Founding her first vegan business over 10 years ago, Jajah is one of Thailand’s first vegan entrepreneurs and doesn’t intend to slow down any time soon.
Jajah now has 6 Veganerie branches across central Bangkok, an online vegan store and her very own vegan collagen brand.
We spoke to Jajah in an exclusive interview about her inspirations, her day-to-day life and what is next for Veganerie.
Q. How did Veganerie start?
A. “The starting point was when I made my first vegan cake for my mom who had turned vegan 10 years ago. (I was vegetarian at that time and turned vegan a few years later.) I then started selling vegan cakes with the brand “Veganerie” at the market events.
When we first started people had hardly heard about vegan / plant-based food, which wasn’t a problem for us. It was great motivation to educate people and spread vegan messages through our work.
The mission is to be a vegan pioneer in Thailand and to improve the perception of vegan food to Thai people, especially the new generation; to inspire them to go vegan someday.
Image Source: Taste of Thailand
Within a year, we had lots of regular customers and new customers from around the world. In 2015 we decided to open our first vegan cafe at Mercury Ville. A year later, we opened the full restaurant, Veganerie Concept. The menu was extended to food. We also had a vegan grocery.
Our goal was to be a “Vegan Heaven” where you can find anything (food, bakery, dessert, coffee, smoothie and grocery) with a cozy & modern atmosphere where you can stay all day. We still remember many customers from around the world with suitcases and backpacks who came to us specifically on their first day in Bangkok. We are so grateful for love and support from all customers since the first day we started.”
Q. Who has been your biggest inspiration on your journey??
A. “Actually, I was inspired by many people over the years. The first business inspiration is Khun May AfterYou. She is such a legend! She inspired me to start my first dessert cafe (vegan version). Another big inspiration is my mom, who shows me how to be “kind but strong”. She always inspires me to be my best self.”
Q. What advice would you give entrepreneurs wanting to start a vegan business here in Thailand?
A. “You’ve got the right idea! Just start now. There are many opportunities for you because the vegan market in Thailand has only just started growing. My only suggestion is to try to go vegan when you start your business such as eat more plant-based food, use vegan leather, use cruelty-free products, etc. (no need to be 100% perfect, but try your best). This will give you insight into your customers and a passion behind the business.
Thailand has varieties of amazing natural resources at affordable prices. Lots of them seem to be common here but are very valuable in other countries such as jackfruit, brown rice, wofia, banana blossom, moringa etc. I think there are lots of opportunities to add value to these resources (with technology / R&D / creativity etc.). Many products from world famous brands are actually produced in Thailand!
It’s so nice to see more vegan businesses starting. The more vegan businesses there are, the more benefits to consumers, animals, the environment and the world. So please start now, we all need you all!”
Q. Have you seen the popularity for vegan food grow over the years?
A. “Yes. I can see that vegan/plant-based food has started to become popular to Thai people since last year (2020). Currently, there are many vegan products in the market that are good quality and have beautiful packaging at affordable prices such as plant-based meat, vegan cheese, plant milk, vegan ice-cream, coconut yogurt etc. Many of these brands are local too! This is such a great benchmark that reflects that most people have a positive perception of plant-based food.
I remember when I first went vegan, the vegan products in the market were 80% imported. I needed to buy vegan protein powder and stainless straws from amazon.com! I’m so happy that currently there are tons of good vegan products produced by local people.”
Q. What does your day-to-day look like as an entrepreneur?
A. “I normally wake up around 8 am. I start the day with a big breakfast and coffee with my family. I start work at around 10am and work until the evening.
When I get home, I always go straight to cuddling Jog (my adopted chicken) on the sofa. He’s so smart and comfortable with people. At night I go LIVE on my Facebook page 2-3 times a month. On Sundays I study between 8am-8 pm for my master’s degree (Master of Management. (M.M.).
My relaxing time is mostly self-care and me time such as skincare, makeup, getting dressed, and going shopping alone. I usually go to sleep at around 1 am.”
Q. Can you talk us through a ‘Jajah’s What I Eat In A Day’? What keeps you fuelled?
- Big Breakfast: Coffee (almond milk) + toast with nut butter / vegan cheese / avocado + grilled tofu + grilled veggies + fresh juice
- Lunch: Smoothie bowl / chia pudding with lots of superfoods and fruits
- Snacks: A vegan bakery / sun dried bananas
- Dinner: Som tam + air-fried cauliflower wings / teriyaki tempeh
- Snacks : Hot cocoa (almond milk)
Q. What is next for you as a vegan business owner?
A. “Many exciting things are coming. Please stay tuned…!”