Though woodworking has long been a passion for the 24-year-old Newport Beach resident (he loved furniture stores as a child), he has never taken a class or been an apprentice. After years of working odd jobs—building fences, gates, and the occasional outdoor table—Heasley taught himself the finer points of furniture design.
“I just looked at pieces I liked and sort of worked out how they were made,” he says.
Two years ago, Heasley applied for a business license, quit his part-time restaurant jobs, and rented his own workshop. Today he mostly does custom orders, though he also sells pieces through his website and at 503 Found in Newport Beach. And you can see his work at a few local restaurants, including Bear Flag Fish Co., Alta Coffee, and Wild Taco.
While he cuts, joins, sands, and finishes each piece by hand, Heasley’s heart is in designing.
“I have so many ideas,” he says. “I even have designs for whole restaurants. Maybe someday I’ll open one and design it myself.”
Heasley draws inspiration from tree stumps or logs. He also has been influenced by the late master furniture makers and woodworkers George Nakashima and Sam Maloof. But it’s difficult to find time to sketch designs when he’s working on orders, so Heasley hopes to hire an apprentice soon. And perhaps an office manager.
“The business side has always been difficult,” he says. “It’s hard for me to charge an appropriate amount for my work. I’m always giving things away as gifts.”