After walking through Edge of Urge or Unlikely Professionals, would you believe that the eclectic shops were an accident? Well, that’s how Jessie Williams, CEO, founder, and designer at Edge of Urge, describes her entrepreneurial journey.
After earning her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Performance + Sound from the Art Institute of Chicago in 2002, Jessie worked in a record store and took up knitting. She still has her first piece — a short knitted scarf with buttons, specifically designed to stay in place while riding her bike to and from work. Jessie started making them for friends and they eventually landed in stores. That’s when she knew that clothing design was her calling.
Jessie opened her first Edge of Urge store in Wilmington, NC in 2002, followed by EOU Raleigh in 2014. Unlikely Professionals followed suit, opening its funky garage doors in 2019. Now, the unconventional boutique is celebrating its 20-year anniversary.
Jessie has designed everything from swimsuits to wedding gowns. And though she no longer designs the clothing in her shops, her eclectic style still very much reflects in what she brings into her stores. She spends her time curating kooky + intentional clothing and holding fashion shows in her living room with her husband and 4-year-old daughter June.
We asked Jessie eight questions about her ideal day in Raleigh, her eccentric style, and local leaders she’s following.
What were the last three things you did locally?
Raleigh City Farm; it has an awesome Farm Stand every Wednesday from 4-7 p.m. Escazu; June and I love stopping in to get a little treat. Wonderpuff; they have so many fun and inventive flavors of cotton candy.
If you could choose one local restaurant to bring with you to a deserted island, which one would it be and why?
Garland [now closed] and Cheetie Kumar. Her food is so flavorful and I never feel guilty. And Cheetie is so talented and sweet.
Where did you collect all of the decor found in Unlikely Professionals?
A lot of this stuff was robbed from my house. We’re always scavenging and looking for kookie things. There is just something about the experience of coming into a space where you feel like you’ve been transported. Unlikely is a place to hang out, to get inspired, and to get your creative juices flowing.
Describe your perfect day in Raleigh.
I’m a huge fan of Burn Bootcamp. It’s so inclusive, fun, and judgment free. I love to start my day that way. And then maybe I’d go to Sola Coffee. I get a black coffee, avocado toast with salmon topped with an egg, and if I’m splurging, I’ll get a juice. Our daughter always gets the strawberry donut. We also love going to the flea market. My daughter likes sifting through this booth with bins and bins of stuffed animals. We also enjoy having picnics in our backyard.
Name 3-5 local leaders, influences, or movers + shakers you’re watching in the community.
Erica Porter, I mean, what is she not doing to help move our community forward? She is the chairwoman on the board of elections + regional food hub/YMCA, to name a few. Trey Roberts is doing so many wonderful things for our community like GAG Raleigh, Raleigh Pride, and Dix Park Pow Wow. Kate Rhudy; she’s a singer-songwriter here in Raleigh. She is as sweet as her vocals. We are big BBQ fans and are really looking forward to Longleaf Swine opening; it’ll be right down the street from the shop.
How did you get into the design industry?
It’s all an accident, really. Growing up I always wanted to do something creative. I really wanted to be with musicians and to be a singer. When I finished [art] school, I thought I was going to be a sound engineer. I loved making things and my parents were entrepreneurs.
Who are 2-3 other local leaders, artists, or influencers you’re inspired by?
Deana Nguyen from Feature Flora; [her store has] beautiful, drop dead, floral arrangements, with fun DIY events and pop-ups. Crystal from Nail Yeah!; she and her team are so incredibly talented. And Caroline and Siobhan from Fiction Kitchen — creativity and kindness for days. I could commit to being vegan if I knew how to cook like they do. It’s one of the first restaurants I fell in love with when I moved to Raleigh.