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New Nella Owner Seeks to Create “Chic” Atmosphere at Oxford’s Staple Boutique

By Kendall Crumbaugh and Kirby Wheat
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Oxonians and college students alike are likely to know the name Nella. Since 2007, Nella, located on The Square, has been a staple clothing boutique because of its elevated basics and variety of clothing. 

Since 2007, Nella, located on The Square, has been a staple clothing boutique because of its elevated basics and variety of clothing. Photo by Kirby Wheat.

Owner Jane Cross graduated from The University of Mississippi in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree from the School of Pharmacy. She worked as a pharmacist in Oxford for more than five years enjoying the amount of time off and the flexibility her job allowed, but said she wasn’t happy. 

“When I woke up in the morning I didn’t look forward to my day ahead because of my current job,” she said.

In August, her husband heard from a real estate agent in Tupelo that Nella was recently on the market and strongly encouraged Cross to take this opportunity to buy the store. Cross recalls that her husband wanted her to “do something that makes [her] smile.” They decided to embark on this new journey together and said they have only had positive experiences since.

Nella’s founders and owners for the past 11 years, Jeff and Berry Johnson, also helped to make the transition extremely smooth.

“Jeff and Berry have both been extremely gracious and helpful and have bent over backwards to help me learn this new business,” Cross said. “I had never worked in any sort of retail store, but because of my love for fashion and helping people feel confident in their clothing, I knew I would do anything to learn.”

The two families worked together at the store during the transition period to ensure that Cross felt comfortable when she officially took over. The employees and manager have all remained the same throughout the change in ownership and are all on board with changes Cross is making.

“I have been the manager with both of the owners and am really enjoying the process of helping Jane get her vision to come to life,” said Virginia Swider, Nella manager. “I love that Jane is bringing her feminine eye to the store and bringing in new clothing lines from LA to freshen things up.”

Inside Nella customers can find a steady rotation of the newest style, as well as friendly and helpful employees. Photo by Kirby Wheat.

Cross said she plans to make changes to Nella to make it feel more like her style, which she describes as “classic with an edgy and chic update.” She plans to add high-end designers and also give the storefront itself a facelift by creating a sophisticated look that is trendy and fun.

“Oxford has been an incredible home to me and my family over the past years and I am so excited to be able to give back to the community and create a space to help women feel like the best versions of themselves,” Cross said. “For me it’s not about the money, it’s about finding someone that perfect look so that when they walk out of my store they feel ready for anything.”

Overall, Cross said she wants to improve Oxford’s staple boutique and create a space of positivity and excitement for the community.

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