About 40 miles south of the Virginia state line is the sleepy beach town of Nags Head, North Carolina. A destination favorite for many, this beautiful town, once only accessible by water, is now haven for millions of visitors each year. With a year-round population of around only 3,000 people, Nags Head is a family-oriented town with businesses being operated and run by local families. One very popular business is All Washed Up Jewelry, owned and operated by two Nags Head locals, sisters Ashley and Jill Rawls.
Ashley and Jill both have a love of jewelry making and actually started designing separately. Ashley recounts, “I started making jewelry about 5 years ago. My friend had a jewelry making party just for fun as a ‘girls night.’ I really enjoyed it and afterwards I started experimenting with different beads and designs, and it became a passion.” During this time Jill was living on the other side of the states and recalls,“I had been living in Nevada and started making my own stuff out there. When I came home to visit we started bouncing different ideas off each other and soon enough we had a full-on workshop!”
It was shortly after, Ashley tells me, that All Washed Up Jewelry was born. “I started All Washed Up at first as a hobby. Making jewelry for fun, a way to relax when I got off work,” Ashley says. She was not expecting it to take off the way it did. “Friends and family became interested in my designs and creations. I was surprised at the response I got,” Ashley says. “So I started setting up at local art shows and markets. It was a lot of work but went really well.” As the shop took off, Ashley incorporated new designs and ideas to expand her collection, with the help of her sister. “My sister started sending me her designs from Nevada. They were similar but different than mine. Our pieces complimented each other’s well,” Ashley says. “We also began to learn what our customers wanted which helped us develop our line.”
Jill shared a little bit about the inspiration behind All Washed Up Jewelry: “From growing up on the Outer Banks, a lot of our inspiration comes from the ocean and the laid back beach atmosphere.” She also tells me they enjoy working with brass and sterling silver and love coming up with fun phrases and words to stamp on their bar necklaces.
The story behind the name of the shop, All Washed Up Jewelry is an interesting one. Ashley explains, “One of the first things I experimented with were washers, like the ones from a sink faucet that you can get at a hardware store.” She goes on, “I made rings with them and they were some of the first sales requests I had, so they were special to me. It sparked from that, and I thought it was a cute pun being located at the beach.”
The easiest way to get your hands on All Washed Up Jewelry is through Ashley and Jill’s Etsy shop. Ashley tells me what it is like working with Esty and connecting with customers through the popular female artist friendly website: “We are all about empowering women, and are so inspired by all the other artists on Etsy pursuing their dreams. It has been such a positive thing for our business, and it definitely keeps us busy!” Jill agrees and adds, “Etsy has been amazing! We had a lot of requests from our customers for a website and it was a little out of our price range. A few people suggested Etsy so we gave it a try. We had no idea of the response we would get.”
Literally, Darling is run by two sisters (Katie and Hope) so we know firsthand how creative and fun it can be to work with siblings. Ashley told me a little bit about her and her sister’s dynamic running the shop and working together, “It has really been incredible. She is my best friend and inspiration.” Ashley says. She goes on, “Our personalities are contrasting enough to allow us to express different avenues of creativity, but similar enough to where we are on the same page about how the business is run. We help each other out when one is having a ‘block,’ and really have each other’s best interests at heart in all decisions we make.”
The future is bright and busy for Ashley and Jill, when I ask them about where their company is going, Ashley tells me, “We are loving the ride we have been on the past couple years. We are just seeing where it takes us. We are all about trying new things and coming up with innovative designs, so hopefully you will see us just get better as we go!” Jill wraps up the interview by giving some advice for other young women thinking about diving into their own business, “We could have never imagined how big All Washed Up would get, and we are still growing. So you just have to go for it if it is what you really want.” Ashley adds, “My advice would be to go for it! Dreams don’t work unless you do. Jill and I are so grateful that we put ourselves out there and believed in our work and each other.”
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