After beating cancer, Jenna Steward is embarking on the next challenge in her life—opening a business.
The 20-year-old New Albany native said opening her own business is “like a dream come true.”
The name of the business is Cotton Jenn Boutique, and it is located at 722 W. Bankhead St. in New Albany next to J. Pearl and Company Salon.
“It was hard trying to figure out a name,” said Steward. “We’re in the South. We love cotton.”
Cotton Jenn Boutique opened this month and carries women’s clothing, home décor, jewelry and many other items.
Steward graduated from New Albany High School in 2018 and said, “I know everybody in New Albany.”
The community and her school were very supportive of her when she was battling a brain tumor at the ages of 11 and 12. She was a St. Jude patient and has now been cancer free for eight years.
“It was challenging,” said Steward. “I got through it with everybody praying. I couldn’t have done it without everybody’s help.”
Now she says there is a little girl in Ingomar who is fighting brain cancer, and Steward has met with the family.
“It reminds me so much of me, Steward said. “They’re really close to my heart now.”
In fact, Steward was wearing a bracelet in support of the girl with a Bible verse from Exodus 14:14, which says, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
When fighting cancer a person has to “have good spirits no matter what,” said Steward, who attends Bethlehem United Methodist Church.
“God got me through it,” said Steward. “Everybody’s prayers were answered. I still have complications, but hey I’m here and I’m doing what I want to do.”
This is not the first time Steward has run a business. She had an online business for three years in high school. The online business sold similar items to what her store sells now. Growing up, she always wanted something of her own.
“My parents always supported any of my decisions I ever made,” said Steward.
When she saw the building for rent on West Bankhead Street she knew this was her opportunity to open a storefront. She always felt the need to work with the public.
“This is what I want to do with my life,” she said. “I want everybody to feel comfortable, welcome here. It’s kind of exciting. I’ve always wanted this for myself.”
Now the business is up and running thanks to a lot of help from her family. For instance, her dad, uncle and grandfather built attractive wooden display cases for the business.
Just like she had a lot of support from her family when she was sick, she also had support when it came to opening her business. Everyone has worked really hard to make the store nice, she added.
“I couldn’t have done it without my family,” Steward noted.
Some of her merchandise is displayed on wooden spools, and Steward said she wanted to create an “old country style.”
“I wanted to be different,” she said, adding that the boutique has some good prices.
“We try to keep the prices as low as we can and (carry) the latest fashion trends,” said Steward.
Sizes from regular to plus size are sold at Cotton Jenn, and gifts, including items for Valentine’s Day, are also available.
While the boutique carries women’s clothing currently, Steward plans to venture into men’s and children’s clothing in the future. Cotton Jenn carries several brand names of clothing including Umgee, Jane Marie, BiBi, Haptics, Oddi and Zenana Outfitters.
Another highlight of the store is its large selection of candles, which are made by Steward and her mom. The candles are from JM&M Scents of Myrtle and include soy wax candles and melts.
They come in many different scents, such as Jolly Rancher, Kudzu and Mulberry. There are more than 80 different scents available.
Purses, hand-painted home décor, cheese boards, wooden bowls, pottery, Mississippi-made items and merchandise for children can also be found at Cotton Jenn.
“We have something for everybody,” said Steward. “I try to get what everybody likes—the trendiest thing that’s up and going.”
The clothing sold at the boutique is appropriate for many different occasions including work, church and casual gatherings. Shoppers can find sweaters, tops, jeans, leggings, cardigans and dresses.
“I have a little bit of everything.”
She has been planning on opening the store for about a year, and her friends and family are proud of her for making it happen.
“I love New Albany, and I probably won’t ever leave,” Steward said. “It’s small, it’s home, it’s all I’ve ever known.”
Cotton Jenn is open Tuesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.