Aly Silverio knew she had made the right decision to follow her dreams and pursue her passion the moment she saw One Direction’s Zayn Malik wearing a shirt she designed on The Today Show.
While most kids her age opted for a typical summer job folding clothes or flipping burgers, 15-year-old Aly Silverio was determined to avoid this usual fate and instead began her own jewellery line. Five years later, the North Carolina native has expanded her venture into a successful clothing company whose products have been worn by the likes of Simple Plan, Ed Sheeran and One Direction.
The bubbly 20-year-old shrieks when she tells the story about Zayn. Aly has many “wow” moments to remember. Moments when she thought, “I can’t believe this is happening.” With over 20, 000 dedicated followers on Twitter and Instagram and thousands of orders being placed every month, the dream that was once Jawbreaking is now a reality. Hard work, determination and talent are just a few of the qualities Aly possesses, but she claims that it’s a love for what she does that got her to where she is today.
It was this passion that motivated Aly to try her hand at making jewelry out of polymer clay and selling her creations online back in 2008 after receiving a similar item as a gift. She soon found herself spending her summers travelling with the Vans Warped Tour, enduring long days in the hot sun to promote her newly created brand.
“I wanted [the name] to start with a J and I came across the words jawbreaker and jaw dropping and just combined them,” Aly says. “I honestly didn’t think I was going to be saying Jawbreaking every five seconds of my life or that it was going to stick. I didn’t think it was going to become this big.”
Once her jewelry line started to expand in 2011, Aly decided to use the money from her profits to start up the venture she always wanted to do—clothing. From graphic tees that bluntly stated, “boys suck” to sweatshirts and pants that read, “dream while you’re awake.” Aly’s clothing is not only appealing, but it’s also relatable to her target market.
Jawbreaking’s simple, yet creative designs have caught the interest of young Hollywood and have been worn by celebrities like Megan & Liz, Kylie Jenner and even Degrassi’s Cristine Prosperi.
“I base the designs off of what’s going on in my life, which is something I never thought I’d be able to do. It’s not only relationships, but travel and my friends and inside jokes that I can make into a shirt,”
Aly says. “I think I’m the Taylor Swift of creating shirts.”
Of course, her journey didn’t come without obstacles and ridicule. Aly made the dive into the business world at such a young age and, as a result, was bombarded by many people who questioned her objectives. They didn’t believe she could be successful. But Aly stresses how important it is to set goals for yourself, especially when your heart is set on accomplishing something.
“There are people who are going to try and knock you down and be like, ‘Oh that’s impossible; you can’t do that.’ But I just use that as fuel to my fire,” Aly says. “You use that to your advantage, so you can prove those people wrong. You can’t let people tell you that you can’t do something. It may sound cheesy, but you really have to believe in yourself.”
In a year, Aly’s witnessed the popularity and demand for Jawbreaking blow up, and for that she thanks social media and word of mouth. Anyone scrolling through Jawbreaking’s tweets (@shopjawbreaking) will see endless re-tweets of girls proudly wearing its products and commenting back and forth. Aly doesn’t let one mention go unnoticed on Twitter, proving that Jawbreaking isn’t simply a one-sided business, but a company that truly cares about the thoughts and opinions of those who support it.
Aly has accomplished goals she didn’t even think to set for herself, like having her products sold in Zumiez stores nationwide and expanding her home business into an office space. Unsure of what the future holds, she plans to just go with the flow and hope for the best.
“I want to be able to do this forever,” says Aly. “I still don’t believe half the things that happened with Jawbreaking so far, but I still have to continue working hard to take the company to the next level.”