(Julie Hakala (left) and Janet Powers with Milo | Photo by Ronni Wilde)
Julie Hakala and Janet Powers are kindred-spirited twin sisters who have used their collective experiences growing up in the Colorado hotel industry to create a distinctive interior siding and accent wall business in Bend. After living apart for 25 years — with Powers living in Colorado and Hakala in Bend — circumstances aligned, and Powers moved here in 2019 to join her sister.
“Our business, Blended, was started in October of 2019 in Janet’s garage,” says Hakala. “We make interior metal and wood accent walls for the customer who is looking for something unique.” With many reclaimed barnwood companies in existence, the sisters say they wanted to create something more modern and clean-looking for the interior of homes. After years of working separately in the rustic wood industry, Hakala and Powers decided to merge what they were doing here in Bend and in Colorado, and Blended was born.
“We decided to take siding to a new level: smooth surfaces with the option of a metallic blend for a more modern look,” says Powers. “Our 17 colors of wood and five options for metal inserts allow customization of any design you can dream of.” The women make all orders by hand, with no machinery involved at all, and say that they believe in keeping it local by sourcing their materials through Bend companies. Each color blend is named after a place of adventure in Central Oregon: Creamy white is called the Mt. Bachelor blend, green planks are called the Green Lakes blend and a mix of gray, brown and black planks are called the Deschutes River blend.
“Our kiln-dried pine wood planks provide a balance of rustic and modern style with varied grain patterns and a smooth, clean finish,” the sisters explain. Wood planks come in four-, six- and eight-foot lengths and are three-quarters of an inch thick. “Our square-edge profile allows for versatility and ease in application. It can be used for more than just interior siding; you can create shelves, furniture and other DIY crafts.”
Square and rectangle tiles are also available that are one-quarter-inch thick and come in a variety of colors and patterns that can be used in combination with the wood planks and metal inserts. “We’ve taken design a step further by offering custom metal inserts and planks in five different metallic finishes. Every client’s vision is unique. Our metal accents can be added to create endless combinations for your project.”
Following their launch in 2019, Blended grew quickly, and the sisters opened a showroom in Bend located at 900 SE Wilson Avenue, Suite E, in January of this year. Unfortunately, COVID hit shortly after they opened, so the industrious women used the time to expand their product offerings, enlarge the size of the showroom and erect more display walls.
The front portion of the showroom is the “DIY Design Walls,” where customers can come in and get creative. “Clients can mix and match and create their own designs and color combinations on the magnetic walls,” says Powers. For customers who desire a little help, the sisters offer free design consultations online or by appointment. Powers says there are three elements to consider: wood, either in planks or tiles; metal, in either 1-inch inserts or planks; and the option to add a subtle metallic finish to the wood. “With 17 color options for the wood and five color options for the metal, the design possibilities are endless,” she says.
“We grew up in the hotel business. It was ingrained in us that customer service is the key to good business,” says Hakala. “We want happy customers; customer satisfaction is our top priority.” For Hakala and Powers, working together is a dream come true, and for them, family ties are huge. Their young adult and teen children help with marketing and social media for Blended, and one of their three other sisters, Sarah Lickfett, sells their products in Reno, Nevada. Even the family dog, Milo, gets in on the action by greeting customers at the showroom.
“We love every minute of working together. We are best friends,” says Powers. “The fact that we are able to be together all day every day is such a blessing. It doesn’t feel like work. We were apart for 25 years, so we are thankful to be together again.”
Moving forward, the sisters say they hope to grow the business by increasing awareness about Blended, and to continue to meet and exceed the needs of their clients. “We enjoy building strong relationships and partnerships with the talented builders, designers and architects in Deschutes County,” says Hakala. “That’s our greatest challenge: awareness. Just letting people know about us. Current clients run the gamut: Pahlisch Homes has used the Blended designs in model homes throughout Washington and Oregon, and businesses such as State Farm have used the designs inside their offices. Brian’s Cabinets in Bend used Blended materials in the office restrooms. For customers who do not want to do their own installations, Sierra James construction offers installation services. “It’s not just builders and designers using our products, it’s homeowners too,” says Powers. “We sell nationwide off the website; people can order from anywhere.” So far, the sisters have clients in Oregon, California, Nevada, Colorado and on the East Coast.
Despite the hand-made nature of the Blended products, Hakala and Powers offer short lead times of two to four weeks. “If someone wanted something by Christmas, we could do it,” they say. Despite the bump in the road that the pandemic brought, the sisters say they are thankful that Blended has grown, and they have a sign hanging in their showroom that reads “DV” which stands for “Deo Volente,” meaning “God Willing.” Hakala and Powers say those are the words they live by, and their business cards have a tiny “DV” imprinted on the bottom right corner as a reminder. “We have grown,” says Hakala. “We feel blessed that we were able to use the COVID time to increase our products and hear what our customers want. We have COVID safety measures in place at our showroom, so give us a call, we are excited to meet you.”
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