Serena Forlino, Founder – Bohology
Beginning her career as a stylist and moving onto fashion designing in Milan, Serena Forlino has been involved in Italy’s fashion industry for over a decade now. She fell in love with Asia, especially Singapore when she used to visit her family here.
Serena started Bohology a year ago, to create a different way of doing retail based on relationship with customers. Bohology brings unique and exclusive selection of Jewellery, Bags, Dresses, Shoes and many more for women and men.
Serena strives to inspire people to explore treasures from Italian Fashion destinations & exotic locations like a jet-setter would do, all under one roof without the need of travelling abroad. “My business is my passion! I love unique, different products so I started travelling to find hand-crafted pieces and exclusive designs for my clients.” she says.
Here are some insights about Serena Forlino and Bohology shared with the team of ABT.
Tell us about the journey of Bohology and its reach so far.
Bohology began with private events and one year ago I opened the boutique in a traditional shop house in the historic heart of Chinatown: it’s a cosy space where to connect and share stories. The shop is not about just buying a product; it’s getting to know the artisans and the story behind every piece or to know more about Italian tradition and materials. I have recently launched my website www.bohology.com where I would like to translate the intimate sphere of connection that exists in my boutique to the online world through interactive and customized services for customers.
Who is your inspiration and why?
Frida Kahlo, one of the Mexico’s greatest artists, is my constant inspiration. She began painting after she was severely injured in a bus accident, drawing on her cast with the help of a mirror. What is great about her is that she didn’t care about what other artists were doing at her time to maintain a similar style, instead she expressed her own reality and imagination, with her beauty and her flaws, so she’s unique and outstanding. This is what I like to be, and this is how I like to inspire my customers to be everyday: unique and expressing their true selves, regardless of trends. “I am my own muse, I am the subject I know best, the subject I want to know better.” – Frida Kahlo
What circumstances inspired you to choose the path of entrepreneurship?
People oftentimes asked me where I found what I was wearing when out, until the day when I thought how fun it would be to do what I like most, to search unique and outstanding pieces and to make them available through a shop for people who appreciate and enjoy the same experience. This is the moment when I spontaneously became an entrepreneur. Before that, I looked at entrepreneurs and thought: “How do they manage the continuous stress of reinventing themselves and being constantly obliged to develop in some ways their business?”. Well I found out that when you have a passion behind it, everything comes naturally, new ideas constantly flow in, there is a great desire to develop and improve things, but most importantly a healthy fool’s recklessness that spices up your everyday life. I also grew up in a family of entrepreneurs, they are my main mentor and they are the persons who inspired me in having more confidence to create my own business.
How does Bohology create a niche in the industry?
Bohology is not a company created to sell products to unknown customers. Instead it’s a company created to tailor experiences, products and services around people who appreciate what’s unique about us and our products. Every time a customer comes to Bohology, or contact us through the website, we like to get to know the person, to create a long term relationship. We like them to have the experience of travelling and shop in different places like a bohemian jet-setter would do without the need of travelling. One moment we make you feel you’re trying on your hat in Tuscany sipping a coffee and do people watching in our historic villages bars, the other you are trying on your linen dress exclusively crafted for you in Positano, Amalfi coast from the same tailor where Hollywood celebrities shop since the 50s. This is Bohology. Or you can think of the services we provide free of charge, for example our “red carpet fitting”: we tailor or alter any women dress or men’s shirts that customers buy at our shop, to make them feel like they have been custom made for them. Bohology is your very own private personal shopper and atelier.
Did you face any challenges and how did you overcome it?
When I started four years ago, even if a big global financial crisis already happened, people in every industry thought that the situation was improving and settling down for the good. Then something unexpected happened: the global financial markets started to go high wire on a daily basis, and banks closed and Isis came in. This was the moment to face a challenge: every entrepreneur who survived it learnt that from that moment on we would have only lived in constant ever changing crisis, so in order to be successful and resilient we should have had to learn how to be deeply aware of the world current affairs and to be fast. What customers needed in the past was steady, what they need today changes even more times in a day, and our job and main inspiring challenge is to be able to understanding them but most importantly listening to them carefully.
If you were to do one thing differently, what would that be?
Nothing. I believe that mistakes are the best way to learn, so I treasure them and move on. The most important thing is not to repeat them!
What would you like to achieve in the next coming years?
I would like to reach more customers who appreciate Bohology, also from other locations in Asia. The most important thing is, though, that I would like to maintain the same niche style without the need to aspire to reach a huge mass market. In this way I’ll be able to keep the same values that inspired me to open my company, which inspire my customers too, the quality of my products and the fun of the experience that is shopping at Bohology.