Sister Act Guides New Tile Showroom:
Hingham business open since October
By Diana Schoberg
The Patriot Ledger, January 10, 2005

One phone call changed their lives. Julie Ryan and Kristin Henaghan got a call on Oct. 16, 2003, from the owner of the tile showroom in Boston where they both worked. He told them he was closing the business.

A month later, the two sisters incorporated their own company, Classic Tile & Stone. And just about a year to the day after that fateful phone call, Ryan, 42, of Weymouth and Henaghan, 38, of Whitman held the grand opening of their Hingham tile showroom.

‘‘We took something awful and turned it into something great,'' Henaghan said.

The showroom is a mosaic of colors and textures. Samples of tiny glass tiles in colors from iridescent blues and purples to translucent reds pepper the walls. Tiles of copper with a patina finish, stainless steel and recycled windshield glass join slate, marble, limestone and onyx tiles among the sample patterns on the walls.

Customers see nearly 50 different floor installations as they walk in. A fireplace of blue and white Delft tile from the Netherlands stands near the entryway.

‘‘We tried to give it almost a gallery feel,'' Henaghan said.

Ryan and Henaghan said the open design and variety of examples make their showroom unique and more accessible to customers. They tell customers to wander through the store to find the colors or patterns that catch their eye. Then the two design consultants will help customers see how their choices can work in their home.

Many of their customers stuck with them when their former employer closed. Now, with their new store at busy Queen Anne's Corner, they've received many walk-in and new customers by word of mouth. The showroom is in a stretch of shops along Route 53, a mile from the new Derby Street Shoppes retail complex and four miles from the Hanover Mall.

Ryan and Henaghan bring to their business a combined 29 years of tile, stone and design experience. Ryan spent 17 years at her previous job at a tile store in the Boston Design Center, while Henaghan was at the same location for 10 years after a career change from her position as a domestic violence advocate in the Norfolk district attorney's office.

There's no sibling rivalry; they say they split the work evenly. Henaghan is the operations person while Ryan is strong on design.

‘‘For me, why work for somebody else again?'' Henaghan said. ‘‘Why put our heart and soul into something and have (it) pulled out from underneath?''

Ryan agreed: ‘‘It was time to do it for ourselves.''

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