Written By: Jayme Face
Shawne Merriman, better known as Lights Out, showed us what he could do on the field and now he’s showing us what he could do with apparel! We caught up with Shawne to find out more about his brand, Lights Out, and what else he has been up to lately!
upfrontNY: Can you tell us about your clothing line, Lights Out?
Shawne Merriman: Yeah! Our Fall has been crazy! We actually just did a big deal with Tillys, the clothing store, and DTLR, Downtown Locker Room, which is huge in the mid-Atlantic area. I’m really into MMA and I’m really into NASCAR. We have partnerships with Bellator, an MMA league, which is up there with UFC, their fights are on Spike T.V. I ended up signing fighters over the course of this past year. So, what we try to do is make something that is fashionable for MMA fighters and fashionable for the crossover of the NASCAR world because those are two big demographics. I thought if we captured some of the coolness of it we could really do a nice job.
upfrontNY: What got you involved with Bellator MMA and NASCAR in the first place?
Shawne Merriman: Well, with Bellator, we were working on a partnership for almost a year. I got a bunch of ring space with Lights Out on top of all the cages. I became the Bellator Ambassador for the whole year. We started to sign fighters for the Lights Out brand. I look for these up and coming fighters to not only sign to the brand because that’s easy, but being a former athlete I know what it takes to be dedicated to the sport. I’m looking for guys with like-minded mind sets that want to get after it because Lights Out is a cool, tough guy’s rant; it’s Lights Out! It’s self-explanatory and when you think about the brand you think about being impactful and powerful. That’s what Lights Out means.
upfrontNY: What makes this line different than other athletic wear lines? What is the design process like?
Shawne Merriman: For us, we have what we call our knock out logo. The knock out face logo is a face with two X’s with the mouth frowning on it because that’s like you’ve been knocked out. It doesn’t necessarily mean physically knock someone out, but people are knocking things out in life daily. It’s about Monday comes around and you’ve got to knock out your week. You wake up and it’s time to go get it, you’ve got to knock out your day. We wanted to make clothes that show it. We wanted it to have meaning, to have impact behind the clothes, but also be cool. That’s what we really hang our hats on.
upfrontNY: Some might say why not just retire and relax, what made you start a whole new business venture?
Shawne Merriman: You know, football for me that’s how I got the nickname Lights Out because I knocked out four kids in one game my sophomore year in high school. That name kind of stuck with me, but Lights Out is meaningful. It’s such an impactful word, depending on which way you use it, but it works in everyday life. So, for me football is what put the Lights Out name and brand on the national level, but now this is what I wake up and do. I don’t study the New England Patriots anymore. I don’t get up and work out and get ready to face Tom Brady, like I get ready to work in the world of apparel and that’s what I’m out there doing.
upfrontNY: Do you think this apparel would have helped you as an athlete if you had it then?
Shawne Merriman: Yeah. Well, I’ve always been fashionable and I wanted to be cool. You want to wear something that really shows who you are, I’m Lights Out. I wish I knew as much as I do now back then because I would’ve really gotten behind it. I would’ve started making a clothes line that I’m making now for when I was playing. This fall we have hoodies and fleeces. We’re bringing hats into the mix for the first time. It really took the brand to a different level.
upfrontNY: When will the fall line be ready for purchase?
Shawne Merriman: It is ready on lightsoutbrand.com and it will be in stores at the end of September.
upfrontNY: You went to the University of Maryland, what did you major in and what would you have done if you didn’t go into professional football?
Shawne Merriman: I majored in criminal justice because I always wanted to do something in the FBI or the CIA. Also, if I wasn’t playing football I would have taken business classes. Our business classes were actually in the same time period that practice was so I couldn’t take the business classes.
upfrontNY: What do you think of the Chargers move to L.A.?
Shawne Merriman: I’m enjoying it. I’ve been to the preseason games already. I’m actually on a pre and post show on ABC7 out here for the Chargers. I’m enjoying still being around it and being around the guys. One thing when you retire you miss the locker room. The most important thing you miss is being around the guys so now it gives me a chance to work with the team again on the media side. Also, being able to stay in touch with the organization is kind of a breath of fresh air for me.
upfrontNY: I know you touched upon your involvement with NASCAR a little bit, but I saw that you are also trying to get kids more involved so that there is more diversity in the sport, can you tell us more about that?
Shawne Merriman: Yeah. My driver, Jesse Iwuji, is one of two African Americans in the sport. He drives in the K&N Pro-Series. It’s been fun because it’s an opportunity that I hope and NASCAR hopes to give minority kids to be involved in the sport. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be involved in it. I grew up in a very underprivileged neighborhood and we would never have had the opportunity to go and do what we’re doing now. So, what I’m trying to do is bridge the gap and help some of the NASCAR efforts to bridge the gap.
Favorite Fast Five
- Workout– Circuit Training
- Food– Pasta
- Footballplayer -Lawrence Taylor
- Quote– “Finish Strong!”
- Movie– Life with Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence
UpfrontNY: Is there anything else you’d like to let our readers know?
Shawne Merriman: Yeah, the new line for fall is going to be amazing! It’s coming in September. We will hit 150 stores in total, this is next level! Just be on the lookout for the fall season for Lights Out!