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Born to build

Local custom furniture business is a family affair

TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Brothers Dylan and Wesley Harkavy have been building thing for most of their lives, and they parlayed their talents into their own business, Harkavy Furniture, a year and a half ago.Dylan and Wesley Harkavy first discovered their shared gift in Tijuana, Mexico, when they still in grade school.

The brothers from West Linn made occasional trips south of the border with their father and other families on church missions to help build houses. The fathers taught the children the basics of construction, but it wasn’t long before Dylan and Wesley were leading instead of following.

“Year after year we’d do that, and every time it was more of us running it instead of the dads,” Wesley Harkavy said.

The brothers were natural builders, and those trips to Mexico marked the beginning of a journey that eventually led them to start their own custom-made furniture business, Harkavy Furniture, a year and a half ago. After debuting with an initial line of five pieces — including coffee tables and nightstands — Harkavy Furniture will soon add eight more items to its growing collection, and the brothers also do custom projects on occasion.

“It’s been awesome overall,” 21-year-old Wesley Harkavy said. “Just learning not only how to do this stuff, where we are learning how to build more, but also how to run a business — a whole other game I never knew anything about.”

Growing up, the brothers dabbled in just about every form of craftsmanship before eventually settling on furniture. After the early years of helping build houses, they decided to branch into crafting their own longboards.

“We were super into longboarding, so we were like, ‘If we can build houses and stuff, we should start building our own longboards, because they’re expensive,’” Wesley Harkavy said.

TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - The Harkavy brothers got their start building houses in Mexico through a church mission, and quickly found that craftsmanship came naturally to them.

Both Dylan and Wesley worked various construction jobs in junior high and high school, and after high school they shifted into various artistic pursuits. Dylan Harkavy worked as a freelance photographer in the Portland area, while Wesley gravitated to interior design and started taking classes at Portland Community College.

“We were both suckers for design,” 24-year-old Dylan Harkavy said. “I fell in love with painting and photography.”

The brothers made their first foray into the furniture world while Wesley Harkavy was still in school, and he quickly realized that he didn’t need any more classes to tell him what to do with his life.

“I was like, ‘I don’t really want to be going to school, taking time out when we could be doing this,’” Wesley Harkavy said.

Indeed, the brothers found that designing and constructing their own furniture was a perfect blend of everything they were most passionate about.

“It was interior design, architecture, fine arts, all that stuff,” Wesley Harkavy said. “It was a super good way of mixing our design backgrounds and construction, and just making stuff.

“We like to create.”

And it didn’t hurt that they got to hang out with each other for about 10 hours every day, working out of a design shop next to their home in the Stafford area.

Not that there weren’t challenges. Despite all of their combined experience, the brothers didn’t know how to weld before starting the businesses, and had to teach themselves in order to begin making furniture.

“We went out and bought a welder, and within a week we learned how to weld,” Wesley Harkavy said. “If we want to figure out how to do something, for the most part we can figure it out ourselves.”

Perhaps more troublesome was the bookkeeping that came with running their own show.

“It’s been a good way to just learn how to actually run (a business), instead of just building things and being behind the scenes,” Wesley Harkavy said.

Moving forward, the brothers hope to continue to expand their collection and, one day, open up their own studio.

“That’ll be ideal, to have a showroom somewhere downtown,” Dylan Harkavy said.

Take a peek

To learn more or see what the Harkavys are up to, visit harkavyfurniture.com.

Patrick Malee can be reached at 503-636-1281 Ext. 106 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..