A Line in the Sand: Meet Nine Line Creator Tyler Merritt
PHOTO BY MARK STAFF.
No matter the fight, a soldier never braves it alone. In growing his company, Nine Line Apparel, Tyler Merritt forged the way ahead by making connections.
Tyler Merritt has just put himself through hell.
That he would put himself through such agony reflects not only his own personal mettle, but two aspects of Merritt’s character that have come to define his company.
The first is the cause. The Murph Run was named for Medal of Honor Recipient Michael Murphy, who was killed fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan during the famed Operation Red Wings mission immortalized in the film, “Lone Survivor.”
“It’s meant to honor those who lost their lives and to give back and commemorate the day we lost so many amazing heroes,” says Merritt. It also raises funds for the Navy SEAL Foundation, dovetailing nicely with Nine Line’s ongoing mission to support veteran causes. The Nine Line Foundation hosts a slew of events throughout the year that have raised funds for everything from medical aid to individual veterans to construction of a Veteran’s Village in Savannah.
The second aspect of the Murph Run that reflects Merritt’s outlook, and by extension his company, is the connections it forges. Nine Line’s involvement with the Murph Run came about through their partnership with Redcon1, and the event saw Merritt working side-by-side with Forge Clothing, “Who is technically a competitor of ours,” notes Merritt.
Those connections have been key to the monumental growth of Nine Line Apparel over the years. “The first really big partnership we had was with Sig,” says Merritt. This kicked off a list of partnerships with other second-amendment-oriented organizations from Glock to the United States Concealed Carry Association. These partnerships are a natural fit for Nine Line’s high-caliber aesthetic, something that is key for Merritt. “It’s all very organic. If they want to work with us, we want to work with them,” he says. “We’ve developed some cool partnerships.”
That also extends to partnerships with people who have gone on to become Nine Line’s biggest promoters. Social media influencers like Hannah Barron and sponsoring concerts led to partnerships with the late Charlie Daniels, as well as artists like Luke Combs and Craig Morgan. Then there are connections that sprung up without any kind of affiliation, like the endorsement the company enjoyed from WWE Legend The Undertaker. “He wears our product even though he’s not paid in any way. If you watch Undertaker’s Last Ride, he was wearing Nine Line,” said Merritt. “Those are the authentic partnerships.”
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, those connections have now found Nine Line creating a better facemask. Working alongside the Global Center for Medical Innovation and several other organizations, Nine Line has a design in place that sets a new standard while keeping operations entirely within the U.S. “We have a patent utility that does really well against competitive Chinese products,” says Merritt.
Born of good old American ingenuity, nurtured through a network of connections and aimed at creating positive change, these masks are a perfect reflection of Nine Line’s meteoric growth since its inception. •