215 East Franklin Street #110, Raleigh, NC 27604
18 Market Street, Wilmington, NC 28401
Jessie Williams was clearly on the “edge” of something special when she opened up her storage closet-sized retail space, Edge of Urge — dubbed EOU — in beachy Wilmington, North Carolina some 18 years ago. Williams started by selling her own handmade clothing accessories, but quickly moved to sharing the space, such as it was, with other local designers. EOU, at maybe 400 total square-feet, became the smallest designer cooperative in the state. Big successes, as they say, can come from small beginnings.
Fast forward 12 years and a good 120 miles northeast. In 2014, our designer-retailer-heroine opened up a second (and decidedly larger) EOU retail space in Raleigh’s funky Oakwood neighborhood. Why Raleigh exactly? Williams explained, “I wanted to come to Raleigh to spread my wings. Raleigh seemed like a place that had an open mind.” The goal? Provide retail space for smartly-curated handmade goods, but without that crafty feel.
These days, EOU carries a little bit of a lot of things, both in the two retail locations and online — jewelry, men’s and women’s clothing, leather goods, home décor, one-of-a-kind baby clothes, accessories, and art, to name but a few. Standout items include the Aurora Silk flannel top for women (think elegantly-draped silhouette in ecru textured silk), organically-shaped ceramic trinket plates, and handmade Argentinian painted brass wall-hangings.
Edge-y-ness is still a key part of the equation, however, as Williams has made space on the shelves for items like espresso-flavored lip balm (yes, it’s brown), protest stencil kits (for the activist in your life), and the Bong Appétit Cookbook (mastering the art of cooking with weed, of course).
Edge of Urge has also focused on giving back to its communities. Williams and her team created a North Carolina benefit T-shirt with proceeds going to support Wilmington neighbors impacted by 2018’s Hurricane Florence. Over $10,000 was raised for local residents and businesses.
More recent developments include hosting classes, workshops, trunk shows, and special events, and a partnership with home goods favorite, DECO Raleigh. Together, the two retailers have opened up Root & Branch in Raleigh’s RDU airport. Dubbed a new kind of airport gift shop “inspired by both indoor and outdoor public markets,” Root & Branch carries goods from local designers who otherwise wouldn’t have access to international customers.
Visit Edge of Urge for more information.