Student-owned clothing store sets standard for campus style

November 18, 2009 | Features
By Jeffrey Romagni

John Amato, left, showed off one of his shirt designs and UT student Zach Beebe held up a T-shirt in the NEX Clothing Co.

John Amato, left, showed off one of his shirt designs and UT student Zach Beebe held up a T-shirt in the NEX Clothing Co.

For many students, the most important test of their college career isn’t taken during finals week or even in the classroom. The true test comes after graduation, when a person is required to take lessons learned and apply them to everyday life in a new career.

For Zach Beebe, University of Toledo student and co-owner of NEX Clothing Co., the opportunity to gain success as a young entrepreneur presented itself early.

Armed with three business partners, retail space, and personal experience in the clothing industry, Beebe, 22, a junior majoring in business marketing management, began building his business from the ground up.

Earlier this year, NEX Clothing Co. opened in the Campus Village Plaza on Secor Road across the street from Rocket Hall. From designer shoes to hats and everything in between, NEX is focused on introducing Toledo and the surrounding areas to a more fashion-forward sense of style and dress.

“What I saw with Toledo is that it’s very behind in fashion and music, like much of the Midwest,” Beebe explained. “There is a whole movement known as ‘streetwear,’ which is really big in L.A., New York and Tokyo. It’s a freedom of speech by clothing, not just words.”

Although Beebe took the semester off from classes to focus on NEX, he is still very much concerned with campus life at UT. One of Beebe’s goals for the store is to help create a more student-friendly atmosphere in the areas around UT.

“We would like to create more traffic outside of campus,” Beebe said. “We want to develop the area a bit more and actually have things for students to walk to, instead of thinking that the Student Union is their only option.”

NEX carries more than 20 brands of clothing and accessories, including UT shirts created by John Amato, Toledo native and owner and founder of the online clothing store,

After his initial success with the creation of the Ohio State University sweater vest T-shirt, which mimics Head Football Coach Jim Tressel’s game-day attire, Amato began designing licensed merchandise for several universities, including UT.

“I had some design ideas for UT, and having grown up in Toledo, it’s a school I’ve wanted to make T-shirts for ever since I received my first product license,” Amato said. “Because of the personal connection, I think I can offer Toledo something other companies can’t. I have lived in northwest Ohio my entire life and I know the school very well.”

NEX carries two of Amato’s T-shirts, including a long-sleeve raglan shirt featuring Rocky the Rocket, and plans on carrying more as they become available.

“Any new products I create for UT, NEX will be in my plans because they are the trendsetter for Toledo fashion,” Amato said. “It looks good for me to have my products in NEX because people associate my brand with the other brands that are carried. Zach runs a very good store there, and the image he presents is something I want to be a part of.”

In efforts to create a complete multimedia facility, NEX Clothing also has received accreditation as an art gallery — making each piece of artwork in the store available for purchase. In addition, to ensure a memorable visit for customers, Beebe invites local DJs to perform during select business hours.

For more information on NEX Clothing or Jupmode, visit and

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