Conversation with Jessie Williams
"This one is a little uncomfortable for me to talk about because it has been one of my biggest obstacles as a business owner."
Edge of Urge is a store to some, and a launch pad to others. From supporting local creators, makers, and vendors, to providing a safe space for curious and creative employees to foster their talents and later spread their wings, Jessie Williams' heart and soul runs deep and true through the walls of her locations. She's, personally, a great friend, an inspiration, and a pro-level good-time-haver!
Name: Jessie Williams
Business Name: Edge of Urge
Give us your best elevator pitch about your EOU:
Edge of Urge is not your average retail experience. It’s a place to discover new and thought provoking products and ideas. An escape from the world while actively participating in creating a better one.
Now, explain it to us like your best friend:
A nest of our favorite things. Mostly independent design with some fun larger brands sprinkled throughout. It’s important to me to be able to offer a variety of price points. I mean…I want REAL PEOPLE to be able to shop here. It’s WILD! It’s FUN! It’s a little naughty at times too! Lots of fun apparel, gifts, books, wellness and self care products, greeting cards galore, games and goodies for the littles!!!!
Who’s your ideal EOU risk-taking shopper?
Adventure seeker for sure! Someone who is fueled by curiosity and cares how and where their hard earned money is spent. Sense of humor is a must! While we are not a politically focused business, it is very important to us to use our platform for what we feel, in our hearts, is good and we hope our customers feel the same. We try to share our thoughts and feelings on real life issues we hold near and dear to our heart and have zero tolerance for bullies. As much as I dream of being a minimalist, I am a maximalist at heart so you need to love the thrill of the hunt!
What do you believe makes you a good match for them?
We listen and respond accordingly. We are able to adapt to our customers needs without compromising our aesthetic truth and ethics.
Edge of Urge just celebrated its 18th birthday, and can register to vote just in time for November elections! If EOU could actually vote, what issues would it fight for?
EQUAL RIGHTS! Oh… How about LET’S SAVE OUR PLANET! Women should be able to choose what they do with their bodies. PAY OUR TEACHERS MORE! Better education! PAY OUR ESSENTIAL WORKERS MORE! Affordable health care! Installation of an EJECT button for all of the corrupt ass hats determined to cause harm to the people of the world.
You’ve seen a lot over the years- high years, low years, major press coverage (Seventeen, Glamour, etc), changes in technology- can you share 3 things you learned, and when, that you wouldn’t have if everything was smooth sailing?
- If you are unable or unwilling to pivot, ehhhh…best of luck to you!? I think the reason why I was never able to write a business plan is because…1. By the time I actually knew what a business plan was, I had already been in business for 3/4 years. HA! 2. I pivoted so many times the thought of locking myself into a box was absolutely paralyzing. Every time I made a change I walked away with so much more knowledge than before. Each move comes with new lessons. Side note: I would also like to point out that when I opened Edge of Urge. There was no such thing as texting, social media or being able build your own website much less maintain a site built for you. So…my entire business has had to change in order to stay afloat.
- This one is a little uncomfortable for me to talk about because it has been one of my biggest obstacles as a business owner. Like…I have gone to therapy over this. That being said, I feel it is important to share. You can not grow a company alone. You need a team. People you can rely on and vice versa. The saying: “Hire slow, Fire quickly” is not a repeatable saying for no reason. You are only as strong as your weakest team member. This is very hard for someone like me who can see the good in almost everyone and who believes maybe…just maybe this time…they will care or show up in their best self! This starts with hiring the right person to begin with. WHICH IS NOT AN EASY TASK (for all) I hire for brains, heart, compassion, energy, resilience, ingenuity and the what can YOU bring to the team that we do not already have. Sometimes I get it right and sometimes I royally F it up. Maybe I was just too excited or too eager and was not thinking things fully though. Or sometimes the resume and interview are incredibly misleading or I just didn’t ask the right questions. These kinds of errors have cost me a lot of unneeded heartache, and money over the years. If someone is not willing to work with the team or if you have tried everything in your power and it just does’t vibe. Let. It. Go. (And do it sooner than later.) It will end up being better for both of you, and YOUR TEAM, in the end. Chances are, they are miserable too. This can be carried over into most relationships as well. I mean, you don't want to surround yourself with negativity and energy suckers outside of work, so why would you do it in your own company?
