Barrels and bureaus
Local surfers return from Indonesia to launch Hunt & Lane Furniture Co.
Local surfers/entrepreneurs Jon Lane and Taber Hunt Bartoshesky originally set off for Indonesia thinking about one thing: waves.
However, after separate stints in one of the most consistent surf spots in the world, they each formed a new appreciation for a foreign culture — specifically, its hand-carved, aged teakwood furniture.
“It’s people that have been doing it for generations — their style of furniture is completely unique,” said Lane. “I have a complete new respect for woodworking after taking that trip. Everything is hand-carved, hand-chiseled out — most of this stuff is reclaimed, so this wood has history to it.”
On their most recent trip, Lane estimated that they shipped back around 100 pieces of furniture. From teakwood bed frames, Java benches, tables and dining sets to hand-carved teak sculptures and hand-chiseled marble chess sets — it was all meticulously selected by Lane and Bartoshesky and selected for a reason.
“We were very careful about the pieces we bought,” Lane said of the process. “We had wood testing meters, tested everything we bought, went to reliable sources through our connections — you can’t really find old teak anymore. It gets harder and harder to find every year, so we definitely paid more of a premium price for the quality stuff, but it’s definitely worth it. It really is one of a kind.”
“When you do a painting or a sculpture, no one piece of art is the same exact — something separates them,” Bartoshesky added of the unique quality of the furniture. “Each one is its own piece. We could have them make us another table just like this — but it’s not gonna be the exact same.”
While the venture has seen early success with sales to various businesses around town, for both commercial and personal use, one of the most unique pieces they encountered in their travels wasn’t purchased by a customer. It was donated — just because they thought it was perfect for one of their favorite establishments.
“We saw it in this one warehouse, and I was like, ‘Man, that just screams ‘The Barn,’” said Bartoshesky of the antique solid teak wagon wheel from an old Dutch wagon found during their travels, which now hangs at Barn 34 in Ocean City, Md. “They’re good friends of ours, and we just wanted to bring it back. And now it’s hanging on their wall — they’re stoked, for sure.”
Both Bartoshesky and Lane have backgrounds in carpentry, an appreciation and understanding of art, and a history of travel, so their new business venture almost seems inevitable. However, according to them, it kind of just worked out.
“My first trip back in 2011 — I finished up college and came back here, worked all summer, saved up money and went to Indo,” Bartoshesky recalled. “It was mainly just a surf trip, but I ended up breaking my arm in a motorbike accident, so I was out of commission for like a month. I basically just sat there and watched the waves, and I was going mad.”
At the time, the injured traveler was staying at a hotel run by a Canadian who had spent 20 years making a living shipping Indonesian furniture back to Canada. The hotel bar was being remodeled with similar furniture and pieces, and after inquiring about it, Bartoshesky asked if he could see where it was made.
“I kind of pulled some strings, got everything I had together, and asked this guy to take me into the jungle and show me where he gets the furniture,” Bartoshesky went on. “He speaks fluent Indonesian, but his brother-in-law is from the village where they make all this stuff, so he speaks the local dialect. I went with him and his wife and brother-in-law and his son. They basically took me under their wing as one of their family members and brought me out to see all this stuff.”
It wasn’t until a couple of years later that Lane first traveled to Indonesia, where he, too, developed an appreciation for the one-of-a-kind furniture.
“I went last year, and I saw all the furniture,” Lane said of his original trip. “I had been a carpenter before, and I was pretty into it, so I knew I was going back. I knew Taber had done it before, and I had thought about doing it when I was out there, so I was like, ‘Taber — we gotta do this.’”
“I kind of had a good connection. It sort of just worked out,” Bartoshesky said, putting it all into perspective. “I’ve been other places traveling before and seen this stuff, and I’ve always thought, ‘Oh I want to bring some stuff back’ — so I just did it.”
After returning home last month, the furniture entrepreneurs launched Hunt & Lane Furniture, which they now operate out of a local warehouse. But they will be moving to a more permanent location in Maryland, en route to Assateague Island, in a few weeks.
Just starting out, they said, even though some of their furniture could be selling in larger markets, such as New York, for substantially higher prices, all their furniture is priced to sell, and their only goal is to make enough money to be able to go back and do it all over again next winter.
“Our goal is to make enough money to go back and do it again and pay for our trip,” said Lane. “We have some really well-priced pieces. All our stuff, since we’re just starting out — it’s all priced to sell.”
“We look around at our competitors, but, really, there’s no competitors — nobody has stuff like this,” Bartoshesky added.
To see available pieces from Hunt & Lane, or photos and videos of their travels and the teak furniture-making process, or to contact either Jon Lane or Taber Bartoshesky, go to www.huntandlane.com. You can also find them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/huntandlane or Instagram, @huntandlane.