UG Apparel was 1 of 6 businesses chosen by the WV Department of Commerce to represent business in WV. Check out UG’s film vignette below!
The Charleston Daily Mail, August 29, 2013
by Jared Hunt
Armed with a laptop, cellphone and a lot of passion, one Charleston entrepreneur has elbowed her way into the collegiate apparel market, carving out her own niche against corporate titans like Nike and Victoria’s Secret.
When Nesha Sanghavi founded her UG Apparel women’s fashion company in 2011, she only had license to sell West Virginia and Marshall university-branded items in just a handful of retail outlets across West Virginia.
Two years later, her clothing brand has earned license approvals from a dozen NCAA schools, and her retail footprint extends all the way from the Carolinas to Nebraska.
While she designs all the fashions in her apparel line, Sanghavi, who turns 27 next month, doesn’t think of herself as a fashion designer. She considers herself an entrepreneur.
“I think an entrepreneur comes up with an idea and then does whatever it takes to meet that goal,” she said.
That goal was to provide a fashionable college-branded clothing line for the modern woman.
The finance graduate and former WVU cheerleader originally took a corporate finance job in Pittsburgh after she graduated in 2008. But after putting in more hard work than her bosses seemed to be thankful for, Sanghavi set off for New York to pursue her dream.
She completed a program in fashion design from the Parsons School of Design, lined up a manufacturer and returned home to grow her brand. She originally called it University Girls Apparel, as it was initially targeted for the younger market.
One of the biggest challenges Sanghavi has faced is navigating the highly competitive collegiate fashion industry.
Anyone who wants to sell something bearing the name or logo of a school has to earn approval from that school’s licensing department or official to use the school’s brand.
“It’s a pretty tough contract to get,” Sanghavi said. “This market has become pretty saturated in the last few years, so they really put companies through strict due diligence.”
The schools get a portion of the revenue generated by each sale, and they want to make sure each retailer they approve adds to the university’s bottom line.
“They think of it like a pie,” Sanghavi said. “They don’t want to cut the pie into smaller pieces, where they’re generating the same amount of money from more people. They want a brand that generates additional royalty revenues for them.”
West Virginia Development Office
Business at the Speed of Life, July 10, 2013
Recently the West Virginia Development Office selected 6 business owners in the State of West Virginia to be featured in a film on business in WV. UG Apparel’s owner Nesha Sanghavi was selected as one of the business owners, and aside from being a part of the film, was selected to appear in a nationally televised commercial! The commercial aired on CBS during the Greenbrier Classic Golf Tournament, July 6th and 7th.
Check out the commercial below!
The Statewide West Virginia Business Plan Competition
West Virginia College of Business & Economics, April 1, 2013
The West Virginia Statewide Business Plan Competition affords college students around the state the unique opportunity to make a business idea come to life with the support of state institutions of higher education and seasoned business professionals from around the country.
Get the education, skills, contacts, and motivation necessary to create a viable start-up company in West Virginia…winners receive $10,000 cash in addition to accounting, legal, and virtual or physical incubator space.
UG Apparel’s owner, Nesha Sanghavi, was in the Business Plan Competition during her senior year at West Virginia University, making it to the finals, but did not win. Ms. Sanghavi has remained active in the Business Plan Competition, serving as a mentor and judge, to inspire other hopeful entrepreneurs to follow their dreams.
Check out this video, featuring Nesha Sanghavi, and get an inside look at the mind of an entrepreneur.
Business Matters with Mike Agnello
WCHS Radio 58, October 6, 2011
Click Here to check out our Business Matters interview on talk radio, WCHS Radio 58!
“Former WVU Cheerleader Starts Clothing Line”
WVillustrated.com, Dec 4, 2011
by Jess McCadam
MORGANTOWN -When I got off the phone with Nesha Sanghavi, I felt re-energized, ambitious and hopeful. Her outlook and excitement for her life and growing career was contagious and convincing. She made you want to say, I love what I do and I want to be the best at it.
Sanghavi is the owner of University Girls Apparel, an officially licensed supplier for WVU and Marshall Universities merchandise, based in Charleston, West Virginia. She didn’t just randomly pick West Virginia as the premier place to start her clothing line for “sports-loving” girls.
