Interview with Lombok's Co-founder
This month, we’re celebrating Lombok’s 20th anniversary. First established in 1998, Lombok has had a huge amount of success; from growing a loyal customer base to creating a signature Indonesian look to designing staple furniture pieces.
Now under new management, Lombok is embarking on an ambitious journey to re-energise an iconic and well established brand with so much history, heritage and a story to tell like no other.
To help tell that story, we had the honour of sitting down with the original co-founder, Sarah Morison, to listen to how Lombok, the furniture brand, came about.
How did it all begin?
“It all started in May 1998 when a good friend of mine from University, Alex Creswell-Turner, persuaded me to visit him in Java, Indonesia.
Alex had been living in Jakarta as a Trader for Flemings Bank when the Indonesian Crash came suddenly. Rather than simply move back to a bank job in the City, Alex was determined to create something himself. At the time, I was working in PR and Marketing for a Live Events agency in London – he wanted me to see the opportunity in Indonesia for myself.
It was love at first sight! The country, the people, the furniture, the opportunity.
I came home and resigned from my job – and with a total of £10,000 savings each we set up Lombok Ltd, using the more remote Indonesian island as our name. It felt like an exclusive, little known, but much admired destination.
We bought three containers from suppliers that Alex knew and trusted, having lived there, and only then did we worry about where we were going to sell them from. We both had a very similar vision: to create an inspirational space customers could visit, fall in love with the furniture, the interiors and way it was presented - just as I had done on that first visit.
From the outset, customer service was central to everything, we wanted the furniture to be delivered as soon as possible, at a time that suited, by charming guys who would assemble it for you – all of this was unheard of at the time!
A little bit of info on your co-founder Alex?
Alex was the life and soul of every party, had a huge imagination and could charm anyone. He is one of life’s infectious people, a maverick in some ways, a visionary but incredibly loyal, huge fun and the absolute perfect business partner. From day one, everything was 50:50 between us, we split the roles that played to our strengths. He was from a financial background, so took on more of the operational side, whilst I adored brand, design, marketing and the people side of the business.
We came together for the product side, we had such similar taste and style that from the outset we would totally trust each other’s gut instinct and judgement on buying trips.
He is now currently living in Cape Town with his lovely wife Jann from South Africa and their 16 year old triplet girls. We remain great friends and are godparents to each other’s children.
What are your thoughts on the 'new Lombok'?
From the moment I stepped into the “new” store with full length glass windows (something we never had the money to do during my time!), the bare brick walls and warm greetings from the staff, I could feel an energy and love was back in the business. The shop looked cared for again - and when I met the three new owners, their enthusiasm confirmed that indeed Lombok was back on track. It’s evolved away from the more colonial style we had created and into a more contemporary, yet still tactile, beautifully presented brand. Now Victoria (current Showroom Manager and original staff member) is back on board, I know that the same values will be reflected in the way the shop is run and presented, she epitomises natural style!”
The story of Lombok is inspiring and reminds us all at Lombok HQ of the brand’s longevity, impact and heritage.