Two West Virginia University alumni from the College of Business and Economics were recognized by the United States Small Business Administration, West Virginia District Office, for their small business work within the state.
Arria Hines and Nesha Sanghavi were honored at a luncheon on May 4 at the Robert H. Mollohan Research Center in Fairmont, West Virginia.
Hines, online MBA program alumna and president and CEO of Allegheny Science & Technology, was honored with the 2016 West Virginia Small Business Person of the Year.
An entrepreneur from the start, Hines began her first small business, Windows by Arria, in the basement of her home in 1989. Her program management career began with her role as project manager for the construction of an Arnold Palmer-designed 18-hole golf course. This leadership role led her to her next opportunity as a key strategic contributor at SAIC as the director of programs, where she provided oversight for an operation exceeding $120 million in annual revenue. Hines started AST, an 8(a) SBA certified management and technology solutions company offering solutions to federal and commercial clients, as a two-person company with one government contract. The company has since grown to more than 195 employees and more than 20 federal government contracts in just six years.Nesha Sanghavi, creator of University Girls Apparel.
Sanghavi, B&E alumna and creator of University Girls Apparel, was honored as the 2016 West Virginia Young Entrepreneur of the Year. At B&E, she majored in finance and economics, graduated magna cum laude, and initially took a job post-graduation in Pittsburgh as a financial analyst. After realizing her true passion for fashion design, she left her job to enroll at Parsons, The New School for Design, in New York City and received a degree in fashion marketing.
While she was offered a full-time job with Puma after interning with the company, she decided to turn it down to pursue entrepreneurship. In what seemed like no time at all, University Girls Apparel, a women’s officially licensed collegiate clothing line, launched its first line in 2011, headquartered in Sanghavi’s hometown of Charleston, West Virginia. UG manufactures, designs and distributes its clothing brand to stores across the country in more than 300 small business and corporate stores.
While the business started as a small clothing line for WVU and Marshall University, the brand has expended and currently carries a license for 30 top universities, and the list grows each year.
Sanghavi said she is proud to have won the Young Entrepreneur of the Year award at just 29 years of age, and that starting and growing her business is the hardest thing she has ever done.
“My business challenges me every day, and has taught me more about myself than I thought I knew,” she said. “Winning an award like this makes the blood, sweat and tears worth it; to be honored and recognized by my home state motivates me to work harder and contribute more to building a better West Virginia.”