Making it Beautiful

Jenna McKnight styles fashion and homes


As the owner of Aqua Fedora boutique and Aqua Home Staging, JENNA MCKNIGHT brings aesthetic accents to both body and home.

The fashion and design aficionado has always been an artist. After taking art classes at college, McKnight spent several years working in a Florida art gallery. “I became submerged in the art world,” she says, “and learned the ins and outs of running a small business. That gave me the confidence to open my store.”

McKnight opened her Aqua Fedora boutique in 2009, showcasing classy clothes in a casual, comfortable atmosphere. “I wanted to open a little shop downtown that wasn’t overly pricey, and I loved the challenge of displaying things,” she says.

In terms of the store aesthetic, Aqua Fedora’s fashion lines speak to her innate sensibilities. “I have always been drawn to the boho style, so I kind of stick to that,” she says. “I go with my gut, I suppose.”  She tries to find designs and styles that appeal to many, while her favorite pieces have unique colors and patterns. “I’m a sucker for a funky pattern!” she says.

When working with clients, McKnight keeps it low-key, helpful, and fun. With plenty of places to sit and lounge, Aqua Fedora boasts a relaxing space for discovering new fashion.  “They’re here to enjoy their day,” says McKnight, of her growing clientele, “and I love it when they do!

Having established her welcoming retail haven, McKnight then set her sights on fine-tuning the spaces of others. “One of my passions in the store has always been to display things,” she says. “I’m used to moving things around to fit the space and to make the ‘flow’ better, and that definitely comes into play when I’m staging a house.”

About seven years into Aqua Fedora, McKnight launched Aqua Home Staging to create beautiful spaces that help sell homes.

To make an environment look and feel pleasant—an overarching goal—the designer listens, suggests, and explains her reasoning. “When people look for houses online, they see tiny thumbnail images first,” she explains. “It’s easy for houses to appear more cluttered than they are!” Her goal is to make a house look as inviting and cozy as possible.

Small adjustments like adding more plants or splashes of color— “pops of pizzazz,” says McKnight, with a smile—all help to de-clutter and streamline an overall look. “Placing small plants on countertops add a lot of life to a room, and new throw pillows for couches go a long way.”

And yet, it’s important the home doesn’t look too bare, she explains. “First of all, rooms do appear smaller when they’re empty! And if the house is empty, it’s hard to hone in on what is there,” she explains. “It’s about falling in love with the feel of a home.”

Of both her ventures, McKnight loves that they’re rooted in Wilmington. “Living in our little beach town is my very favorite thing,” she says. “I love the vibe here, and the sense of community. I love that it’s not too big and not too small. I love that there are people I have waved to in the streets for the last 12 years and I may not know all their names, but we share the commonality of having a business here.”

To view more of photographer Aris Harding’s work, go to

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Categories: Style