- So, in my 18 year of business I opted to go to work when everyone else was playing. Not take the vacation because there was just too much to be done and it was not worth the financial risk to take time away. I mean… You name it… chances are I missed out on it or showed up too late! Since covid hit and the entire world flipped upside down, I am feeling the loss of all of those missed opportunities. While being an entrepreneur truly does takes more work than most might think, there was room in my insane schedule that could have been carved out for myself. Now, do not get me wrong, I LOVE MY WORK and that's partly why I made the decisions I made. I mean, I was chasing a dream!!!! But looking back, I would have made some different choices. What's done is done but what I can NOW do, is take that and move forward in a new style. I can also, like this, share my experiences and lessons in hopes maybe one of your readers might say. You know what…FUCK IT! I’m taking the weekend off or I am going to cut out an hour early to meet up with some friends for a walk or a drink! I will feel more creative and refreshed when I return!
You’ve got a brand balancing act on your hands. There’s the EOU brand - clothing, leggings, jewelry; and there’s Edge of Urge, the store as a brand. This is a genius approach, especially considering any coverage of either promotes the other, however, has this caused any complications for your perspective as the owner of both?
True! It’s a lot to manage. My brain is like a wild animal that can not be tamed. Hungry for creative projects and new ideas! it’s a blessing and a curse!
I dream of being able to just focus on one area at a time. (I think thats my minimalist fighting with my more powerful maximalist) This was finally starting to happen moments before covid. Ha! I mean, I could not make this shit up if I tried!
That being said, in short, Yes. It is a challenge but having strong team members focusing on what they do best has been key to making this really work. But some of my most successful ideas have magically appeared when I was working on something completely unrelated. So I try to no beat myself up too much over it.
We all know music is a big influence and inspiration for you - can you share a few classics and currents that you love?
Music has always been a very important element to my life. The variety is vast and what I listen to greatly depends on mood, weather, am I alone, working, with friends…You know… all about the vibe needed to support the current energy. If I can’t feel it in my bones, it’s not for me. How about I share a current playlist? LISTEN UP!
EOU started as a small shop in a communal space, moved into its own location, established a web presence, opened a second location, and has launched 2 concept stores. Over the years that required you to grow a team. Outside of hiring a great internal team, who would you tell a budding entrepreneur to seek assistance from first?
This is a great question! And a tough question. Friends and family are great but sometimes they can be “Yes” people. Only because they love you and want to support you. I think it is helpful to have a variety of tees of people to talk to.
It’s important to find people who will give you honest feedback. People you can just vent to and are not going to try to solve your issues. Just great listeners! I often discover my own answer just spitting it all out. Try to find some other entrepreneurs you can bounce ideas off of. I have gotten great ideas and feedback from entrepreneurs who were not focused in my field. They just have that same creative weird brain!
Reaching out to people who specialize in areas you want to learn more about is a great way to, not only gain knowledge, but make helpful connections to grow your business. Again, you can’t do everything yourself and kick ass. Find experts in the areas you need assistance. Like BRAND ENGINE!
Most every entrepreneur or small business owner lives their life like a swan. On the surface we are chill and hanging out, but underneath, where no one can see, we are working our hardest to stay afloat. But every so often, we hit those milestones, or have an AHA moment, where all is right and you can float for a minute. When have you felt that way?
Well, YES! December 31st 2019! I felt like I finally was starting to get the hang of it. HA! That sure lasted long! BAHAHAHAHAHA! Such is life as an entrepreneur!
But what really keep me going and fighting for this dream…I have to say…receiving emails or cards from customers who wanted to take time from their busy schedules to say thank you and comment about a recent experience with us….There is nothing better! It’s like all of the detail and hard work is not only noticed…but appreciated.
It’s pure gold!
In the next conversation with Jessie, we've got to figure out a way to get her to share her black bean burrito recipe.