What: Sy Design Inc.

What it does: Provides design and development services for outdoor product companies

Pictured: Founder Kim Brannock

Where: 115 NW Oregon Ave., Bend

Employees: None

Phone: 503-913-0069

Website: www.sydesigninc.com/

From a small office in downtown Bend, Sy Design works with outdoor industry giants like Cabela’s and Patagonia to help them solve their product design needs.

“I have a pretty big niche out of the fact that I’m a really technical designer, and I’m a product user, and I’m a female,” said Kim Brannock, company founder.

Brannock founded Sy Design in 2005, after spending 10 years working in a variety of product-design-related roles for Columbia Sportswear. When Brannock had a chance to work for herself, she quit her job and started her own firm in Portland within a month. She moved to Bend in 2013.

“Bend is the first place I’ve gotten to move to in my adult life out of passion, not for a job, not for school, not for any of those things,” Brannock said.

She said that outdoor-product companies often handle product design and supply-chain management in-house, but added that companies, even large ones, have openings they can’t fill and needs that open up when a designer gets sick or goes on maternity leave. When that happens, Brannock said, companies will contract with outside agencies like hers.

Sy Design offers a variety of services, from designing and prototyping outerwear to developing color schemes and building lines of clothing for companies. Brannock added that she likes companies to stay involved in the process and will often meet with their representatives in person to solicit feedback on prototypes or color schemes.

“Now that I live in Bend, I will say more customers want to come to me,” she said.

She added that Sy Design typically works on two or three large projects over a given year, with several smaller design projects in the background. While many of the firm’s clients are large outdoor clothing companies, Brannock said, some of her most satisfying projects came from working with smaller clients, including helping Wisconsin-based Milwaukee Electric Tool Co. launch a line of work clothing.

“I seem to have a knack for performance, really functional outdoor (clothing),” Brannock said. “I kind of nerd out on it because I like function, and I like solving functional problems.”

She added that she has designed products ranging from rain jackets for Patagonia to cat carriers for the Ohio-based Bergan Pet Products. In 2015, she added a separate makerspace across the hallway from her office for hands-on design work. While the company currently has no employees, Brannock said she was considering contracting with local workers on a more regular basis.

— Reporter: 541-617-7818, shamway@bendbulletin.com

Q: What are some trends in the outerwear world?

A: Kim Brannock: The internet has allowed a lot of small brands to permeate the industry, and a lot of new ideas have appeared, which is exciting. I love how those small brands have changed the industry a little.

Q: Is there any advice you would give to product designers who are starting out?

A: Relationship-building is super important. You can’t burn any bridges in this industry; it’s very small. And I think that, if you’re doing good work, everything else comes organically if you’re building relationships.