Sisters At Work

by Anna Wright

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Kathy Wissink

If you’re looking for furniture in Grand Rapids, you’re likely to come across a multitude of options, especially if you’re trying to find antiques or traditional styles. For fans of modern and contemporary designs, one bright, spacious store on Plainfield Avenue has everything you could need.

Owned by sisters Kathy Wissink and Karen Kloostra, Stone’s Throw (formerly Huizen’s Furniture) hosts four in-house interior designers, and places a huge emphasis on individuality. The pair is the fourth generation to own the store, and the Huizen legacy lives on through their management.

“Even though our dad encouraged us all to do our own thing, Kathy and I both ended up here,” Kloostra said.

The showroom is packed with a mixture of clean, architectural designs, nature-inspired pieces, and brightly-colored non-traditional pieces. However, it wasn’t always so. Once their father retired, the sisters completely re-created the store with a more free-spirited approach to furniture in mind.

“Our skill-sets work perfectly together, and because of that we rarely get under each others skin.”

“It was really traditional before,” Wissink explained, “But Karen and I combined our visions to create what you see today, which took about seven years from start to finish.”

“When my dad and uncle owned the store, they weren’t as big on the conceptual element,” Kloostra said. “I became the first [interior] designer on staff when control of the store passed to my sister and I.”

The store was a natural fit for Kloostra, given her interior design degree, and for analytical Wissink as well, who studied and taught accounting at Davenport University.

Being sisters, mothers and successful female business owners, they face a lot of the same challenges.

“Juggling the responsibilities of owning a business and running a household is a challenge”, Kloostra explained.

Kloostra has children in middle and high school, while Wissink’s older children provide a bit of relief.

“It definitely takes lots of work to keep home and business balanced,” Wissink said. “It’s so easy to let things swing one way or the other if you’re not careful.”

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Karen Kloostra

Luckily, working together seems to be interesting, and even fun, for the Huizen sisters.

“Kathy is only two years older than me, and as adults we’ve gotten really, really close,” Kloostra said. “Having a sister close to you in age is like having a built-in best friend.”

While the two enjoy each other’s company, they only work together on Mondays, alternating days the rest of the week.

“We have different gifts,” Kloostra explained, “She is the business-minded, detail-oriented one, and I am the right-brained one.”

“It’s perfect because if something comes across my desk that I don’t think I’m suited to handle, I can give it over to her, and vice-versa,” Wissink said, smiling in agreement. “Our skill-sets work perfectly together, and because of that we rarely get under each others skin.”

As for their relationship outside of work, the sisters love to travel together, but prefer long weekends instead of lengthy vacations.

“Two to three days of us both being away from the store is enough,” Kloostra said. “We’re so hands-on that situations requiring an owner’s input come up a lot.”

Additionally, every Sunday is an opportunity for quality time.

“We really make the most of them,” Wissink said with a twinkle in her eye. “Sundays are a huge day for our whole family to get together. Cousins, sisters, grandparents, everything.”

Wissink offers this advice for future business partners (sisters or not): be realistic, positive, and look for areas in which you compliment each other. “The most important advice of all”, she tells, “is to be honest”.

Stones Throw Furniture is open Monday through Saturday and is located at 1428 Plainfield Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505.

For hours and more information, call (616) 459-4167, or visit http://www.stonesthrowliving.com/about_us.php

 


Photograph of Anna Wright, Women's LifeStyle Magazine writer

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Anna Wright is a budding writer, yoga and music enthusiast. With a deep interest in culture of all kinds, she loves all things art, nature, and travel. She’s also obsessed with small, fluffy dogs.

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