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City Nativ apparel startup grows in Sycamore

SYCAMORE – When Alex Bauer and Neil Vohra look at the apparel company they’ve started, all they see is growth.

What started as a hobby has become a company known as City Nativ. The two friends who grew up next to each other in Sycamore have been impressed by the company they incorporated three months ago.

“We’ve watched a tremendous amount of growth with our company,” Vohra said. “We’ve had sales in eight countries ... It’s been quite a remarkable growth.”

City Nativ is an apparel company initially started by Bauer to explore his creative side. Many of his clothing designs incorporate the outline of Illinois. Some shirts have the state filled with Chicago skyscrapers, others have a Blackhawk Indian.

“I went with the name City Nativ because I really like where I am from,” Bauer said. “I love my roots. I love Sycamore. I love Chicago. I like the aspects of Chicago, the skyscrapers ... I really wanted a way to show I love Chicago without wearing a Bulls jersey ... I wanted to show different parts of Chicago.”

The company primarily exists as an online shopping venture, but Vohra said their merchandise now is available at Smalltown Skate Shop at 229 E. Lincoln Highway in DeKalb.

Bauer and Vohra said there is a clear distinction of duties between the two partners. Bauer, 20, takes classes at College of DuPage and works as a graphic designer and photographer for the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles. His background in design made him the natural choice to be City Nativ’s design lead.

Vohra graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in December with a finance degree, specializing in entrepreneurship. He assumed control of the company’s business operations.

“When I came back, I saw what he was doing with the company and I really liked it,” Vohra said. “I thought we could commercialize it a little bit and grow. It’s been a great couple of months.”

Vohra said he wants to focus on their operations in Chicago, expanding to more stores before they start designing for another city. But in the meantime, City Nativ is just going to be Vohra and Bauer.

“The neat thing about our company is that we both work full-time,” Vohra said. “I always viewed that as an asset, not a liability ... Every night, we come home and look at the business ... Right now, I believe in sweat equity. I am willing to slog it out to see what we get.”

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