Bethany Beach builder Marnie Oursler is in the spotlight on the new DIY show "Big Beach Builds."
From picking up garbage at homes created by her father to her own series on the DIY Network, Marnie Oursler's story weaves together a family legacy of builders.
"It's all just been so incredible," Oursler said. "I think, right now, my career is heading in a way that I always saw it going, but the show is something I never saw coming."
Now in its first season on the DIY Network, "Big Beach Builds" focuses on Oursler's renovation business, Marnie Custom Homes, and her extravagant projects in the Delaware beach area.
Oursler was born into a family of builders, from her great-great-grandfather on. Working hands-on at her father's builds in the D.C. area, Oursler ultimately moved to Bethany Beach, her family's favored vacation spot, in 2003. The next year, while working in real estate, she built her first home, for herself. Then, in 2006 a second, and in 2007, Marnie Custom Homes came to life.
"She's always been a go-getter," said Marvin Oursler, Marnie's father and owner of Marrick Homes in Frederick, Maryland. "She's always found a way to learn something from every place she's been and use that knowledge to build her own business."
Marvin Oursler paints a picture of his daughter as tenacious, always learning and growing, even through the housing market collapse.
"I always tell her, if she writes a book, I don't know what it will be about," he said. "But you need to call it 'Connect the Dots,' because every little step of her place, every place and experience, has shaped how her business runs now, and how she is where she is."
Marvin said Marnie, in the world of builders, stands apart from the pack by offering the whole package: market, finance and design mindedness.
"What makes her different is that she understands all sides of it," Marvin Oursler said. "She doesn't just understand the design and financial sides of things, but also the marketing, she knows how to sell what she does. What she does is similar to what I've done for the past 30 years, and the same as a lot of other builders do. She has just really found a way to set herself apart."
A touch of New England
Despite her upward career trajectory, including a 2013 Gold Stevie Award for women in business and being named one of Professional Builder Magazine's 40 under 40, Marnie Oursler never predicted the media attention that has come to her lately.
That attention, and her show, are the product of what she describes as a "unique style" of building that emphasizes experimentation and worldly influence.
"I love to travel, and everywhere I go I like to pick up an idea of how it can work here," she said. "I try to do something different than a lot of the cookie cutter homes you see in this area. I like imaginative things, things like hidden doors in cabinets, things people wouldn't immediately think of in a beach home."
In particular, Oursler takes heed from New England architecture, a style which encourages a country-home feeling and experimental design — from high ceilings to asymmetry.
"I just love New England, there's so many beautiful homes, and bringing that influence here really helps set us apart," Oursler said.
With her new boost to success in tow, Oursler has opted to give back with Sawdust and Salt Co., a line of T-shirts printed with Marnie Custom Homes' logo, with 100 percent of profits donated to charity.
"It's a chance for me to do some good, and I did a lot of research and found charities that really reflect what I believe in and what I want to see in the world," Oursler said.
Oursler ultimately whittled it down to four charities — St. Jude Children's Research Hospital; Girls Who Code, which assists women representation in STEM fields; Oceana, an ocean conservation nonprofit; and Operation Surf, which brings therapy to wounded soldiers through surfing.
For Marvin, he has always seen a charitable side to his daughter.
"She's always wanted to do good, and I've always seen her try to do things to give back," Oursler said. "Now, with her business so successful and the show and everything, she has a real chance to do that."
Though she already has a wealth of accomplishments under her belt before her 40th birthday, Oursler shows no sign of slowing down.
Filmed through the summer months of 2016, the first season of "Big Beach Builds" was a project that came out of the blue for her, and is something she hopes to repeat in the coming year.
"I'm just not sure what's next, it's all just been so exciting," Oursler said. "Right now, we're just waiting for the ratings to come in, and hoping for a second season."
Big Beach Builds airs on the DIY Network Mondays at 8 p.m.