The unsightly plastic paddle boards and paddle boats on rivers and lakes today, are a far cry from Canadian luxury water sports company, Beau Lake. Blending a vintage aesthetic with high performance, Beau Lake is where nostalgia meets elegance, every aspect of the design, a work of art.
Their product line includes hand-finished, paddleboards, runabout-styled human and electric-powered boats, and a reimagined classic dock chair. But like they say, this is just the beginning.
Beau Lake designs products to enhance your waterside experience. Whether you’re at the cottage or beyond. Their belief: “water is luxury” and therefore it’s our duty to protect and share it. It’s why they give a part of their profit towards providing clean water in developing countries and cleaning up shorelines at home.
At the helm of the company are Paul Lavoie, Co-founder of TAXI agency and Lee Kline, award-winning designer – Chanel, Dior, Four Seasons.
Years ago, Paul Lavoie sat on his dock on a pristine lake in the Laurentians when he noticed a yellow blot on the landscape. It was a plastic pedal boat moored across the lake. The Jell-O equivalent of dessert. Not natural. A quick Google search revealed the pedal boat category was uniformly garish, squarish, and distinctly Tupperware-ish. And further investigation into waterside leisure products revealed that, like Jell-O and Tupperware, not much had changed in decades. A marketer by trade, Paul recognized an opportunity, but it would have to wait. He was co-founder of TAXI, the Canadian advertising agency with offices across Canada, New York and Europe.
Eventually Paul sold TAXI to the global communications group WPP and had more time to spend at the lake. The yellow blot was still there, and now Paul could focus.
Paul had lost touch with an old friend, Lee Kline, but in the interim Lee had developed a paddleboard he called “The Muskoka” for its teak and holy veneer deck reminiscent of Muskoka runabouts. Lee, an expert in manufacturing and composites, had developed a unique method to encapsulate wood veneer against the elements, that allowed a vintage look with zero maintenance. Lee wondered if Paul would like a board for the lake? Paul’s answer was immediate, “I’ll take two.” But he realized he had spoken too fast. He flew to meet Lee the following day. He just had one question, “Do you want to keep making paddleboards in your garage, or help build a global luxury brand?” They shook hands and Beau Lake was born.
Counting names like Norman Jaskolka, President of ALDO Group International, Karyn Barsa, previously the CFO of Patagonia, David McAusland, Senior Partner at McCarthy Tétrault, and Todd Saunders the architect of the Fogo Island Inn, among their group of advisors who bring a tremendous amount of experience in the domains of distribution, social responsibility, community, and design to the brand.
It’s no surprise that the beautifully crafted products, have caught the eye of established luxury resorts like the Four Seasons and Waldorf Astoria. Tapping into another potential market, the company is in the process of developing a program for retirement homes and resorts. Partnerships being vital to brand awareness, Beau Lake is also in discussion with a major luxury car manufacturer and European fashion brand.
To learn more about Beau Lake, GLORY spoke to Co-Founder and CEO Paul Lavoie.
You have some impressive names on your advisory board like Fashion Pioneer, Joseph Mimran and Co-founder of Umbra, Paul Rowan, what value have those names brought to the brand?
No doubt, Joe and Paul (Rowan) are legendary. They have created brands and businesses that put design front and center using instinct, skill and experience. Joe and Paul immediately understood the importance of aesthetic and performance for our products, but also understand our ambition to become a global leader in luxury waterside experience. The brand aspires to include boating accessories, fashion, and lifestyle. Their guidance as we grow will be crucial, and if their implication so far is any measure, it will be a lot of fun, too.
Who is your ideal customer?
We cater to the growing luxury market, skewed slightly male and who embrace the trend toward authenticity and a nostalgia for simpler times. Our customers are educated and have developed an eco-consciousness and appreciation for good design. Today, luxury has more to do with the experience itself than the actual asset. Contrary to traditional spending habits, the younger luxury buyer is defining the category preferring to spend it on experiences and lifestyle enhancing products. With increasingly stringent government legislated eco-requirements we also see the opportunity to be the go-to provider of an environment friendly waterside experience.
Where can you find Beau Lake products currently?
Currently you can find Beau Lake products throughout Ontario in multiple Muskoka retailers, in the Kawarthas, Georgian Bay and Toronto. Beau Lake is also available in the Hamptons, New York, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Malibu, Vancouver, Kelowna, Aspen, Bahamas and we are always open online at beaulake.com or contact us firstname.lastname@example.org where someone will be sure to get back to you.
Where do you source the materials?
Our wood components and materials are sourced from domestic and global companies that adhere to the FSC standards and practices. Wherever possible our synthetic components use recycled material. Our flagship product, the electric boat is made in Canada.
What are some of the design inspirations?
We are unashamedly nostalgic. Our own best lake memories are days that start with fresh coffee on the dock and end with friends around the fire. When getting dressed up means pulling on a swimsuit, and getting around means – of course –jumping in a boat. Those kinds of reveries can only be populated with boats reminiscent of vintage runabouts, and the shapes and materials of mid-century design. Design was still close to nature then, wood, metal, canvas, and so natural materials inspire us,and, we think, fit best in the landscape. We also look back to the craftsmanship of bygone eras with tremendous respect and look to emulate that kind of quality in everything we make.
How do Beau Lake products enhance a consumer’s waterside experience?
Beau Lake products are at the intersection of design and performance to deliver a waterside experience that is as beautiful to look at, as it is fun and easy. It is common to invest in a beautiful country home, outdoor furniture, landscaping, but at the water’s edge it is as though design has floated away.
The common belief is that in order to be easy to carry and store, and easy to maintain, waterside products had to be formed plastic. Not so. Beau Lake Products are beautifully designed to recall classic vintage and mid-century design. Quality and durability is assured through craftsmanship and materials. The waterside is a source of so much joy, but it’s also a fragile place. Beau Lake products cater to an active lifestyle that allows you to connect with yourself and with nature. Eco friendly paddleboards, pedal boats and electric boats are silent and create no wake. And what’s not to feel good about products made in Canada?
How are Beau Lake products designed to be eco-friendly?
We produce our products as eco efficiently as possible but most importantly by their use. They slow you down and connect you with nature. They are electric or human powered and don’t create any noise or gas pollution. And a percentage of our profits support water charities.
At Beau Lake we consider that we are in the water business. Without it, clean, available, and accessible, we have no customer. And so, we have a responsibility to participate in protecting our shareholder’s investment. We also believe that every business should make it their business to help protect the planet and improve quality of all our lives on it.
Why are One Drop and Surfrider the organizations you decided to partner with?
Beau Lake’s mantra is, “The water is calling.” It is a call to play in the water, but also to take care of this precious resource. We consider water a luxury everyone should share. Whether it is providing clean water to developing countries or cleaning up the shoreline, both One Drop and Surfrider are committed to sharing the benefits of water.