As a former Cheerleader at WVU and a self-proclaimed sports fanatic, Sanghavi found much of her inspiration from her experiences supporting the Mountaineers and attending West Virginia University.
“I cheered at the Sugar Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Elite Eight and NCAA tournament,” Sanghavi said. “That is where I started to find inspiration and ideas. I felt this emotional connection with fans. I would look up in the crowd, a sea of gold and blue, and feel this common bond. All of us were so tightly connected because of our love for West Virginia. We could all be from completely different worlds, but this passion for WVU brought us together as one.”
While working a hard-nosed hedge fund job in Pittsburgh, the finance and economics graduate started to really consider her clothing line as her life’s career. “I was at my job in Pittsburgh for almost a year and felt like I had aged ten years,” she explained. ” So I thought, I need to do something that I love and am passionate about. That passion would be sports and fashion.”
So, she left her job and went back to school, but not just any school. She enrolled in a two year program at Parsons, The New School for Design in New York City. While in school, she continued to work on her clothing line and designs all while learning the details and inner workings of the fashion industry.
In 2010, Sanghavi was invited to do an internship with the sports lifestyle brand, Puma, at their headquarters in Germany. While in Germany, she began looking around for factories that would make her clothes and after two failed ventures, she found one factory in India that pulled through and started the production of her clothing line.
That is where it all began. Using every ounce of knowledge she learned in New York and internationally, she came back to West Virginia and started to passionately promote her clothing line. “I would bring samples everywhere and just try to get them in stores,” she said
Now Sanghavi’s clothes are in retail stores all over the state of West Virginia.Places like The Book Exchange, Mountaineer World and numerous many Adams’ Hallmarks all carry her line. You can also purchase Sanghavi’s clothes on the University Girls Apparel website, www.ugapparel.com.
The line consists of everything from dresses, fleeces and tank tops to hoodies and vintage style t-shirts. The styles come in a variety of sizes that will fit all types of women.
“Football Fans Show Passion with Fashion”
The Charleston Sunday Gazette, August 27, 2011
by Julie Robinson
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — When they file into Mylan Puskar Stadium Sept. 4 for the WVU/Marshall football game, fans’ loyalties will show immediately in the blue and gold or green and white clothes they wear.
The search for college wear and wares goes well beyond game-day attire. Fans want the latest clothes and accessories. They serve their tailgate chips and dips in colorful bowls from vehicles bedecked with team flags, pennants, stickers, magnets and license plates.
Some show their spirit every day, like Steve Hughart, of Huntington, who was shopping at Charleston Department Store last week. Already dressed in blue and gold hat, shirt and flip-flops, Hughart’s arms were full of West Virginia University merchandise.”I’m covered head to toe with blue and gold every day. I’ve always been a loyal WVU fan,” he said.
Longtime retailer Charleston Department Store sells the largest variety of WVU merchandise in the state.
Young entrepreneur Nesha Sanghavi, 24, also sees the potential in collegiate wear. Just in time for football season, she introduced a line of WVU and Marshall University women’s clothing earlier this month.
From her vantage point on the sidelines as a WVU cheerleader several years ago, Sanghavi looked into the stands and saw lots of enthusiastic fans, but not many well-dressed ones. Baggy gold T-shirts and blue or gray sweatshirts were de rigueur for women and men alike.
Sanghavi wanted to change that.
She recently launched University Girls Apparel — in blue and gold for WVU, and in Kelly green for Marshall. The timing is right for the introduction of her Marshall collection. The school has recently reverted to Kelly green as the official school color. Sanghavi hopes Marshall fans will be looking for clothes in the brighter green.
She used old gold for much of the WVU apparel because she finds it more flattering to most people than the bright orangey gold used in most university clothing.
Her collection features halter dresses, feminine-fitted polos, baseball jerseys and T-shirts, fleeces, hooded sweatshirts and jackets, all with stylish details such as rhinestones or ruffles. She targets twentysomethings and older women who might disdain skin-tight junior styles.
She combined classic styles with unusual details. The three-quarter-length sleeves of the baseball T-shirt roll up to reveal tabs. Her designs feature styles she likes and wears herself.
“These clothes are basic and timeless,” she said. “You could wear them going out, to a game, or even sleep in them.”
