Name: Annie Bradshaw

Nickname or Alias: Belle

Profession: Co-Owner, Martha’s Vineyard Tile Company

Washed ashore from: Medford, Mass.

Years ago: 22

Job in a former life: LancomeCosmetics Sales

Favorite spot on the Island: Quansoo

Favorite room in the house: Kitchen


When your husband, who has spent nearly every summer of his life on William Street in Vineyard Haven, announces he wants the family to move to the Island fulltime, what do you say?

Annie Bradshaw said yes!

So Annie, Jeremy, their two small boys and her disabled mother, moved to the place where Annie had enjoyed summers, too. And thanks to Annie’s creative and entrepreneurial spirit, her whole family has thrived. Together she and husband Jeremy created Martha’s Vineyard Tile Company in 1996. Twenty-one years later, they’re still at it.

Q: How did you happen to create MV Tile?

A: My mother had the largest ceramic supply company in New England (before she suffered a cerebral hemorrhage), so I grew up in the ceramics business. But I did it all the way from the clay through to the different glazes.

My first ceramics store on Church Street in Vineyard Haven was called Island Flair. In the first year, I made everything we sold there — place settings, cups, bowls, everything! With two small boys, 18 months apart, and a disabled mother, yes, I made every single thing sold in the store. I also carried a line of tile, and that tile really sold. People started asking me for more and I thought, hmm, I’ve got something here. We switched to all-tile the next year.

Q. But how?

A. I went to Bunch of Grapes bookstore and found a book on tile. It was filled with really cool stuff, and in the back was a list of every tile manufacturer and distributor included in the book. So one day, I just got on the phone. “Hi, I am opening up a tile store on Martha’s Vineyard, and I’m wondering if you would like to see your tile there?” Every single person said yes! And that’s how it began.

Q: And for Jeremy?

A: When I started the business Jeremy was painting and doing other labor work, and I said, “You know what? You need to start learning how to install tile. We can do this together.”

He went to Home Depot and got a video on installing tile and he just started slowly, working with contractors who walked him through it. Now he’s one of the best tile guys on the island.

Q: So it’s 21 years now. Ever tire of it?

A: I don’t tire of this (pointing to the showroom), but the back end, yeah—the bookkeeping, the invoicing, etc. I do get tired of that.

Q. What keeps you interested?

A. We get new things every day and things do change. I think if we dealt with the same lines and never took on new projects and new lines, that I would be bored out of my mind. But the new stuff keeps me entertained. Q. What would people be surprised to learn about this business? A. How detailed everything is. Everything has a number, everything comes in multiple sizes. You have 30 different vendors that each carry 300 lines. You need to know what goes with what. Does it come with a bullnose, or with a chair rail, a two-inch floor tile for the shower, or do we have to find another element for that?

Q. Who is your ideal client?

A. One who knows what he or she doesn’t like. Q. What gives you the greatest satisfaction? A. I think the most satisfaction is fulfilling my creativity. Growing up in the ceramic world, I was creating something every day. So this is my way of doing that without getting dirty! Paula Lyons is a former ABC and CBS television consumer journalist who is now semi-retired. She lives in Vineyard Haven