Five years ago today, Burgeon Outdoor hired its first employee, signed the lease for our Lincoln location, and then promptly went hiking. Justin Walsh (our first employee) and I stopped off at Half Baked and Fully Brewed, grabbed a couple sandwiches, and headed to Lonesome Lake.

Justin thought it was a bit nutty to go hiking on our first day, but while we sat by the lakeside, we worked on our grand scheme to become the preeminent outdoor brand in the world in a matter of a few short years. It was a great plan, aspirational, but grounded in reality, sanguine yet tempered, aggressive, but confident.

As you might imagine, many things got in the way. First - and most importantly, we did not know what we were doing. Ten years in footwear does not make one an apparel genius. Second, neither of us knew how to sew, let alone know how to run a sewing operation. Third, making apparel in the US, especially in a rural environment, is not easy. On a difficulty scale of 1-10, it’s a 15, maybe a 16. Fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, well, you get the idea. We were well in over our heads.

Like many people chasing a dream, we probably believed the dream a little too much - and who could blame us? I still believe that making outdoor apparel in the places that inspire its use - and giving back to these places is a top 1% idea.

June was consumed by preparing our space, tearing down walls, painting the duct work, and putting in the floor. We also hired our first three stitchers. In July we started training the team (and ourselves). Before our most important week of training, one stitcher quit - and of course, she was our most experienced stitcher.  Another setback - but also promise as August brought another new employee who had over 30 years of experience.

Justin Raising the Sign


September brought more progress - albeit slowly. Our mid September target launch date came and went. Perhaps I was a little distracted. In late September my  wife and I welcomed our second child. We finally launched (with only three products) the second week of November - about two months behind schedule and two products short.

Things went well at first. People were captivated by our space - there was a production floor with sewing machines, cutwork, and loose threads right next to our retail operation. People were curious and they would walk in to check us out.  December was also a good month for us as the increased foot traffic around the holidays really brought people into town. 

January, however, was tough. February was not much better. Things were pretty grim - but we believed - and so did everyone on our team (all four of us!).

Then the pandemic hit. We had to close our doors to customers. The end looked near. We had lots of overhead, no customers (our business was 95% in-person at that time), and the prospects were pretty grim. Justin had the idea that we should start making masks for those in need. Quickly, word spread that we were making masks and giving them away.

Then something happened. People started to understand we were a different type of company. They saw that our mission and values were important to us, even when we were vulnerable.

People started buying from us to support what we were doing. People saw the value of actually making things here in New Hampshire. A local supply chain became an asset. Word spread, quickly.

The more people interacted with us, the more they liked what they saw. The enthusiasm over masks faded quickly, but the ability to watch someone make a product right before your very eyes – that still brings in the crowds - and we hope it always will.

People saw we were different. Sure our products were more expensive, but people could see the craftsmanship in each one, the skill it takes to make a ‘simple’ hoodie, and all the machines needed to do it right. And more importantly, they could witness it in person.

People discovered what marketers or salespeople would call our Unique Selling Point or “USP.” You have probably heard something along the lines of ‘we have a really unique value proposition’ or something similar. Fancy jargon for what differentiates your brand, but rarely are USPs truly unique. They are usually just a compilation of things you do slightly differently than the way others do it.

At Burgeon our USP is unique. We exist to create a better tomorrow for the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  

We make our products here. Right here. Right in front of you (well at least during stitching hours). We are the only brand in the world making its products in the White Mountains of New Hampshire for the sole mission of creating a better tomorrow for these mountain communities economically, environmentally, and socially. No other company does what we do. You can measure the distance from our stitching floor in Lincoln to our retail floor in feet - it’s about 20. For our products made in Gorham, it's about 50 miles.  

Studio Image 2024-06-10

This is why we hire locals to make our products. This is why we have adopted three trails in the White Mountains, use environmentally friendly materials and processes, and why we donate 5% of our sales to our community and environmental efforts.  We create an impact right here in the White Mountains. We created this positive impact yesterday, we are doing it today, and we will do it tomorrow - and the day after that, onward for as long as we exist..

Our journey over the past five years has been one of trying to stay focused on this mission. Sometimes we do it really well, and sometimes we do not - but we always learn. Our struggles have made us more resilient and a better company.

