We had the good fortune of connecting with Ashly Costello and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ashly, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
While on the beach one day I had forgotten to pack a cooler and I wished someone was selling something to drink. I was thinking about my family’s Sicilian Lemonade that I grew up drinking. That’s when I realized, there is a need for this product. So I called my family in New York and told them I had an idea – I want to sell our family’s Sicilian Lemonade on the beach. They said if I’M looking for something great to drink on the beach, other people will want that also. The next day I called every beach in the area asking if I would be able to sell my product on their beach. The answer was no, and then another no, and a lot more nos.
Finally, I had luck with Ryan Gordon, the Supervisor at Oak Island Recreation Department. Ryan told me to come down and apply for a business license, and that I would be able to peddle on the beach. So in May of 2019, I took the 45 minute trip from Wilmington to Oak Island and ISLAND SQUEEZE LEMONADE was officially born.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
The summer that Island Squeeze Lemonade came to be, my sister Jadyn and I, used beach carts to walk up and down the beach and prepare Fresh Squeezed Sicilian Lemonade. There was such a high demand for the lemonade on the beach, that it became difficult to keep up using just out beach carts. The peddlers business license doesn’t allow you to stay stationary. The Oak Island Parks Supervisor suggested that we join the Farmers Market as a vendor so that we could plant our feet, have a tent, and add extra equipment and supplies. Next thing you know we started to get invited to other local farmers markets and events.
In December of 2019, Jadyn had just received her master’s degree from UNCW and accepted a full time teaching position. This left me with the responsibility of running Island Squeeze on my own.
Then, in 2020, just as the farmers market and event season was about to be in full swing – Covid-19 hit, and I had to pivot. That is when we adapted, we implemented To-Go take home kits and were working through drive up markets, less customers, and new safety protocols. The community was great and our regular customers kept us busy.
In 2021, we are looking forward to getting back to some normalcy. Jadyn will be back part-time, which will allow us to be able to attend multiple market locations at the same time, as the demand for our product is continuing to grow.
Many people ask why this lemonade is so special. It is a balanced, time tested, generations old recipe made of only all natural ingredients; which are sugar, water, and lemon. Nothing artificial. No powder. Not your typical concession lemonade.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If my friend was visiting Wilmington NC, and I wanted to take them around we would have to make a stop at Fist Watch for breakfast. They have a huge variety of food and they are a new restaurant. I would also take them out to Carolina Beach where you can drive your Jeep or truck out on the beach. The entire beach is full of cars where people can set up their belongings in front and spend the day. I would also love to take them downtown to stop at YoSake for sushi. This is one of my favorite restaurants because the ambiance is so nice for a dinner setting. After dinner at YoSake, we can go right downstairs to the Husk to grab a drink. This place has pool tables and darts to play while you are there. Right across the street from there is the Reel which has a beautiful roof top bar. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My parents are my inspiration. They are entrepreneurs. My whole life I have watched my mom and dad start and run successful local businesses. They have always believed in my ideas, and have been the most positive and encouraging people in my life. They taught me if I am going to do something, to do it whole heartedly. If it was not for them, my business would not be where it is today.