She’s 26, Lives With Williams Syndrome and Has Her Own Successful Business
Jenny Lynn Unrein is an artist and an entrepreneur.
At only 26, she has a successful business selling paintings, greeting cards, mugs, jewelry and more all over the world. Its an already fantastic feat made more impressive by the fact that Unrein has Williams syndrome, a genetic condition characterized by developmental delays and learning disabilities.
Together with her stepmom, Wendi Unrein, Jenny Unrein runs JennyLU Designs, based in Topeka, Kansas. The 9-year-old business really all began when Unrein was 6.
At that time, her stepmom, an art teacher and artist herself, first entered Unrein’s life. She was immediately touched by the sweet and intricate cards her new stepdaughter would make for her.
“The thing I noticed about her artwork right away was that her stuff was very empathetic,” Wendi Unrein told The Mighty. “There were hearts and colors and the words ‘I love you’ written all over. There was this passion in it.”
The pair began collaborating on creations — Jenny Unrein would draw the pictures using a Sharpie marker, and Wendi Unrein would color them in using paints and pens.
“I just try to draw different things when I can, like flowers and happy things,” Jenny Unrein told The Mighty. “It makes me feel good.”
Soon, they decided to try selling the art and donating the money to charity. They began developing a business model and applying for grants.
“It just took off,” Wendi Unrein told The Mighty. “I never thought small.”
Suddenly, the two were traveling to art shows and conferences all across the country to sell original pieces. Their work has been shown in the White House and featured in the Kansas State Capitol, and JennyLU Designs has even received orders from as far as Australia and Asia.
Their company regularly works with charities. Jenny Unrein has done fundraisers for the American Cancer Society, the Ronald MacDonald House, the American Heart Association, as well as many other organizations. She wants her artwork to help people.
Through the business, she’s also gained confidence and purpose.
“It’s given Jennifer a voice and something that she’s been able to act on,” Wendi Unrein told The Mighty. “Jenny is doing something with herself.”.
“I love when I see customers buy my artwork. It’s amazing,” Jenny Unrein told The Mighty. “It’s a lot of work, but I love doing it.”
When asked what advice she’d offer others with disabilities, Unrein had this to say.
“I would just basically tell them to follow their dreams and follow their heart and just tell them to be them.”