Interview with Ray Hallare of Dowel Furniture

By Trish Fontanilla

 Image provided by Ray Hallare

Image provided by Ray Hallare

Last month I had a chance to catch up with an old friend of mine, Ray Hallare. Ray and I met about 6 years ago through MassChallenge, a global startup accelerator that’s headquartered here in Boston. We bonded over our love of startups, and at one point, I even suggested we start a Filipino food cart here in town. While that never came to fruition, we both did end up starting ventures with ties back to the Philippines. Check out the interview below to learn more about the business that sprung out of his family’s factory in the Philippines, his favorite things around Boston, and of course Filipino food.

Where are you from originally?
Pasig City, Manila, Philippines

And what do you do?
I am one of the co-founders of Dowel Furniture. We sell custom designer-created furniture online.

 Image provided by Ray Hallare / Dowel Furniture

Image provided by Ray Hallare / Dowel Furniture

What inspired you to start Dowel Furniture?
My family has been in the furniture manufacturing business my entire life and it's something that my sister, who's my business partner, and I grew up with. We felt that people have become more savvy about finding quality furniture online over the last couple of years and felt that this was a great opportunity. It was the right timing for us to build on top of our family's manufacturing expertise, and start a vertically integrated digital furniture brand.

 Image provided by Ray Hallare / Dowel Furniture

Image provided by Ray Hallare / Dowel Furniture

What's been your favorite, or one of your fave pieces of furniture that you've made?
One of my favorite pieces we've done so far from our designer created collections is probably the Parisienne Chair. I think it's a great take on a classic chair profile and can easily fit in a lot of rooms either as a dining chair or as a standalone accent piece.

 Image provided by Ray Hallare / Dowel Furniture

Image provided by Ray Hallare / Dowel Furniture

On Boston...
 

How long did you live in Boston?
I’ve been in NY for the last year, but I was in Boston for 10 years before I moved to NY. I also go back and forth to Manila every 3-4 months or so to check on production.

What are your favorite Boston spots? Could be restaurants / parks / anything!
Hmm... favorite spots are tough, haha. I'll break it down I guess:

  • Restaurant would be O Ya, which is probably a once in 5 year restaurant though because it's so expensive haha

  • Boston Common because I like walking through it, despite it being cliche

  • TD Garden mainly because I love watching Celtics games

 Image provided by Ray Hallare / Dowel Furniture

Image provided by Ray Hallare / Dowel Furniture

On Filipino food…
 

What's your all-time favorite Filipino dish?
It's probably a tie between kare kare with bagoong [a type of meat stew with shrimp paste] or lechon paksiw [a dish made with leftover roast pig]. I've always liked the day-after lechon made into paksiw better than day-of lechon.  

What's your favorite Filipino recipe / dish to make?
It’s probably adobo [the unofficial national dish of the Philippines] because of value for time. It takes awhile to make but not because it's hard to make. It's super simple and tastes great.  

How can people stay in touch with you?  
Through our website: www.dowel.furniture
Via email: ray@dowel.furniture
Or @hallarer on everything


You can also check out their showroom in NYC or at the Eliza B Design Studio in Concord.

Thanks for taking the time to chat, Ray!