Morgan Widmer, a recent graduate of the West Virginia University Davis College of Agriculture,
Natural Resources and Design, won first place in the 2021 West Virginia Innovation and Business Model Competition.
Her clothing brand, Morgania, was the innovative business model that won among seven other West Virginia colleges and universities.
The fashion, dress and merchandising alumna makes clothes from deadstock, which are materials that would otherwise be thrown in landfills. Designers typically toss the material if it were printed in the wrong color or damaged.
“It’s good yardage of fabric that can be used, but they would toss it because they had no use for it,” Widmer said. “Now, some places are saving that and allowing other people to use it.”
Her brand pieces are inspired by surrealism and vintage films with colors inspired by her grandfather’s art. Her own hand embellishments create interesting textures to enhance the whimsical feel of the lavenders, pinks, greens, browns, blues and oranges. She caters to customers who are also imaginative and adventurous.
Her seven-minute video pitch, which she edited to include pictures and graphics, was played live during the competition. She then did a 10-minute live question and answer session with the judges.
“My favorite part was being able to present my idea and put it into the world more,” she said. “The experience made me more confident in my idea because of having to explain it to people and organizing it in a presentable manner.”
Placing first meant winning $3,000, which Widmer said will help launch her brand. She’ll purchase a dress form, a sewing machine and an overlock machine that finishes the edges of fabrics. She plans to make prototypes and start trying to sell.
“I think I won because of the brand in general, which includes both my designs plus the mission of it: to help save the planet,” Widmer said.
For anyone who has an idea or wants to start a fashion brand, she said she’d recommend doing a pitch competition.
“You can get a lot of feedback from different perspectives. You’re forced to organize your thoughts and make it come to life,” she said.