Founder of dobiQueen Nini Tan is an advocate of women’s mental well-being and self-care

It is the only launderette chain in Malaysia that offers a fully in-house operated service complete with branded detergents.

Tan says dobiQueen is committed to providing career opportunities for the B40 community (All photos: Suhaimi Yusuf/The Edge)

When it comes to household chores, laundry has to be one of the most tedious things to do. From sorting fabric types and colours, to manually hanging up each piece of clothing to dry (if you do not have the luxury of a dryer, that is), a full load can take hours to complete. What many have yet to consider is the help of launderettes that can effectively take care of this task, allowing us to have more time for ourselves and our families.

Luckily for Malaysians, local chain dobiQueen does just that. Founded by executive director Nini Tan, it is the only launderette chain in Malaysia that offers a fully in-house operated service complete with branded detergents. Tan’s passion stems from her own experience as a child in a dual-income home.

“My mum was a working mother,” she says. “She would leave early for work and when she came home, she still had to deal with household chores. By the end of the day, she would be quite tired and my siblings and I would have less time to play with her.”

Tan observed this loss of bonding time with her loved ones yet again in her adult years. In her former career in fast-moving consumer goods, she only had the time to complete chores after work or on weekends.

“That was when I understood how time just flies by,” she comments.

For most working single and married individuals, as well as helper-less families, coming home to a list of things to do after a long day can be a significant mood dampener. After all, as Tan says, “It’s even more work”.


dobiQueen is the only launderette chain in Malaysia that offers a fully in-house operated service complete with branded detergents

Additionally, working mothers who take on the brunt of domestic labour often go unappreciated by others. Over time, this leads to mental and physical burnout and even feelings of resentment that can impact household harmony.

Launderettes are not a rarity by any means. However, dobiQueen is built upon the idea of “giving time back to working individuals and homemakers” who struggle to balance the burden of housework with self-care. Furthermore, the company focuses on providing an elevated and seamless service for customers, with each detail carefully thought out based on Tan’s own experience of using self-service launderettes.

“I didn’t like having to run back and transfer everything from the washer into the dryer myself before returning to where I was having lunch with friends,” she recalls. This manual task also narrowed down where and when she could meet loved ones. Needing to bring her own preferred detergents from home was troublesome too as the bottles sometimes tipped over and spilled in the car, which meant more cleaning up.

Noticing this, she started dobiQueen with the intention of “raising the bar and effectively removing laundry from the household chore list”. At each outlet, workers oversee the washing and drying of your clothes and also fold and pack each batch for easy pick-up. Another attractive feature is its use of Downy detergent and softener, a Malaysian favourite for its quality perfumed range.

Bringing this vision to life was challenging, especially as the company began to grow rapidly. Opening an average of 20 new outlets each year — there are currently 82 across Kuala Lumpur and Selangor alone — Tan had to ensure employees, particularly her managerial and core leadership team (who are mostly women), received adequate training and support.

An even tougher task was effectively conveying dobiQueen’s self-love objectives to its consumer base.

“Many of them, especially young mothers, are not aware that when they care for their loved ones and forget about themselves, it affects their emotional and mental state and this, in turn, will have an effect on those around them.”

Tan says dobiQueen is committed to providing career opportunities for the B40 community, many of whom are single mothers and are both sole breadwinners and homemakers.

“We encourage them to join us. Vacancies are always open. We let them know there is career progression within the company, and we invest in neurolinguistic programming training so they are more equipped to communicate effectively in their jobs.”


Brightly coloured, each outlet features the company logo, Queenie, representing the women who tirelessly care for their homes

The company frequently collaborates with local non-governmental organisations during festive seasons. Most recently, its Hari Raya gift packs were created with the help of Komuniti Tukang Jahit, a social enterprise empowering women through the art of sewing. dobiQueen’s consumer base comprises two main groups — full-time employees who frequent the launderettes after hours or on weekends, as well as homemakers who swing by as part of their morning routines.

In a surprising twist, Tan notes that about 25% of users are husbands helping out their wives.

“Usually, the wives are already familiar with the process,” she laughs. “They tell their husbands, ‘It’s very easy: All you have to do is take the clothes there, scan the QR code on the machine to activate it, go have your teh tarik and then bring it back’.”

During the pandemic, prolonged quarantines resulted in strained familial relationships, particularly for those who faced difficult times living under the same roof and had different methods and expectations on how to collectively care for the home. On the other hand, many who were separated from friends and family emerged from lockdowns with a heightened priority for quality time.

With its streamlined services that allow one to drop off their laundry at the outlet and retrieve it an hour later, freshly washed and folded, dobiQueen offers relief to those shouldering the burden of domestic labour while also freeing up their time to reconnect with loved ones and pursue personal interests.

In all of her efforts, Tan aims to reach those she would see her own mother in — the women who toil day and night balancing work, cleaning, cooking and raising a family, only to be left with little to no energy for themselves. Her thoughtful enterprise reminds one that caring for others need not come at the expense of our own wellbeing and that with a little (extra) help, life can be that much more enjoyable and fulfilling.

“The vision I had when establishing dobiQueen was to see more families laughing at home,” Tan says. “I wanted people to come back from work and find rest instead of feeling the burden of having to work even more.”

This article first appeared on Apr 8, 2024 in The Edge Malaysia.


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