A Startup with a High-Fashion Focus
This entrepreneur wasn’t pleased with women’s gameday apparel options, so she designed her own
Shab Sadeghi was never content with wearing the usual women’s licensed sports apparel. As a former cheerleader for the Oakland Raiders, San Fransisco 49ers, Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings, Sadeghi had intimate knowledge of what female fans wore to sporting events, and she thought it left much to be desired.
“I had the idea to bring higher end, nicer clothes that you could wear to a game night out to represent your team in style,” Sadeghi says. “I could never find anything that I felt was feminine and made me feel attractive.”
So she began making her own clothing. At first, it was just for her, but after compliments began to pour in, Sadeghi realized there was something appealing — maybe even to the masses — to her unique style.
“The idea started organically because I used to cheer professionally in the NBA and NFL,” she says. “I would make my own clothes to wear to games in the offseason, during rehearsals and always got really good feedback from my teammates, so I started designing for my entire dance team.”
In the mid-2000s, Sadeghi had meetings with various team officials about potentially manufacturing product for team stores, but nothing came of it; she even now admits that she probably would have been in over her head at the time. And while she continued making her own clothing, it wasn’t until 2015 that Sadeghi officially turned her passion into a business.
“I moved to Los Angeles and I started networking, meeting manufacturers, learning about fabric and I put my company together under my nickname, Shabbella,” she says.
Started in January 2015, Shabbella already has obtained collegiate licenses via the Collegiate Licensing Co. (CLC) and, thanks to Sadeghi’s passion and work ethic, is on the way to acquiring more.
The Game of Licenses
While acquiring licenses for collegiate and professional sports organizations can be a complicated and drawn-out process, there are exceptions to the standard, and Shabbella has been more fortunate than most license-seekers in this regard.
“I had a fairly successful licensing process,” Sadeghi says. “It’s just following the steps and filing the application. I reached out to people personally to introduce myself and introduce the brand. I was very vocal about asking them what they were looking to see, what they liked and making sure that they liked my product prior to applying for the license as well.”
Her former job as a cheerleader for teams in two professional sports leagues meant Sadeghi had available connections to other licensing offices and was able to effectively hash out licensing deals in a relatively short amount of time.
“It was a lot of back and forth; you submit your samples and if they like it, they give you the green light and show it to the school for their approval,” she says. “I think it took me about three months of back and forth before I finally got the approval for the licenses.”
Currently, Shabbella holds licenses several collegiate licenses in California — University of California, San Diego Sate University, Stanford University and others — through the CLC. But Sadeghi says she currently is working on an application with Learfield Sports to expand to more colleges, and even is eyeing professional leagues.
Feminine (Fan) Fashion
Shabbella’s current apparel line is available on its website and features “Sporty Dresses,” “Sporty-Chic Long Sleeve Shirts” and “Studded Sweetheart Tops” with various licensed collegiate logos and colors.
But there is one section, “The Classics,” that features Shabbella’s base styles with no licensed material. During a trial run at several California retailers, The Classics were well received and gave Sadeghi evidence of what she already suspected.
“I’ve found that the clothes without the logos are successful as well,” she says. “We tested in a couple local retailers in Newport Beach, and they sold out in 30 days. If you [like] it without the logo – if you’re a sports fan, you’re going to love it even more with the logo.”
That’s Sadeghi’s vision in a nutshell: to make outfits a fashionable woman would love to wear for a night out, but also to include the option for a sports logo to push the product over the top with sports fans.
“Everyone’s going to have their favorite T-shirt, but this is an apparel option you’re going to want in your closet for a date night for a game, or if you want to get dressed up, celebrate the game with your friends and watch it at a bar,” Sadeghi says. “That’s what the line is created for.”
Sadeghi’s company may be in its infancy, but that hasn’t stopped her from pursuing an aggressive path to success or setting her sights on the future high.
“My personal goal is to be the No. 1 licensee, leading-edge [supplier of] fashion-forward apparel for women in pro sports,” Sadeghi says. “I think slowly we’re heading in that direction, and I even want to take the apparel to an international stage.”
Indeed, Shabbella looks to be on its way big things, including making more inroads and even debuting product licensed by professional sports leagues.
“[Shabbella product] will be available to the NBA in 2017,” Sadeghi says of her collection. She also says she spoke with representatives from various Australian and English soccer teams, as well as Canadian hockey teams, all of whom expressed interest in Shabbella product at the 2016 Sports Licensing and Tailgate Show.
Lofty, long-term goals aside, Sadeghi is immediately focused on introducing the company’s fall line, which she expects to be online, in team retail and on-campus stores, in August.
“I can’t wait to introduce the new collection for fall,” she says. “It’s going to be beautiful, and will be like nothing anyone has seen in terms of collegiate or pro sports (fan apparel) in terms of the design.”