By Lucy Rizzetto
If you spend any amount of time on the water, you likely already understand that you belong to a community of kindred spirits. Whether you’re a solo kayaker or a weekend boater, you are one of us. Life on the water holds a special kind of magic, and lasting memories are always made with the community that comes with all of the great water-based activities.
Five-Eau was born from our love of the water. Whether it’s sitting at the water’s edge to reflect, paddling a glass surface or a raging rapid, casting a line, towing the toys or just floating along to take it all in—whatever fills your sails, so to speak—we love life on the water.
Community is integral to our core beliefs as a brand. When we launched Five-Eau, it was with the goal of creating flexible work opportunities for our teenage daughter, who at the time was too heavily involved in extracurricular athletics to meet the scheduling needs of most employers. Strangely enough, the idea of a digital home-based business that could fuel creativity and provide entrepreneurial experience seemed like an easy choice. Ironically, it was during the initial months of the COVID-19 lockdown that we discovered the previously unconsidered option of moving from a solely digital platform to a physical store in our lakeside village of Erieau, Ontario. Certainly, this was the inverse of what many businesses experienced during this time.
Two years have already flown by. We now have a flourishing digital presence and a thriving home-base location that we are slowly but surely renovating to accommodate new offerings. This past summer, we opened a second physical location in Port Stanley, Ontario—another bustling lakeside destination.
During that first summer, our fifteen-year-old daughter Keiran was our sole employee at our physical store. With nothing open at the time for youth in our area, we found that many of Keiran’s friends wanted to volunteer at the store. They were thrilled to get the volunteer hours they needed to graduate high school, while gaining experience that they could add to their resume. Just like the rest of us, they too craved social interaction. We knew we had a special space and group of young people on our hands when we watched their excitement in greeting customers, their easy flexibility in rolling with the needed public health changes, and their constant drive to find ways to make it all fun (MANY tiktoks were made *insert eye roll*). Many of these amazing youth have stayed with us and are now in paid positions. We are proud that Five-Eau has created opportunities for them in the same capacity as we originally envisioned for our daughter. These student athletes are able to pursue their activities and train throughout the year, knowing that we will work around their scheduling needs and that they will have a busy but fun summer job to return to each year. We currently make all of our sweaters and t-shirt designs in-house and love the pride this creates for our entire team, who are all part of this process. They enjoy spotting Five-Eau across the country and in new and distant locations now that we can adventure again.
Our passion for the water has found its way into our designs in many respects, from simple design features like the classic Great Lakes silhouette to our Lake Effect design, which celebrates the flow of water through the Great Lakes to the St. Lawrence. And, of course, our many fishing designs. Our current favourites are the sunset and horizon designs in all of the colours that the sky and lake can create together. We’ll take a gorgeous sunset anywhere, anytime, but there is nothing quite as special as a sunset over the water. Our passion projects are also an important component of Five-Eau and we are proud to support our community through our Station 14 and It Takes a Village items.
Station 14 is our village fire detachment and it is staffed entirely by a volunteer team. The Erieau firefighters are a committed group at an incredibly busy station. These men and women carry all the regular demands and responsibilities of other full-time jobs, knowing they will drop everything in their day-to-day lives to respond to calls for Station 14. Unlike many other stations in our area, our Station 14 firefighters have extensive water and ice training (the fire hall is literally waterfront property on the beautiful Rondeau Bay), and they often respond to water rescue calls on Lake Erie. We are honoured to take on the creation of the Station 14 items to support their community fundraising activities. Proceeds from these items are used by the Station 14 firefighters to contribute directly to the community through activities such as the local July 1st fireworks, as well as a variety of special holiday activities for children in the village.
It Takes a Village is our other labour of love. Proceeds from this project go directly to supporting children. Part of these funds are donated to the Erieau Community Association for the ongoing upgrade and maintenance of the wonderful Accessible Playground at Erieau beach, which ensures that all local and visiting children have a space to play. The other portion is sent to the Children’s Treatment Center to support their work in helping children learn and grow.
We have had a wild ride these last few years with Five-Eau and we’re beyond excited to discover what the future holds. We have had a blast participating in cottage and boating industry shows, and are thrilled with the new connections we have made there. We have added retailers who are excited to carry Five-Eau in their shops, and we have connected with industry organizations such as Club APRIL Marine, whose members enjoy a discount.
Cheers to another great boating season!
Welcome to the Five-Eau family!