Take a Deep Breath with Thomas Henderson Jr.
When talking with 26-year-old Thomas Henderson Jr. , you can immediately understand why he brings such a deep sense of passion to everything he touches. His most recent venture, Detour Marketplace, an outdoor experience center based on the principles of sustainability, mindfulness, and creativity emerged from Thomas' multi-year battle with substance addiction. In the coming years, Thomas plans for Detour to become a place teaching the ideals that helped him in his recovery from addiction, a strong relationship with the outdoors, and yourself. He also plans for Detour to bring together creatives and environmental activists to start a movement of sustainability in art and fashion. The YMM team had the opportunity to speak with Thomas about his recent clothing collaboration with Absent, the future of Detour Marketplace, and the importance of the outdoors in mental health and creativity.
YMM: Name, age, where are you from?
My name is Thomas, I’m 26 and I’m from South Carolina
YMM: After your battle with addiction, how did you find yourself back in Los Angeles?
I came back to LA because I wanted to get my shit back together, I really had this fire under me at that point. I came to one of my friends because I didn’t have the financial means and basically said, let's get a piece of land out in Joshua Tree and I’ll just live on it. No running water, no bathroom, nothing. It was great living out there, I got a job at a local bakery and would start my days the same every day, it gave me structure. I would wake up in the trailer, put my clothes on in the car, and go to the bakery. Then after work, I would just go straight from the bakery into the national park and go on a hike or run or just go sit. After like 8 or 9 months out there, a couple of my friends from Lyrical (Lemonade) started inviting me out of the desert to come to help out with their videos as a PA. I'd always been around the Lyrical team for a while, but I never really did anything with them. It was good for me to be able to be out there with all of them because I went from being so isolated in the desert to this really strong community.
YMM: Tell us about your relationship with the outdoors. How has nature helped you in your recovery?
I go outside every day. I love being outside, but when you really go for a long time, even for five days and you're in the mountains, you might not see anyone for a couple of days. It's this crazy reality where you can't escape your thoughts, whatever emotions are there, you’re going to allow yourself to feel them because that’s the only thing there. It's crazy though, I feel safer up, by myself on a mountain than in my car. A lot of other people don’t feel that way because you have to accept that feeling, "I feel safe, but I really have to be on my shit."
YMM: What kind of connection do you feel when you get outside?
Yeah, there's real science behind this called environmental psychology. For some reason, America doesn’t study or teach it much. Basically, it’s how you treat the Earth is a direct reflection of how you treat yourself. It all goes hand and hand. If you’re in the city all day or all month, you need moments where you can step back and feel the earth. As I get older I don't want to be in cities, I want to be outside and bring people to these environments where you can really connect.
YMM: What makes you feel most connected to the outdoors?
In order to feel connected to the earth you have to connect deeply with yourself first, which for me came through time spent outside by myself and then later on incorporating certain breathwork techniques to further sink me into the present moment. My breathwork class at Open led by my friend Lihi has been one of the most important aspects of my recovery and creative process the last year to help me reach this point.
"If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago. If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos." - Edward O. Wilson
YMM: Do you have a daily routine?
I start my day with some breathing exercises, a stretch, and a little daily meditation. Then I just immediately put on workout clothes and go figure it out.
YMM: Are you training for anything right now?
Right now training for me is for my first marathon this summer and higher altitude mountains. Later this year I will be on Kilimanjaro with a group of people hosted by Detour and hopefully with multiple sponsors to raise money for a good cause. It will be powerful to connect with a group of people working towards the same goal.
YMM: We need a Detour Marathon one day.
Oh yeah, I've got a full deck built out for it, it's gonna happen one day. It’ll be a meditation race, one with no winners.
YMM: How does this all tie into Detour Marketplace? Is it going to be a marketplace of just products or will you sell services eventually?
Detour will be services and products. The marketplace is in the name because I want it to be something where I'm bringing people together. Creatively collaborating on ideas and different ways we can make things organically or upcycle things like trash into products that are durable and can exist for a long time. It's really about bringing people together in person, I've already done the online thing but coming up I'm really focused on hosting these in-person experiences.
YMM: Tell us more about the experiences.
Detour is a huge step because being able to host these experiences will allow me to bring together creative people and introduce them to a new way of thinking about nature. These experiences will enhance creativity and make the participants closer to themselves and the earth. Eventually, I'm hoping it will create an impact, everyone flipping the switch and changing how they do things to be more sustainable. There will be meditation and breath work and mindfulness involved but the main part of them will be bringing in different people who are already doing great things with sustainability. I want to bring together all these people and collaborate with them while working on different ways to scale up what we're doing. At the same time, we'll be measuring the impact that's created for everything that we do.
YMM: What is the guiding concept behind Detour?
Detour is a real-life experience. We're in this world where we feel like we have to grow shit through Instagram or TikTok but really in 5 years that shit could not matter at all. I would rather put my energy into talking to 15 or 20 people every day. What we're doing will be reflected online but I don't want people to be just waiting online for what we do next. It's so important to me to make this a real thing. Detour is really about the connection to the Earth and doing things for the Earth.
"Detour's brand mission is a multi-faceted initiative to implement methods of reducing both water and material waste, reusing discarded materials, and recycling whenever possible throughout the entire process clothing endures before the customer ever sees it. We are investing in disruptive techniques to greatly reduce the negative impact that clothing has on our planet, all over the globe."
YMM: How have you been going about these clothing collaborations? What's next?
So it all comes from this poem I wrote and every month it's a new line from the poem. The title of the poem is Healing in Progress. The first line reads, Take a deep breath and after that, There will be light, and then Disconnect to reconnect. Each of these lines represents or will represent a collaboration I did during that month. So for example, with There will be light, any collaboration I do should bring a feeling of light or hope to people. My first clothing collection was Healing in Progress where I screen printed that phrase over vintage pieces of clothing and for the second line, I collaborated with Parker Jeppsen and Absent to bring a series of 100% hemp shirts printed with the theme of Take a Deep Breath.
YMM: Speaking of Hemp, What is the importance of sustainability in fashion?
Like I was saying it's really about the connection and how everything goes back to the earth. A normal T-shirt just made with conventional cotton will just end up in the landfill at the end of its lifecycle. I think at the end of the lifecycle of anything we create, it needs to go back and be a part of the earth. There are a lot of good people doing work to combat this waste but there are not enough voices behind it. That's where I feel Detour is a really powerful tool because like while we're going to do these marketplace experiences and collaborating, we can work with people and try to figure out how to take the waste they make and reuse it. Opening up these conversations to more people and being a light in the world is really important right now. I heard a quote by Brian Eno recently that I think summarizes this concept really well, he said “There are so many people working on these goals of sustainability but we don’t know each other yet” I want Detour and myself to be the bridge that connects all these people.
Keep up with Detour Marketplace on Instagram @detourmarketplace
Words by Evan Heiges
Photos by Sean Defaria
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