While enjoying a day of boating on Candlewood Lake, Barbara Hollister had an idea…
Inspired by the tranquility of the lake, she envisioned starting an apparel company and calling it Lake Patriot.
Determined to have the first line of t-shirts made early on in the season, Barb found a local print shop to create them.
A few weeks later, several boaters at a local marina inquired about where she and her family got their unique patriotic lake tees’ they were sporting and wanted to buy them. Lake Patriot quickly began to take off.
Barb registered her first trademark and was officially open for business as an LLC just ten months ago.
“This was the beginning of my specialty clothing and apparel line for men and women. I think we capture the casual, fun lake living lifestyle that I enjoy so much with my own family. It’s all about good lake vibes, rest and relaxation, and finding an inner peace on the water,” said Barb.
Candlewood Lake is the company’s first major test market. “It’s important to us that we ‘make it’ in our own area first and have a presence in all of the lake towns,” shared Barb.
One of her original “classic” tees features Candlewood Lake within the Lake Patriot graphic.
“Naturally, what I think we’re doing is pretty special. Our designs embrace the lake lifestyle, and at the same time, we’re hoping to unite people. If you love boating, swimming, jet skiing, wake surfing, waterskiing, paddle boarding, or just floating on the lake, you are a Lake Patriot.”
Ron Hollister, who helps his founding CEO wife with new business development, said, “we’re a patriotic family and it’s nice to see that many other boaters are, too. We love the whole culture.”
The company name, Lake Patriot, conveys a deep sense of patriotism. “It’s very important to us that our product line, and anything we source – like artwork production, fabric, and dyes – are, as much as possible, made in America.”
All Lake Patriot and American Lake Patriot tees are in the $20 range and come in a nice variety of primary colors, earth tones, and pastels. Long sleeve jerseys for $28 and hoodies around $40 are also available.
Right now, most of the sales are online, company direct at LakePatriot.com.
As soon as doors open again to the public, Echo Bay Marina in Brookfield – the first local business to carry the lake-themed clothing line in its retail store – will carry more of the latest styles: “God, Country, Lake” and “Unsalted & Nauti,” a play on the word “nautical” with a fish hook letter graphic.
Once summer is in full swing, Lake Patriot plans to sell its clothing and apparel in select stores located in each of the five Candlewood Lake towns.
Since Its Founding, Lake Patriot Gives Back to the Community
For Barb, it’s essential that Lake Patriot gives back. “So many people are impacted by the Coronavirus Pandemic and are experiencing sickness, job loss, anxiety, and depression. Our lives have changed dramatically, and we need to help each other out.”
In response, she has set up a fund where – for the duration of the pandemic – 15% of net profit from the sale of a monthly featured product, will go directly to local boaters who may be having a hard time filling up their boats with gas or paying everyday bills.
“Candlewood Lake has such a calming effect for so many people. We want those who are struggling to still be able to enjoy it.”
The Candlewood Lake Patriot line is the first to be featured this month.
At the time of the company’s founding, Barb already set up a fund where proceeds go to first responders.
An additional 5% of direct sales will continue to go to non-profit organizations that support the treatment of underserved first responders who suffer from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and other mental conditions.
“It’s personal for us. My father was a career firefighter. Ron was, too. He was injured in a big fire and needed to retire early,” shared Barb.
As the company grows, the plan is to donate a larger amount across the board and include funding for traumatized military heroes as well.
In the future, this home-based company plans to also make a clothing line for children.
To get the word out, the Hollisters recently attended the Danbury Holiday Gift Expo at WCSU and the Hartford Boat Show. Beyond the Candlewood Lake area, retailers in Lake George, NY, Lake of the Ozarks, MO, and multiple lake towns in New Hampshire and Michigan, too, will soon carry the Lake Patriot line.
In Barbara Hollister’s earlier career, she was an executive secretary for Mobil Oil Corporation. While raising her children, now teenagers, she earned a BA in Communications – Writing. She’s also a content writer in the addiction recovery and mental health industries.
Both Barb and Ron are Danbury natives and proud Henry Abbott Technical High School grads.
For retailers who would like to carry the Lake Patriot line, and for boaters seeking some financial assistance, please contact Barb directly at: bjhollister@LakePatriot.com
Visit: Lake Patriot on Facebook and like / follow, too, on Instagram.
Did You Know?
- Over 26,000 residents live around Candlewood Lake
- Over 80,000 are seasonal residents
- Candlewood Lake is the largest lake in CT, man-made in 1928
- There are over 3,000 lakes in the Nutmeg State
- The U.S. is home to over 180,000 lakes
- 17 million freshwater boaters are registered in the U.S.
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