Made in Vermont: Thuja

Published: Sep. 18, 2023 at 6:59 PM EDT
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WILLISTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Even though they’re tucked in a Williston business park, Thuja employees work among trees.

“The name itself comes from the botanical name for an Eastern white cedar, which is a Thuja occidentalis,” says owner Henry Sengle. He explains that this company is all about playing outside and having the perfect clothes to do so.

“It’s really really cool, too, when we try to make something new or we get a new fabric, to make something out of it and immediately go out and test it out,” he says.

Sengle is at the root of the outdoor clothing business but has a background in outdoor recreation. About six years ago, he stumbled across a beloved fabric online, which he had seen other big outdoor clothing companies use for garments. That’s when the lightbulb kicked on.

“I have a compulsive need to make things, so I always have a project going,” he laughs. After six months of trial and error, he wound up making what’s now known as their signature Burrow hoodie.

“But it was very much just a project for myself, but being in the outdoor industry, really quickly friends and co-workers noticed it and liked it, wanted me to make them one,” he explains. Soon after came requests from friends of friends, and then strangers, all lining up for Sengle’s handmade hoodies.

“I reached a point where either I had to take a step back from it or commit to it more,” he says.

He went with the latter. In 2021, he quit his job to open Thuja full time with the help of friends Jake and Kim. This small shop turns out what Sengle calls, “the perfect mid-layer.” Sengle says these are best for skiing, but the Polartec Power Grid fleece is versatile enough to be worn year-round, wicking moisture while locking in heat.

And the fun part? These hand-sewn hoodies are all highly customizable on their website, with fun pocket prints sometimes designed by local artists. They’re up for grabs online, or at the Outdoor Gear Exchange in Burlington. The Burrow hoodie will set you back about $120.

“I think we have nine colors, so 81 combinations. And then you can pick out a pocket pattern or solid color, and I think we have 20 or so, give or take,” he says.

Sengle says he initially made these hoodies because he couldn’t find the perfect piece for his skiing, hiking, biking and beyond. But, the sentimental value is what makes them special.

“It feels a lot better wearing stuff out in nature that was made right here,” he says.

Sewn among the trees, to be worn among the trees.