By Steve Sears
Penn State University student, Tyler Johnson, knew what he wanted to do.
Always involved in athletics and a gym goer, he viewed apparel being worn by himself and others and wanted to come up with his own concept. “One of the things I didn’t like was the quality of the clothing that I’ve worn to the gym. Another thing was I would usually get stuff I would pay a lot of money for and would have blank backs. I like to have a design on the back as well.” And he’s definitive about that. “Something big, something different, the Pegasus wings,” he says, also mentioning that, when a customer walks down the street wearing the apparel, others will know the design – his design – right away.
Welcome to Pegasus Athletics, born in Hackettstown thanks to Tyler Johnson and friend, Colgan Crane, with Luis Hardenber recently making it a trio.
Johnson and Crane (also 21) are 2017 Hackettstown High School graduates, and Hardenber, 37, is General Manager at LA Fitness in Easton, Pennsylvania. Johnson is a personal trainer at the location until he returns to his Penn State University studies in the spring of 2021. Johnson is the founder and CEO, Crane is in charge of finances, and Hardenber oversees marketing. “When I started and Colgan joined me a few weeks after that in late February,” states Johnson, “it was going well obviously at first, but then COVID did hit and it became pretty difficult for a little while because nobody wanted to have in-person contact.” Pegasus Athletics did local, non-contact deliveries for free on front porches and into mailboxes. The group also turned to Social Media (Facebook and Instagram) and created their own website to help out with orders.
Hardenber, who has been in the fitness industry for about 10 years, came on board in August. “I’m always open to different kinds of opportunities, and Tyler came into the gym, and me being a New Jersey native, we kind of had that little bit of rapport. We sat down and we talked about his business, and I saw the opportunity with how the meeting went of taking this thing and really doing something different that other clothing companies don’t really do. With a background in B2B (business to business), marketing and sales, we took a chance and put out a product of designs and a presentation of what we want to bring to the table and see how it goes. In 60 days, we were able to successfully fulfill our goal of orders, and we’ve just been riding the momentum, which has led into a showcase in a mall, out here in Lehigh Valley after Thanksgiving.” Views on the Pegasus Athletics social media pages have grown substantially, and the team has been peppered with opportunities. “We’re taking it day by day,” says Hardenber, “and week by week to see what direction we can take this in.”
The name? Johnson explains. “I was bouncing around a couple of different ideas and I was thinking how Nike kind of dived into Greek mythology. I tried a couple of different ones out and didn’t like the names.” When he went back to the drawing board, his dad recommended he look into the story of the battle of the Pegasus. His son, after learning more about the battle and tooling with the logo design, was sold.
Crane, a Centenary University student, says, “Right now, at the moment, we are only doing tops, and we’re going into sweatpants soon enough, and shorts. But right now, we have sweatshirts and t-shirts, tank tops, crop tops, and stuff like that. We’ve also been supplementing our orders through raffles; raffles are a big part of what we do. We’ve been very good to our customers.”
Per Johnson, the difference is that Pegasus Athletics gives back to the community. In addition to the before mentioned raffles, 25% of sales from a recent hoodie line went to Breast Cancer Awareness. They will also take part in a Lupus event in May 2021, an upcoming suicide awareness function, and other upcoming events.
Johnson explains what makes Pegasus Athletics different. “We take everything very seriously, especially customer service and getting things to people on time, making sure people are getting stuff that they like, they’re colors they like…we want everyone to be happy, and we want to keep a good reputation. Design-wise, we have good, comfortable clothing, and it’s way more affordable than a lot of those bigger brands out there. I plan on trying to keep it that way.”