- Associated Press - Sunday, October 12, 2014

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - Two entrepreneurs who grew up together have started a company to design South Dakota-related apparel and other merchandise.

SoDak Clothing Co. was formed by Elliot Fey and Tyler Hayzlett and launched in September.

“This is our passion project,” said Fey, who also works as a franchise consultant for the 34 Dairy Queen restaurants in South Dakota.

Hayzlett is the business manager for The Hayzlett Group, a consulting firm his father, Jeff, founded.

“We’ve known each other since we were in elementary school and have basically grown up sharing passions in the outdoors, hunting, fishing, photographing, camping,” Fey said.

They started SoDak Clothing to fill a void they saw in the apparel market, the Argus Leader (https://argusne.ws/1vLurs2 ) reported.

“We love South Dakota. We want to raise our families here, and we just want to celebrate it,” Hayzlett said. “We go into Minneapolis or other cities, and it’s a sea of Twins shirts or Minnesota Wild shirts, and it’s like, why don’t we have that in Sioux Falls?”

The company has partnered with American Apparel to manufacture its line of T-shirts and tanks. While the American Apparel brand is known for its retail stores, it’s also North America’s largest apparel manufacturer.

“Our biggest thing is quality,” Hayzlett said. “We’d like to house our printer in South Dakota. We’d still be using American Apparel, but we’d like to find a local printer.”

Hayzlett and Fey are creating the designs by hand, then digitizing them and sending them to a printer in Minnesota.

“We drew them ourselves but get ideas from organic spots all over South Dakota,” Fey said.

The initial line includes destination-specific designs for the Badlands, Black Hills and the state itself.

“We’re trying to get tourist traffic and local traffic but really the designs that show our state pride,” Fey said. “We felt (current designs) were a little outdated in the new generation of SoDak people, so we saw an opportunity to take something like clothing and bring a fresh design really embracing the culture South Dakota was built on.”

The two founders are the only employees for now. All business is online at this point. The website includes a gallery of photos from around the state and a journal of stories related to the destinations shown on the apparel.

The plan is to have products for sale in retail stores for holiday shopping.

Initial response has been solid, the founders said.

“It’s been really good,” Hayzlett said. “We’ve gotten quite a few calls from retailers in and around Sioux Falls and have had catalogs call.”

The product line also likely will expand, first with sweatshirts and hats for fall and then other items.

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Information from: Argus Leader, https://www.argusleader.com

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