Sasin’s MBA Alumna Transforms Klong Toey with The Fig Lobby Hotel: A Unique Creative Space

07 Aug 2023
A bright, colorful, whimsical hotel stands in Klong Toey, an impoverished area in Bangkok. Chalisa “Ploy” Teinpothong, a member of Sasin MBA Class of 2016, is the Founder and the Managing Director of The Fig Lobby. With a collaborative art space in the swanky hotel, she hopes to build an artistic community where people can exchange creative ideas. “For anyone who likes experiential travel, arts and crafts, and designs— we see ourselves not just as a hotel, but a creative, open space for people to exhibit their ideas, join forces, and create partnerships,” she said. Before embarking on her MBA journey at Sasin School of Management, Chalisa studied in Europe, where she often frequented art exhibitions and museums and met many creative individuals. Her experiences in Europe, combined with the vibrant colors she saw at Klong Toey, sparked an idea of using art and bold colors on the interior and external walls of The Fig Lobby. “I got a lot of inspiration from that, and I am always drawn to colors. I feel like colors really spark a lot of emotion in you,” she said. Throughout their programs, Sasin students are instilled with the concept of sustainability through an entrepreneurial mindset, and this is a focus Chalisa has carried through to her career as a businesswoman. She established the core values of The Fig Lobby, which is to nurture a business and arts community, fostering inclusivity and sustainability. “We really take time when we pick our ambassadors, partners, or staff. Their values and mindset have to align with our core business values as well,” said Chalisa, adding that working with people with a positive mindset makes the space creative, open, and safe for individuals.

“Sasin has broadened my perspective in the business world, from finance to accounting to business values, and gave me a well-rounded support system and platform. Also, the connections that I made at Sasin or after—they have a very strong alumni and support system.” — Chalisa Teinpothong, Founder & Managing Director of The Fig Lobby, Bangkok

Chalisa also advocates for inclusivity, nurturing individuals, and promoting equality. The hotel is also pet-friendly, so you often see customers with their pets sitting around the hotel. With this open environment, Chalisa also hopes to create a comfortable and safe space for the people of Klong Toey to showcase their houses, homes, and products. “Local people see Klong Toey as a slum area – an unsafe area. But there’s a lot of untold stories, a lot of arts and crafts, a lot of beautiful and friendly people around this community,” she said. Chalisa believes there are a number of vital qualities that entrepreneurs must have. She feels that critical thinking or creative thinking is the most important of these. A strong brand identity is also crucial, not just for the company but for the entrepreneur, and making decisions using critical thinking during strategic planning. Another essential quality of an entrepreneur is leadership and teamwork. With the energy and effort required of everyone in her team, having clear communications and instilling a sense of belonging through empathy creates a safe culture for employees to be themselves. Finally, Chalisa notes that entrepreneurs really need to have an entrepreneurial mindset. “To be able to motivate yourself and all the people around you to have a positive growth mindset, to always to want to learn, and to strive to be better every day, are all key,” said Chalisa. Studying at Sasin School of Management has broadened her perspective from having a passion for arts and hospitality to being a savvy businesswoman with knowledge of finance, accounting, and business values. “Sasin has broadened my perspective in the business world, from finance to accounting to business values, and gave me a well-rounded support system and platform. Also, the connections that I made at Sasin and after— they have a very strong alumni and support system,” she said. Chalisa embodies the spirit of positive, impactful change encouraged by her time at Sasin. Her ongoing, transformative project at The Fig Lobby is breathing life and creativity into Klong Toey, opening a fresh space that embraces diversity and promotes an open, safe environment for all.  
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