Her idea for the clothing line was inspired by the loyalty she loves to see when fans wear school colors.
“I love the idea of community within sports,” she said. “People are passionate about sports. It brings them together. I wanted to stay close to that.”
Ben Franklin Crafts in Fayetteville, WV is a great place to stop in on your way to the WVU game. This year they have a new commercial out, which features University Girls Apparel!!! The commercial will air in the Beckley/Summersville/Fayetteville area during The Dana Holgorsen Show and throughout football season.
Check out the commercial on YouTube! Click here.
“Education, Drive Turn WVU Grad’s Fashion Business Idea to Reality”
WVUToday Press Release, February 25, 2011
by Dan Shrensky
But making University Girls Apparel, a WVU-themed clothing line, grow from idea to success also took skills she didn’t learn in school.
“She sees opportunities,” Walls said, “and, more importantly, she seizes them and does something with them.”
Sanghavi displayed this skill recently when she stepped in on short notice to talk about her business and her collegiate experience in front of WVU’s Board of Governors at a meeting in Morgantown. Entering her second year in the fashion industry, the Charleston native had emailed Walls to thank her and share her reflections on the Business Plan Competition. Sanghavi had recently returned to the U.S. from Germany, where she had finished an internship with international athletic shoes and sportswear company Puma.
Walls, who was searching for a student presenter after the original one dropped out, quickly secured Sanghavi’s services, and though she had only a few days to prepare, Sanghavi was a hit. The short notice was not as big a challenge as the short time allotted her, she said.
“I only had two or three minutes to present,” Sanghavi said, “and when I talk about my business, I get passionate and tend to talk and talk and talk.”
When it comes to Sanghavi there’s much to talk about.
From dream to reality
Sanghavi said she’d always dreamed of starting her own business but her experience in the 2008 Business Plan Competition helped her ideas evolve into more tangible ideas. She and her partner, Zach Armentrout, proposed a business focused on a portable throw bag used to rescue whitewater rafters. The idea for the product was Armentrout’s but he counted on Sanghavi, a finance major, to supply business advice. A WVU cheerleader, Sanghavi also knew something about presenting before an audience. The team advanced to the finals but didn’t win. But like many in the competition, the experience of the contest far outweighed the $10,000 grand prize.
“Sometimes it was really hard and very challenging,” she said. “But it was a competition and I’ve always been kind of competitive. It would have been great to win but I learned everything on how to put together a business just from being in the competition.”
After graduation, Sanghavi took the summer to think about starting a business. Her idea was to start a line of clothing line better suited for younger, more fashion-conscious WVU fans.
“When I was at WVU, I struggled to find cute WVU stuff to wear, clothes that were fashionable and more form-fitting than a baggy t-shirt or sweatshirt,” she said. “I looked through my closet and thought about what I liked to wear – why did I like it? Because the fabric was soft? The way it fit? Was the design timeless? And I also looked into other products on the market and in magazines. What is the trend? What is in fashion? It just developed that way.”
University Girls Makes Fashionable Apparel for Female WVU Fans
The Charleston Gazette , August 31, 2010
by Rosalie Earle
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Nesha Sanghavi hadn’t seen the Silly Bandz until earlier this summer. But when she did she realized the rubber bracelets in various shapes were a perfect match for her company — University Girls.
She’s keeping her fingers crossed that the shipment of bands, shaped like West Virginia, the Mountaineer and WVU logos, from the Chinese factory making her order won’t be delayed in customs.
The Charleston woman has already had one major setback in her pursuit of entrepreneurship.
She had found a factory in Pakistan to manufacture her clothing line of WVU apparel. “Everything was in line to come out in June of this year. My complete designs. I had the shapes, the fabric. All of sudden the company shut down in Pakistan because of the financial crisis.”
Throw in the up to 40 percent increase in cotton prices, and the climate’s been tough on small businesses, especially on “really, really small business like mine,” she said.
Sanghavi got her idea for her business when she was at WVU, majoring in finance and on the varsity cheerleading squad for three years.
“I was always wearing WVU stuff. A lot of fans wear WVU things, not just for games,” However, she found that most of the merchandise was for older women. The clothing wasn’t “age appropriate” for the younger set.