Stephanie Hanzel at Adorn

STEPHANIE HANZEL shows off a dress that can be purchased at Adorn, a new women's clothing boutique in downtown Neligh.

NELIGH — A new women’s boutique store has opened in downtown Neligh.

It is called Adorn, and it specializes in clothing pieces that are both cozy yet trendy, said store owner Stephanie Hanzel.

Hanzel bought the building with her husband, Dexter. Both of them are teachers at Neligh-Oakdale Public Schools. Stephanie teaches sixth grade, while Dexter teaches secondary math and science, and he also helps coach football and basketball.

In addition to teaching and opening a new business, the Hanzels are also building a new house between Neligh and Elgin.

However, Stephanie has another major event on the horizon. In July, she will undergo her third open heart surgery. Her first two happened when she was 5 years old. She was born with a heart murmur, so at age 5 Stephanie underwent a surgery to repair a hole in her heart and then six months later, she had another surgery to replace a valve.

During that second surgery, she received a child-sized cadaver heart valve that hasn’t grown with her as she’s grown. In 2016, she had a heart procedure to patch the valve, but she was told then that at some point she would need another open heart surgery to replace the valve.

She had hoped to wait a while longer, but in February of this year, she became ill from a heart infection called endocarditis, and it almost killed her. She then suffered a pulmonary embolism, which could have killed her, too. In all, she said that she missed seven weeks of school while she was ill.

She is now 25 years old and about to undergo her third open heart surgery.

So, why choose now to open a new boutique?

“The boutique brings me joy, and it brings me joy to help someone else’s day go better by helping them to find something beautiful that also brings them joy,” Stephanie said.

She said running the boutique and preparing for her third year of teaching both help to keep her mind off the upcoming surgery. Additionally, she is learning calming self-hypnosis techniques to help her face her surgery.

Stephanie credits her family for all the support and help they’ve given her through her illness this winter and with setting up the new store. Dexter and her father, Ron Bode, have remodeled the building and built her display shelves, and they’ve been the ones doing most of the building of the new house.

Her mother, Liane Bode, has helped her set up the boutique and is responsible for ordering the shoes they’ll be selling there. Stephanie is active on social media with posts and photos about the boutique, and her sister, Sara Bode, who is a freshman at Elgin Public, helps her with the photography.

Stephanie said her boutique — which opened last Saturday — may be found on Facebook and on Instagram under Neligh Adorn, and people can message her directly through those sites. Currently, the business does not have a phone number or a website.

Before setting out to run her own boutique, Stephanie worked for one in downtown Norfolk called The Brand, but she and her husband love Neligh and wanted to help the town grow.

Adorn Boutique is located at 415 Main St. in Neligh, and will be open Mondays through Saturdays and some Sundays. She hopes to be open a few evenings during the school year as well.

In other news

The parent companies of First Interstate Bank and Great Western Bank announced Thursday they have entered an agreement to combine in an all-stock transaction.