Born in Los Angeles, and well educated. Mrs. Portlock earned several licenses and completed her Master, having graduated from Jefferson High School, Henrietta School of Cosmetology, Los Angeles Trade Tech, and UCLA.
Her entrepreneurial spirit can initially be attributed to a long family lineage of business owners, helping her to blossom in several capacities as a runway model, hand and foot model, and a hair stylist in her parents’ 24-hour “Driveway Beauty Shop.” Embarking upon a career as an educator and pastry chef, she worked at several schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District; During this time, she also operated J.Zna’s, her catering and wedding coordination business, which thrived for over 60 years. Juanita designed and sewed hundreds of wedding gowns and bridesmaid dresses. Her clientele included celebrities and brides who sought out her sophistication and creativity.
It is for this entrepreneurial spirit that each year Students and start-up entrepreneurs in the field of cosmetology, culinary arts, event planning, fashion design, interior design, or hospitality management are recognized and awarded each year.
This year that award was presented to Inglewood Clothing Store owner and founder Steven Cotton.
Born and raised in Inglewood where he watched, in person, NBA greats like Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant bring home multiple championships at The Great Western Forum, he knew he wanted to be a champion in his community and for his community when he grew up.
Steve spent much of his childhood and young adult life reading, learning art, and playing football, with dreams of going to a good college and being a champion in those areas Coming from a family of educators, Steve was introduced to books and art at a very young age. When Steve was growing up his mother would take him to historic Zahra’s Bookstore, which stood strong in this community for over 25 years. It was there that he got the opportunity to meet local greats like Byron Scott and Muhammed Ali. It was destiny that his mother brought him to the bookstore whenever he got good grades in school.
The bookstore closed during the pandemic and Steve got the opportunity to take over the old historic location on the corner. Now, the bookstore that he visited as a child is Steve’s own Inglewood clothing retail store aka “The Inglewood Souvenir Shop.”
Life wasn’t always smooth for Steve and the event that he says “Changed his life and signaled what he sees as his life’s purpose” happened tragically in 2003. Steve and his friends were leaving a gala dance near Crenshaw when someone attempted to carjack him and he was shot 4 times, with one bullet entering his stomach, causing massive internal bleeding. After being rushed to the hospital, Steve spent 3 days in intensive care fighting for his life. He says of this time he laid in the hospital bed thinking, “ Don’t Give Up, Don’t Quit, Find A Way To Survive” The accident gave Steve a new outlook on life. He realized that God had a purpose for his life and he wants to show young men and women that they can make it out of Inglewood.
He wants to inspire children and youth to start businesses at a young age so that when they get older they are experienced in the business world.
Luckily Steve made it through and from then on made it his mission to become a local champion that inspires, builds, and supports the community that gave him life.
Steve gives credit to several people in his life for making him a community champion. As a walk on football player at Hampton University where he is now completing his PhD in Business Administration with an emphasis on customer service, Steve met and has been mentored by University President, William A Harvey. Dr. William A Harvey is a visionary leader who has not only grown Hampton University for 42 years but also is an active leader in his community. Of Dr.Harvey, Steve says “ He has inspired me to become a community leader here in Inglewood CA.”
A cousin to the late great Rosa Parks, Steve remembers how spending time with her showed him the importance of how to live by the values of being strong, supporting your fellow man, having a hard work ethic, and being a positive role model to those around him.
As a representative of his city, Steve always takes time out to meet, greet and support his fellow Inglewood residents. His employees and customers alike talk of his generosity and support of the people that make up this developing economic city.
Steve has big goals for Inglewood – the brand and the city. He is here to share the story of the city through his clothing brand in a way that will enable job opportunities for young residents and keep them off the streets, bring the residents together, and accept gentrification as a movement that can only better his community.
We want to congratulate Steven once again for representing the City of Champions and inspiring our younger generation. We also look forward to collaborating with him very soon.