Phaseline.Co and BRCC collaborated on a new rendition of Coffee or Die's logo, which is inspired by Benjamin Franklin's "Join, or Die" political cartoon. Photo courtesy of Spencer Zeisset
Black Rifle Coffee Company is a veteran-owned company that prides itself on helping veterans. So when the time came to revamp two of its monthly subscription services, BRCC saw it as an opportunity to partner with other veteran-owned businesses and promote their work. BRCC’s first partner in this endeavor is Phaseline.Co.
Since September 2021, Black Rifle Coffee Company has offered a monthly subscription service called the Merch Club. The service provides customers with limited edition T-shirts that are not available for purchase at BRCC outposts or on the company’s website. BRCC’s popular Sticker Club is a similar service that supplies subscribers with one-of-a-kind stickers.
Both services are now being overhauled, and for the better. Beginning this month, instead of being designed by BRCC’s on-staff illustrators, the T-shirts offered by the service — renamed the Shirt Club — will feature artwork by veterans outside the company. Same for Sticker Club.
Spencer Zeisset, far left, served in the US Marine Corps between 2017 and 2021. Photo courtesy of Spencer Zeisset.
In other words, going forward, the exclusive BRCC merchandise that club members receive each month will be produced in collaboration with a revolving cast of artists, graphic designers, and design teams from within the broader veteran community. The goal, according to project manager Kenny Green, is to spotlight the work of talented veterans who share BRCC’s mission of celebrating and honoring those who’ve served.
Launched last year by Marine Corps veteran and illustrator Spencer Zeisset, Phaseline.Co designs and sells its own line of stickers and apparel. Similar to BRCC, Phaseline.Co’s aesthetic is heavily influenced by GWOT-era military culture and incorporates imagery from the modern battlefield.
Zeisset, a native of Bethalto, Illinois, joined the US Marine Corps after graduating high school in 2016. He served five years as an infantryman. A lifelong artist, he took issue with the lackluster quality of company logos and decided to apply his talents to making them better.
A Phaseline.Co and BRCC collaboration depicting skeleton grunts drinking “Warfighter Fuel” in a foxhole. Photo courtesy of Spencer Zeisset.
“All their designs were stupid as hell,” Zeisset told Coffee or Die. “So I took it upon myself to start making designs for different shirts for my company, then later for other people’s companies.”
Zeisset left the Corps in 2021. Like many veterans fresh out of the military, he felt lost and unsure of how he would leverage his experience as a Marine to build a successful civilian career. So he resumed his work as an artist, producing a series of hand-drawn illustrations and posting them online. Then, in 2022, he founded Phaseline.Co. The company’s name is an homage to his journey through the Marine Corps and onto his current path.
“There are different phase lines for different steps of a battle or a war,” Zeisset explained. “Once you hit phase line red, then you go to phase line blue — so now I have a different set of phase lines to get me where I am today.”
Spencer Zeisset's last picture on active-duty signifying the beginning of his transition from the military. Photo courtesy of Spencer Zeisset.
Some of Phaseline.Co’s most popular designs feature renderings of skeletons in combat attire — for example, wearing night vision goggles, wielding machine guns, or dressed in ghillie suits. Zeisset said the skeletons represent his aim to resurrect the military-themed apparel industry from the dead. As he sees it, most clothing marketed to veterans these days is unfashionable and generic. His goal with Phaseline.Co is to make apparel for veterans that looks good.
Zeisset’s foresight and hard work have paid off. The Instagram account he uses to showcase his illustrations has already amassed tens of thousands of followers. One of those followers is Logan Stark, a former Marine scout sniper and a co-founder of BRCC. It was Stark who first approached Zeisset with the idea of collaborating on a limited edition line of T-shirts and stickers. Zeisset liked the idea and, well, here we are.
The T-shirt that Phaseline.Co and BRCC have collaborated on is imprinted with an evocative version of our Coffee or Die logo, which pays tribute to Benjamin Franklin’s “Join, or Die” political cartoon. The same design was also included in the March Sticker Club. The other three stickers in the pack depict Zeisset’s signature skeleton soldiers. There is a skeleton mortarman firing Black Rifle Coffee Ready-To-Drink cans at Mars, skeleton grunts drinking “Warfighter Fuel” in a foxhole, and skeleton soldiers riding into battle in a gun truck. The shirt will be mailed to club members this month.
Editor's note: This story was updated to correct the month of the Phasline.Co Sticker Club stickers.
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Matt Fratus is a history staff writer for Coffee or Die. He prides himself on uncovering the most fascinating tales of history by sharing them through any means of engaging storytelling. He writes for his micro-blog @LateNightHistory on Instagram, where he shares the story behind the image. He is also the host of the Late Night History podcast. When not writing about history, Matt enjoys volunteering for One More Wave and rooting for Boston sports teams.
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