Young Mountain Home startup builds brand through community giving

Borderline shirts featured at Dry Run Creek
Borderline's unique clothing line features shirts that are infused with a natural bug repellent. The two-year-old outdoor clothing company uses community activism to promote and grow their brand. Photos taken by Logan Slusser.

A two-year-old outdoor clothing company that was started in Mountain Home, Arkansas, has some big goals for growth and community giving.

“If Borderline keeps pace with what they’re doing, in five years I would like to forecast we have raised anywhere from two to three million meals,” said co-owner Mark Bertel about Borderline’s commitment to donate a portion of their revenue to buying meals for those in need.

Borderline Clothing and Supply employs 11 people and is headquartered in Cove Coffee at 714 South Baker Street in Mountain Home. Cove Coffee was founded by Mark’s wife, Kelsey.  Borderline’s main focus has been on selling bug-repellent infused clothing for outdoor enthusiasts and hopes to grow to have at least one retailer in each of the 50 states.

Borderline founder Chris Royer first thought of the concept in 2016 and brought on his friends Mark Bertel and Gage McIntosh as partners when Borderline was introduced in 2017.  In addition to being available for purchase online, Cove Coffee and some other locations have Borderline’s products for sale. 

While they’re interested in selling shirts and hats, Borderline recognizes what many other outdoor outfitters have as well — that this industry and their customers value community giving.  Most famously, the outdoor clothing brand Patagonia considers itself an “activist company,” donating money and time to environmental and land preservation causes.  For Mark and the rest of the Borderline staff, hunger is the cause they have chosen.

Borderline was the main sponsor of Bridge Bash, an event created to raise money for the Food Bank of North Central Arkansas in 2018. At the event, over 500,000 meals were raised.

“For real change to happen, people in the retail industry need to step up to the plate and help out,” Mark said.

The Borderline staff uses retail as a way to fight hunger. Each time a shirt or product is purchased, Borderline buys ten meals for the local food bank. For example, if Borderline sells 1,000 shirts, they will purchase 10,000 meals. Listen below to a clip of Mark talking about how Borderline fights hunger in Arkansas.

 

 

Mark said that the ability to keep connecting with new people through their community outreach outweighs profits and revenues. Recently, the company announced the launch of its Borderline Initiative Scholarship at Arkansas State University-Mountain Home. Scholarship applicants will write a one-page paper that details what they enjoy about the outdoors and how they plan to give back to the community after graduation. The Borderline staff also participate in fundraising events that help combat hunger in Arkansas. 

Borderline is also working on an entirely different problem that is especially irritating to outdoorsy adventurers: bugs.

Each Borderline clothing item and hat is infused with Bugout, an all-natural bug repellent created by the Borderline staff. Mark said that the Borderline team recognized that an organic repellent was necessary for the outdoors community. Most other repellents use an insecticide known as permethrin. The EPA classifies permethrin as “Likely to be carcinogenic to humans” based on observations of tumors in mice.

Customers can avoid harmful chemicals when they purchase Bugout. However, some may wonder about its credibility.

Noelle King, an avid outdoorsperson in Arkansas, frequently hikes in her Borderline gear.

“Normally you get those gnats around your face, you get mosquitoes that follow you around, and I have personally noticed way less of that when I am in hiking in my Borderline,” she said.

According to Mark, customers have reported that the Bugout infusions are effective for 15 to 20 wash cycles. Customers can also buy bottles of the Bugout formula for their day pack. Listen below to a clip where Mark talks about Bugout.

 

 

Several businesses carry Borderline’s products. The interactive map on their website shows all of the different locations that carry their clothing line. All Borderline products can also be purchased on their website as well.

Follow Borderline on Instagram and Facebook. Mark said the Borderline team actively uses social media to advance their brand and build their community.

 

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