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Start Your Business Entrepreneurs

Small Business Snapshot: Alma Mater

Small Business Snapshot: Alma Mater Credit: Amy Parrish Photography

Our Small Business Snapshot series features photos that represent, in just one image, what the small businesses we feature are all about. Amanda Sima, founder and president of Alma Mater, explains how this image represents her business.

Alma Mater designs and sells fast fashion in the licensed apparel industry. Our approach to fan apparel is simple: quality fashion perspectives and modern fits. Fans have a true variety of choices to display their pride, and can feel fresh while doing it. We have more than 90 NCAA college licenses and next have our sights on delivering quality fashion to the professional leagues.

I started my business because I saw a gap in an industry that garnered consumers from all walks of life. Most of us have love for our teams, and every season is filled with fun and pride.  But the industry has been capitalizing on fan pride with subpar goods for too long. We saw an opportunity to bring fashion and fit to the mass sea of tees and fleece in every fan shop around the country. 

My first step was developing our debut line of classic sweaters while also exploring the vast, competitive licensing industry. After gaining licenses at three of the major Big Ten schools, we began to grow both our licensing platform and product offerings to become one of the largest providers of fast fashion in licensed apparel.

The companies in licensed apparel go beyond just Nike and Under Armour. All equally huge in size producing mass volumes of goods, it is difficult to stand out with new concepts in licensed apparel. It is an old industry with many comforts in place for both large companies and universities. But ultimately, consumers have the final say, and many businesses are experiencing increasing difficulty retaining female and younger shoppers. As a female-owned, millennial-owned company, we have our finger on the pulse of what these shoppers want, and that is why we are on a fast growth track.

Edited for brevity and clarity by Nicole Taylor.