After spending 11 years in the Land of the Hornbills, Mohd Fauiza Mat Rifin, a General Operations Force (PGA) personnel always craves the delightful flavour of Sarawak layer cake upon returning to the Peninsula.
This has led the 37-year-old who hails from Kampung Jalan Atas Paloh here, to persuade and nudge his 32-year-old wife, Siti Nordiana Daud, who is from Samariang, Kuching, to start a small layer cake business out of their home at the quarters in Pengkalan Chepa.
Five years later, across the South China Sea, the ‘Rasa Lapis’ brand of layer cakes by Siti Nordiana is gaining more recognition. This success story started with a longing and a desire to share the joy of this famous Sarawakian treat with more Malaysians.
“In 2019, we started running the business with a capital of RM300 borrowed from my mother. My wife had prior experience assisting her aunt in making layer cakes in Kuching, which made it easier.
“At the beginning, we only made and sold them, taking orders from our co-workers. Additionally, on Fridays and Saturdays, we would set up a sales booth near a supermarket in Lembah Sireh,” said Mohd Fauiza to Bernama during a recent visit to his premises on Jalan Atas Banggol here.
Unfazed by the labour-intensive cake layering process, the husband and wife team managed to grow their business to a point where they could lease a larger space on Jalan Atas Banggol in 2020 to expand their enterprise.
Siti Nordiana, affectionately known as Nana, said they originally aimed to bring the tradition of serving layer cakes during festivals, similar to Sarawak, to the Peninsula. It’s now gaining popularity with increasing demand.
“When I started my business, I made around 20 types of layer cakes. Now, I offer 29 varieties, including sweet and sour, mossy, shrimp paste, and watermelon layer cakes.
“I have two workers assisting me daily, and we can produce eight trays of layer cakes, with each tray taking approximately two hours to prepare. Each tray yields about 10 cakes, which we sell for between RM15 to RM20 each,” she said.
According to Nana, ‘Rasa Lapis’ layer cakes has received great response from customers, with strong demand through e-commerce platforms, social media, and physical stores.
Additionally, she has expanded to include over 40 agents across the peninsula.
“Most agents are grateful because they can now get layer cake stocks from the peninsula without having to wait or order from Sarawak anymore.
“More importantly, even though the layer cakes are produced here, the original recipe is from Sarawak, and the person who makes them is also a Sarawakian. I feel proud to introduce layer cakes to people here in the peninsula,” she added.
Mohd Fauiza revealed that among some of the initial challenges they faced included the layer cake not satisfying the taste preferences of Kelantanese people.
“We listened attentively to our customers’ feedback and made the necessary adjustments. For instance, based on the preferences of Kelantanese people, they mentioned that the previous batch of layer cakes were not sweet enough,” he said.
With the success and sales of the layer cakes, Mohd Fauiza has added various Sarawak products for their customers, including gula apong (nipah palm sugar), corned beef, Sarawak laksa paste, Sarawak laksa chili paste, and dried kolo noodles.