LAKSANIA - “EATERY WITH ACCEPTANCE”
What’s good here: Laksa Goreng & Laksania Chicken Satay (pictured above)
What type of laksa best represents Laksania’s story? The Kelantan Laksa. It is underrated and unappreciated.
By: Gabrielle Kum
Photos: Jade Teo & Laksania
Ms Tay Su Yin, 27, was in the Red Cross Society as a co-curricular activity back in secondary school. With her mother’s encouragement, she decided to join the social enterprise industry. Laksania has been helping the mentally and physically disabled by hiring and training them as kitchen staff and waiters.
“We don’t look at their disability but what they are good at,” said Ms Tay.
Laksa was chosen because it is a dish close to Ms Tay’s heart. The concept of Laksania was birthed from how Ms Tay was exposed to different types of Laksa when she was younger. When Laksania first started out, one challenge that Ms Tay faced was how the marketing of this eatery should be like. They struggled to decide who their target audience should be, whether it is for the older or the younger generation. They also had to choose between promoting their brand as a social enterprise or not.
Ms Tay emphasises that she did not want her customers to come because they want to support this group of people in society but because they really like the food. To overcome this, Laksania had mentors who came to give them advice that pointed them in the right direction.
However, the journey had not been smooth-sailing; many outlets had to be closed down as they were making a loss. But Ms Tay kept going. “It’s almost like a baby to us,” concluded Ms Tay when she described Laksania. She told us that it was not so easy to give up. Moreover, the staff was dependent on her company for their salary.
Nonetheless, the rewarding part about this whole journey was to see their staff becoming able to support themselves and their families. One such story was of their 23-year-old intellectually disabled staff. He, at 23, became the sole breadwinner of his family. His job at Laksania enabled him to not only attain a salary independently but helped him to be more confident. Looking back, Ms Tay felt that she should have done more research for her business and she cautions those who aspire to go into this area of work to do the same as well.