The Homestead Assisted LivingJune 2, 2021
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With summer in full swing comes the promise of sunny days spent outdoors finding exciting new activities to try.
As the world pushes through what appears to be the final stretches of a COVID-19 pandemic that resulted in quiet summers spent at home last year, the thrill of outdoor adventures is all the more appealing.
For the pair behind Golden Meadow-based water sports company Calypso Paddle Co., creating adventures for the Bayou Region has been in their blood since 2014 when the business was born.
“I was always in the water, [whether] charter fishing, fishing, hydrosliding, something to that sort, and then I learned how to surf when I was younger, and that led into paddleboarding,” owner Fallon Ellender says.
When Fallon moved to Clearwater, Florida, several years ago, she found herself in an environment where water activities were widespread, leaving her with the question that would spark the creation of Calypso: Why don’t we have this in Louisiana?
Fallon ultimately decided to bring paddleboarding and other water-based activities to the Bayou Region, beginning with paddleboard yoga and excursions and tours through Cocodrie, Bayou Lafourche and Grand Isle.
Calypso didn’t stop there, though. Roughly two and a half years ago, Fallon and her now-partner Zachary Meeks noticed how difficult it was to obtain supplies for their paddleboards and kayaks, having to order online or travel to places like Pensacola, Florida, to find what they needed.
Zachary suggested the idea of opening a retail shop, and the pair decided to go for it.
Originally based in Houma, Fallon and Zachary sought out a location that allowed for more space to fit their equipment and was situated closer to the water. Thus, the shop was relocated to Golden Meadow.
Today Calypso offers sales of paddleboards, kayaks, premium boards and merchandise. On the service side, the company hosts excursions in Grand Isle, Cocodrie and Sportsman’s Paradise (complete with an ice cream stop) and Bayou Lafourche. Fallon also teaches paddleboard yoga at both the YMCA and in open-water locations like Catfish Lake.
With everything that Calypso has to offer, Fallon says the goal is to make water-based activities like paddleboarding accessible to everyone at every experience level so residents of the Bayou Region can learn to explore and appreciate their own backyards.
“We want to cater to whoever that we can around the area, and it’s just really to get people out,” Fallon says. “I brought it down here because we have so many coastal areas, plus we need to get out there. We’re so stuck into our busy little worlds that we have that it’s really nice to step away, either on a paddleboard or kayak or to just go into nature and have that unwind time.”
The company’s excursions extend from “mom and me” treks, to family and company outings, to bachelor and bachelorette parties, to even excursions that allow guests’ dogs to tag along for the ride.
For Fallon, the opportunity to take guests out on excursions, especially for the first time, is as meaningful as it gets. She says she enjoys watching them get over their initial fears and embrace their time spent out on the water.
“I remember the first couple of excursions…I was trying to just get people out and have fun. A lot of people didn’t know what a paddleboard was, or if they did, they tried it in Destin on a flimsy rental,” Fallon says. “Once they got on they’re like, ‘It’s ok for me to sit the whole time?’ and then five minutes later, they’re standing up laughing and having the time of their life…so it’s really good to see people just get out there and do it.”
On the retail side of Calypso, Fallon and Zachary are just as committed to making their inventory accessible to everyone from the customer purchasing their first product, to the experienced paddleboarder.
The team begins by giving customers
a mini “questionnaire” to assess their budget, experience level with water activities and overall story. With board options in mind, Calypso offers demonstrations of their inventory, so customers can get a firsthand idea of what paddleboard or kayak is the right fit for them.
Even after purchase, the Calypso team will follow up with customers to make sure they’re satisfied with their new board or kayak.
“We try to get them into something they’re going to enjoy and not want to sell,” Fallon says. “There’s so many things that go into choosing the perfect kayak or paddleboard for you.”
Fallon says that Calypso makes a point to connect with brands that are easy to contact and develop relationships with, allowing them, for example, to listen to customer requests regarding products and pass those suggestions onto the teams behind those brands.
The company works with brands like Reel Skipper, a small business owned by two women in South Florida, and American-made kayak line Crescent Kayaks, based in Georgia.
Calypso is also the only local retailer of BOTE paddleboards, based out of Destin, Florida.
Fallon says that Calypso also seeks to carry sustainable products, such as those of Toadfish, a sustainable drinkware, kitchen and fishing company that gives a portion of its sales to efforts to restore oyster beds along both the East Coast and Gulf Coast.
“We try to connect with brands that we can call them if something’s going on,” Fallon says. “Just like we are a small business owner, they are too, and that connection is really good, and it shows in their product, and it shows in their customer [relations].”
Fallon says it has made her happy to see people embracing outdoor time more over the last year-and-a-half amidst the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and she hopes Calypso will offer another way to explore their own backyard of Louisiana.
Fallon and Zachary have no intentions of slowing Calypso down any time soon. Fallon says she hopes to expand their offerings to become a “one-stop shop” for all water sports.
Above all, she encourages anyone who wants to give paddleboarding or kayaking a try to go for it.
“We have rentals. We have demos. It’s just a point to really get out there and do it. Do it for yourself and your family. Get out on the water, and just have fun. That’s what we’re here to help you do,” Fallon says.
To learn more about Calypso Paddle Co., visit calypsopaddlecompany.com. POV