A Tree House in an urban jungle
To bring a piece of the bar culture in Melbourne, Australia to Indonesia.
Tree House is a popular bar and art space in Jakarta that fills a gap in the market for independent and creative spaces. Founder, Anton Massoni studied in Australia returned to his hometown of 10.2 million people ready to make his mark.
So, why Tree House and why Jakarta?
There were several motives influencing my decision to open Tree House. Firstly, I had identified a lack of creative space in Jakarta, and wanted to make a bar whose focus was on Jakarta's young, artistic community, who, until the beginning of Tree House, did not have a free art space for up-and-coming artists and creative individuals to express themselves, and have the opportunity to make an exhibition of their work. My inherent interest and fascination with street and "low-brow" art pushed me to create a space where I could contribute and give a platform to the new generation of creative individuals in Jakarta.
Further to this, I realized there was a large gap in Jakarta's market for small, independently owned, concept-bars - which appeared to be so ubiquitous in Melbourne. Bars that not only looked different and were smaller, but played music not heard on local radio or popular nightclubs and restaurants. I took a chance in bringing a piece of overseas, urban bar culture that I was passionate about to Indonesian shores.
Is Tree House your first project?
I had always envisioned myself running my own business at some point. It was always a dream of mine to one day own and run a restaurant. But to be honest, this was a bit of a dive into the proverbial deep end. I was employed in hotels for two years subsequent to my graduation from hotel school, but never had any experience starting my own project. The majority of the knowledge I applied came through observing other businesses and how they were being operated.
The opportunity to open Tree House came up almost out of necessity, as a series of circumstances lead to my permanent return to Jakarta. It was at that point, that I decided to take a chance at realizing my dream earlier than I had envisioned - I always figured I'd be in my 30's before entering the world of entrepreneurship. However, instead of a restaurant - which, at the time, I didn't have the confidence to operate - I thought a bar might be a somewhat easier point of entry to the world of F&B entrepreneurship. I didn't have any networks as such before starting the business. I cultivated them almost organically after the business was up and running.
What have you learned in the process of opening and running Tree House?
One of the key lessons I've learned is that taking your time to perfect a business and make sure it's the best it can possibly be before launching is a wise move. Rather than being concerned about meeting the bottom line and racing to cover all those initial, outgoing costs, why not delay the launch? It may mean you'll have a better product and make a more positive first-impression on people?
I've also learned that being nice to people is not a marketing plan; It pays to reach out to customers, communities, and other businesses and help them out in a genuine way, without expecting anything in return. It yields its own rewards with both a sense of self-fulfilment, and in a strange, almost karmic way, those positive gestures come back around.
So, what next?
I'd like to continue making Tree House a destination for good conversation, a place for like-minded individuals to congregate, and to help push the local art scene forward with new exhibitions and fun, alternative music events.
I'd also like to set up a website where prints from previous art exhibitions are made available for purchase to overseas customers who may not have the opportunity to travel out here, so maybe they can feel like a part of the Tree House family.