Main Street Business


By Published On: December 1st, 2023

When Emily Van Steenbergen’s husband Tyler opened a chiropractic office on Main Street in Millerton, NY, he only needed half the allotted space for his practice. Emily decided they should do something with the extra space that aligned with the needs of his clients. So she created a wellness store and brought in natural body products, supplements, palo santo, beeswax candles, soaps, organic chocolate, and even greeting cards and artwork. 

“Tyler has access to the best vitamins and supplements, all made in America, many in Connecticut and Massachusetts, from small independent makers, so I thought, why not make these available to his clients? These, along with the natural body products, are items that I’ve been using for years and that I’ve always loved. All the products are of the highest quality, with simple ingredients, and nothing bad for you in them.” 

The wellness store proved successful and Emily felt there was room for growth in her vision of bringing more natural products to Millerton. “When a new space became available, I didn’t even know what I was going to do with it, but I knew I could make it something beautiful.”

A niche market

In part because she and Tyler were new parents, Emily decided to open a children’s store. “There are so many new parents in the area, and so many people who just moved here are having young children. I knew there would be a market for a children’s store. I also had my own baby at this time and was really trying to expose him to, and surround him with, high-quality and non-toxic toys and clothing, and that’s what I wanted to bring to the store.”

Although not knowing much about children’s toys, Emily knew she didn’t like plastic because of the chemicals it often has and the bacteria it can harbor. Since bacteria cannot grow on wooden surfaces, she thought having toys made primarily from wood would be perfect for little kids who are putting things in their mouths all the time. She also “loves searching for things that are unique and that not a lot of people have.”

With these values in mind, Emily started Treefort Toys & Gifts with alderwood and beechwood toys made by Bajo in Poland and Haba in Germany. The wood is dyed with different types of nontoxic dyes and finished with natural oils. The toys include wooden puzzles, animal figures, and blocks geared to children aged zero to ten. “I love wooden toys because they encourage open-ended play: there’s no right or wrong, just a million different options for creativity and exploration.” Treefort also has hypoallergenic stuffed animals, dolls, rattles, watercolor paints, crayons, and modeling beeswax. Many of the items are handmade, and all are made from non-toxic organic materials. 

Taking it a step further

Emily then expanded the store to include clothing. “I originally started with clothes for children up to two years old, but so many Indian Mountain School parents were asking if I would have older kids clothing that I decided to go for it. Now I have clothes for children up to 11 years old.” 

Treefort carries Serendipity clothing from Denmark. “I love Serendipity clothing because it has color but they are neutral tones – the shirts, sweaters, and basics can be for boys or girls.” All the clothing is made from organic cotton and is GOTS (global organic textile standard) certified. This means that all the fabric is grown according to strict ecological and toxicological guidelines without the use of synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. 

“I only have things in the store that I would put on my own child and would let my own child play with. I know that the prices are a little higher, but the pieces are meant to be heirlooms. They will last forever and be in your family for a lifetime. My mission is to offer the highest quality products for children.” •

Treefort Toys & Gifts is located at 24 Main Street in Millerton, NY.