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Sky Outfitters pivots to manufacturing

(photo courtesy of Sky Manufacturing)

INDIANAPOLIS (Inside INdiana Business) — An Indianapolis-based company that launched out of a Taylor University dorm room is once again rebranding. Sky Outfitters, which previously served as an e-commerce website selling its branded socks, scarves, and t-shirts, has closed and Sky Manufacturing has taken its place. The new company makes socks and athletic apparel for about 160 partners across the country.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, founder Keaton Hendricks said he found a niche in the manufacturing side in late 2019.

“People had started to find out that we were manufacturing socks, but they wanted their own running socks made with their logo instead of ours to help promote their branding,” said Hendricks. “That started in 2019 [and] went through 2020. Obviously, the pandemic changed things and as the pandemic kind of forced us into relying more on this manufacturing side, Sky Outfitters kind of took a back seat.”

Sky Outfitters officially closed last week after five years. Hendricks says it was a sad ending, but “it was time.” He says the change to Sky Manufacturing is part of a natural evolution in business.

“This is now our third company name that we will go by. So, we have made several pivots and changes, but that’s what every business does is making these small pivots and changes to find where you’re most needed in the market and we feel like we’ve found that in a way that we’ve never felt before.”

Sky Manufacturing has five full-time employees, all Taylor University graduates, and Hendricks says they are heavily focused on product development for the run specialty industry. He says they focus primarily on running stores throughout the U.S., including Athletic Annex in Indianapolis.

“We’re using our relationships that we developed about six years ago to now build brands of others where we can give them better margin, better pricing, and it’s items that people have to come back to the store for. We started with socks because, of course, socks is what we have had the most experience with but we moved earlier this year and eventually, our whole goal is to create this apparel collection of manufactured items that stores can brand and use for themselves.”

Hendricks says the business runs with almost a crowdsourcing mentality.

“It’s cool that we get feedback from people saying, ‘Hey, can you make this next?’ and so we’re able to use that information and decipher it to some degree to what we’ll move to next,” he said. “It’s all our team who’s been manufacturing these pieces and it’s been a big challenge. Product development is one of our biggest focuses as we’re trying to build this collection.”

He says the process of sending partners samples and having them pre-order a specific quantity of products also helps to offset the risk and costs associated with developing a new product.