How Nine Line Apparel Runs a Great Business with a Mission
In 2012, three young men set out to create a t-shirt brand. Little did they know that five years later, they would be building a 60,000-square-foot factory and helping families of wounded veterans. Here is their story:
Kelsey Tucker: Coming from a military family, I love what you guys are doing with Nine Line. What was your inspiration for the logo and name?
Myles Burke: If I remember correctly, the original logo was drawn on a napkin. We came up with a few ideas, but really liked the helicopter. Nine Line is a term in the military that refers to a medevac request for an injured soldier. So, in the logo, the dropline from the helicopter into the letters is our visual representation of what a Nine Line actually is.
Tyler Merritt: Daniel and I were both in the military, so it was important for us to continue helping those who served.
Daniel Merritt: Definitely. Nine Line Apparel’s premise was to be a driving factor for the Nine Line Foundation, which Tyler runs. If we could create really cool patriotic apparel that supports veterans, and at the same time put the money from those sales into the foundation, then we were happy. It just started out with two brothers and a SCAD guy — we had no business being in this field. It wasn’t necessarily about the clothing but more about the idea of creating something bigger than just T-shirts.
KT: I love that the idea to help veterans came before the idea of starting a clothing brand. I think that is something very unique, on top of the fact that you guys created a foundation, too. Can you tell me more about what the Nine Line Foundation does?
TM: Our company is definitely a give-back organization and I like that a number of our employees are veterans themselves, spouses of veterans or hold an affiliation or appreciation for military members and first responders. We wanted to create an organization only of volunteers and without an overhead, so that when money came in either from our company or from donations, people would know that the profits were going straight to the foundation. Making it known that we are raising money for a specific family, it makes it real for donors and our employees.
And while we can’t help everyone, we can do a lot for one family. We have gone from first helping my classmate who lost all of his limbs, to four other recipients, and now we are on our fifth. Just because these men and women have lost limbs, nothing is stopping them, which is truly an inspiration for us to never give up.
“Just because these men and women have lost limbs, nothing is stopping them, which is truly an inspiration for us to never give up.”