While Burgeon may not be a household name in the outdoor industry (at least not yet), that is not our goal.  We are focused on our mission - creating a better tomorrow for this place we call home. 

Creating economic opportunity for our employees and neighbors, being an environmental steward, not only by using environmentally friendly materials and practices, but adopting trails and supporting others who do. We contribute to local organizations such as PemiSAR, LakesSAR, New England Disabled Sports, Linwood Ambulance, local ski teams, and many more.

Pemi Sar members

Over the past five years we have made some outstanding products. Our Flume Baselayer has been named the Best Overall Hiking Shirt by Field & Stream not once, not twice, but thrice!  Our Highlander Hoodie is rated as the ‘best warmth to weight’ ratio in the market (wait until you see our Alpha Hoodie this Fall!).  Our Sunseeker Hoodie is hands down (at least in my humble opinion) the best sun hoodie out there for the active outdoor enthusiast.  The Tuckerman Hardshell Jacket is the most breathable waterproof jacket in the market (probably why they are sold out in so many sizes!).

But it is not about the gear.  Burgeon’s mission is not to create the world’s finest outdoor apparel.  It is an output - and one of which we are very proud of to say the very least.  Our mission is to create a brighter tomorrow for this special part of the world.  A place we call home and many of our customers consider to be their home away from home, their happy place.

Just under two years ago, we leased the production facility of Wild Things Gear in Gorham who was folding up their operation there.  We rented the building, retained just under half of their employees, and expanded our production capabilities.  

We now make all of our Tuckerman Products there, but also our Campfire Collection as well as many of our Highlander and Flume products. Just under six months ago, we purchased the building and planted our flag permanently in Gorham. We’re still working on getting our signs up, but that is another story.

Our Gorham facility is a great source of pride to Burgeon. This is a great example of how we are making an impact. We are employing people in Gorham.  We are invested in the local economy, we adopted a trail just outside of town and we are looking to do more of it (if anyone is looking, we are hiring for our production team there!). This is our mission in action.

Flume and Tuckerman Shot

Over the past five years we have had tremendous growth. Part of it is due to our sub-optimal beginning and the pandemic, but it is also due to the dedication of our team - and especially our loyal customers. What we are doing is really challenging.

We are small, we are undersized, but we are committed. We will persevere. We care about this place.  This place is special to us and we want to make sure it is special for generations to come.  As I look back on five years, it is extraordinary to me to see the obstacles we navigated and the achievements we have made.

At Burgeon we envision a world full of prosperous mountain communities. By prosperous we mean economically resilient, environmentally rich, and close knit (no pun intended) socially. We see communities full of life, happiness, families, and a love of the great outdoors.

Over this coming and the next five years, we aim to grow our production teams in both Gorham and Lincoln, expand our trail maintenance efforts, exponentially grow our community support, and expand our technical capabilities. We want to continue making real progress each and every day, month, year of creating a better tomorrow for the White Mountains of New Hampshire - and beyond.

Pemi View

The last five years are in the past.  While today is a day to acknowledge and celebrate our success, we are focused on the future. It’s highly unlikely that we’ll continue to grow and improve at the same pace over the next five years as we have in our first five years.  Then again, five years ago we did not know what we were doing, had to survive a global pandemic, and we are still standing – so you’re saying there’s a chance?

For all of you who have supported Burgeon over the years, thank you.  You are why we are here today.  We hope you will support us on the next five years of our journey - and please bring some friends and family – It has been a great ride and it’s only going to get better!

Burgeon's First Year

Burgeon's Turns Two

The Trek - Year Four Starts Now

Year Five

 Shop All Burgeon Products


Burgeon Outdoor was founded in 2019.  Burgeon’s mission is to create a better tomorrow for mountain communities, such as Lincoln, and Gorham, New Hampshire where they have operations. Burgeon proudly manufactures its premium outdoor apparel in Lincoln, and Gorham, NH.  By manufacturing locally, Burgeon creates year round jobs in the White Mountains.  5% of Burgeon’s sales support its community and environmental efforts. To learn more, please visit our studio at the Village Shops in Lincoln, our website or call us at 603-745-7123.

Leave a comment

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published.