ZEPHYRHILLS — Tracy Negoshian wears her school spirit on her sleeves.
She's a budding clothing designer trying to develop a niche: college sports-themed clothing for women.
A few years ago, Negoshion, 26, started creating funky team shirts while she was a student at the University of South Florida in Tampa.
At Bulls games, instead of wearing oversized men's jerseys or bulky college T-shirts, Negoshian would wear her own creations. Within minutes, she could jazz up a plain tee by adding cool slogans or blinged-out rhinestones.
Soon, a few of her friends were begging for Negoshian's tops.
Now, she has parlayed her USF marketing degree and "sassy and feminine" designs into a business called My Team Boutique.
Negoshian's own pink My Team Boutique clothing labels are tucked into each of the garments she sells on her Web site of the same name.
For starters, Negoshian offers items for three popular Florida schools — USF, University of Florida, Florida State University — and the University of Georgia.
Negoshian's cotton tees and sarong-type dresses are emblazoned with Negoshian's own lively logos such as a gator, bull, tomahawk or bulldog.
"It's fun, it's spirited," says Negoshian's friend and former colleague, Michelle Peters, 33. "It's almost like wearing a Pucci outfit to a (football) game."
Building the business
Peters and Negoshian used to work together as personal shoppers at an upscale department store in Palm Beach. Now Negoshian is a designer in her own right. The homemade T-shirts are a thing of the past. Now, a New York company manufactures the clothing.
Soon, Negoshian will start using authentic school logos on her garments, once her application for licensing rights is approved.
"I like the fact that (Negoshian is) a local girl and she's innovative," said Claudia Mandani of Dade City, a friend of Negoshian's family.
Right now, Negoshian is living with her mother and stepfather in Dade City, because she wants to save money to build her business. Negoshian, a Zephyrhills High School grad, logs 16 hour days taking and shipping out orders and also helps out as an assistant girls golf coach at Zephyrhills High.
There's a My Team Boutique storefront in downtown Dade City almost ready to open for business, too. In addition to her trendy $90 team dresses and $50 undershirts, she offers chunky team bracelets and bright earrings, too.
My Team Boutique has become sort of a family business, Negoshian's stepfather, Tom Smith, 59, is her business partner.
He's a real estate developer by trade who forked over six figures to help get the business of the ground.
Smith says, when it comes to college team garments, there is a big market for women's items. So, "if you find a hole, fill it," he says.
Negoshian and Smith hope to add on 16 more school teams by next year's football season.
"I wanted to work for myself so I just went after my dream," said Negoshian.