CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- In just a few years, Charleston native Nesha Sanghavi has expanded her University Girls Apparel line from a West Virginia University-based company to one that serves more than 12 colleges across the country.
Sanghavi, a 2008 graduate of WVU's College of Business and Economics, also holds a fashion marketing degree from Parsons School of Design in New York City. She recently added missy fit and plus sizes to her university line, which "has been very successful."
"There was definitely a hole in the market and it's allowed us a great opportunity to be different," Sanghavi said.
Sanghavi added seven schools in the past year -- University of Nebraska, University of Iowa, University of Tennessee, University of South Carolina, Clemson University, University of Maryland and the University of Illinois. She already serves WVU, Marshall University, the University of Kentucky, Virginia Tech and the University of Louisville.
Each collection offers the same styles of clothing in each school's colors and logos. "We are trying to be different in the market and focus more on alumni woman. The majority of collegiate apparel is junior sized," she said.
In addition to her plus sizing, Sanghavi also did a special line for the College of Business and Economics at WVU that "sold well."
She would like to develop new designs for her 2013 collection for the College of B&E and "any other colleges at WVU."
Sanghavi was granted a business license from the state of West Virginia and a license from Collegiate Licensing Co. -- which manages the WVU trademark and logos -- in October 2008.
Since she started out, she thinks her company, and her goals, have "definitely changed.
"I was kind of lost in taking this venture not really knowing where I was going to be," she said. "In just the first three years, we have grown as a real business.
"When I first started, I didn't know if I'd make it to the second year. Now, I'm still here. I have validation that my idea was something that needed to be put in the market. There was a hole and what I am doing is successful," Sanghavi said.
Now instead of worrying if she'll be around next year, she is working on the future of her business.
"Most businesses don't survive the first five years. I haven't made it to five yet, but I can see more of the business plan now," she said.
Sanghavi said one of the greatest things about her business is seeing her clothes on people.
"I go to all the football games," the former WVU cheerleader said, "so I see them a lot at WVU."
Recently, Sanghavi was in Blacksburg, Va., at Virginia Tech and one of the university stores had an entire section for University Girls Apparel.
"It was really cool seeing my products out of state," she said. "Not just as a hometown thing, but seeing it as a regional thing. Everyone [that works at] the store wears my clothes."
Sanghavi's goal is to keep expanding to new schools every year and to keep growing.
"A lot of people grow too fast, and I wanted that in the beginning, but now I can kind of see in the market that companies go in and out," Sanghavi said. "Now I am thankful for taking my small strides. That has helped to discipline me and keep me in business instead of pushing me out of the market too quick."
In five years, Sanghavi would like to see University Girl clothing available for all the Top 25 football and basketball teams across the nation.
You can buy University Girls apparel at several places across the state: Adams Hallmarks, Mountaineer World, Hometown Sport Wear, Glenn Sporting Goods, Ben Franklin crafts, the book exchange, stadium bookstore, Hornor & Harrison, Sport Mart and Charleston Department Store.
For more information or to see products for sale, visit www.ugapparel.com.
Reach Kathryn Gregory at kathr...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5119.