recall factor to increase. One of the main ways they executed it was when it came to the fit of the clothing. If you’ve read my earlier posts: The Wrong Fit in Fashion, you would know that the typical Asian body structure is proportioned differently as compared to that of the Eurasian or American body type. The brand saw the gap in the sizing market and therefore design the clothes based on the new proportions. This allowed the customer to see the endearment which Love, Bonito has towards them and helped with the loyalty the customers had to the brand.
Being relatable was another tip Rachel added to gaining an emotional connect with the customer. When they initially started out the founders themselves (Rachel Lim and Velda Tan) were the faces of the brand. The customers identified with them and in turn thought of them as relatable rather than intimidating. Applying that to my self-branding efforts would mean I would have to find a balance between being professional and relatable. To engage in projects which will have an emotional connect for example, working with a relevant fashion industry NGO and gaining experience in that field could help me connect emotionally with brands that support the same cause (Ethical Trade Initiative and Inditex).
Building relationships is crucial in any industry you want to work in and as Rachel Lim likes to put it you need to have a good “Guānxì” with each sector of the industry in order to ensure your business runs smoothly. Getting a good manufactures support was tough but it was that strong relationship that she build that allowed the 7 year partnership to continue even today. Networking is an important skill I need to develop and practice over the next year in order to advance in the industry. Any opportunity in the fashion industry be it a talk, a conference, a workshop, or even a party is another opportunity for me to network here and build strong relationships. With curiosity budding and opportunities knocking on my door all I have is one question that needs to be answered: where can I sign up?
Finally one of the most important points from the talk was to never copy your competitor. Being unique can brand you as a new entity, something which intrigues people. Taking directly from what others know can be boring, unethical and at the end of the plain wrong. The saying goes ‘steal from the best and MAKE IT YOUR OWN’; most people forget the second part. Modelling myself after the greats is always a good way to go as long as I still keep my persona intact.
The talk taught me how to brand myself to my future employers. With the core focus of my dream job in mind there’s no telling when I’ll be the head of my own fashion magazine empire. Love, Bointo just got me that much closer to it.