Mile Nine Mercantile

American Made Since 2012

Deja Engel & Jake Soder

Austin, Texas
We design and craft high-quality products for home, garden, and more inspired by design, travel, and enthusiasm for an adventurous life.

Tell us about your business.

Mile Nine is the creative collaborative of Jake and Deja, inspired by wanderlust, simple living, craftsmanship and design. Jake and Deja quit their corporate jobs and hit the road in October 2012 embarking on a 2 month roadtrip from Seattle to Austin. Mile Nine was formed along the way. See Jake has a background working in tech as a product manager, but he is not afraid to get his hands dirty and consistently innovates new ways to build things by intermixing materials and methods, bringing to life anything they can dream up. Deja has a background as a software ux designer and graphic designer. She is passionate about design… especially the ease of use and experience of design. She has impeccable attention to detail and a knack for distilling complex information down to a simple story. Our goal is to define and focus Mile Nine in the upcoming year into a set of high-quality products that have both beauty in exquisite detail and simplicity.

What makes your business stand out?

We take a unique approach to creating products by continuing to push a product in functionality, detail, and artistry without making more complicated. For example, we wanted to build high-quality planter boxes for an indoor herb garden. The initial version was a beautiful oak hardwood box. Then we thought, what would make this more unique, modern and versatile? Why not a triangle? Triangles can be arranged in numerous patterns, creating a geometric masterpiece simply in the arrangement possibilities. The next question... how can this planter help to grow the herbs (we've killed a few herb gardens in the past)? We got to work researching the subtleties of growing herbs and realized there is much knowledge to be had. We then distilled the research into an infographic for each herb, which we engraved on one side of the boxes. An illustration was engraved on the second side, and the third was left blank. You can show or hide any side depending on your arrangement.

What's the best business advice you've received?

Iteration, iteration, iteration.

Mark Your Calendar

  • Nominations
    June 3–Aug. 29, 2014

    Nominate yourself or other aspiring makers.

    Nominate yourself
  • Judging
    June 23–Sept. 8, 2014

    Judges will select finalists throughout this period.

    Meet the judges
  • Online Voting
    Sept. 15–Oct. 13, 2014

    Vote for your favorite American makers.

    See the finalists
  • Winners Announced
    Oct. 17, 2014

    2014 Award Winners and Audience Choice Winner announced.

    See past Award Winners
  • American Made Event
    Nov. 7–8, 2014

    Join us for our annual event in New York City.

    Buy tickets now

More Nominees

  • 2014 Food Finalist

    Gelato Fiasco

    Joshua Davis & Bruno Tropeano
    We create gelato so delicious that you'll never be satisfied by another frozen dessert. Made from scratch in small batches with passion.
    Food, Sweets & Baked Goods
  • I've taken the age old craft of pressed flowers to a more contemporary level - not your old Victorian style - over 250 floral designs available.
    Crafts, Nature Crafts
  • Corbyscats

    Lisa Corby
    My fat cat and dog characters speak to animal lovers. All my designs started out as freehand paintings. They just need more exposure! (#day job)
    Design, Textiles
  • Kickety Split

    Tracey Johnston
    Kickety Split is a children's lifestyle apparel brand manufacturing and selling clothing that supports and encourages healthy, active kids.
    Style, Fashion