A Q&A with Chris Lundeen
Find out why this company is supporting Freshwater by donating a percentage of their profits, and why they value clean water. This is an excerpt from our Q&A with Chris Lundeen.
Tell us about yourselves
We are a small family of four: Chris, Hanna, Gracelyn (5) and Lakelyn (2). We also have two dogs: Wes (12) and Izzy (7). We live on a lake in central Minnesota and just love everything about it. Chris works in water resources and Hanna is a school counselor. Most of our free time is spent spending time enjoying some activity lake/water related.
Tell us about Clean Lakes MN
We are a small family business selling apparel to help create awareness about the water quality issues in Minnesota lakes and rivers. Wearing Clean Lakes MN apparel will get more people throughout Minnesota talking about keeping our waters clean & healthy for everyone to enjoy!!
We are a family that lives around lake life: swimming, paddle boarding, wakeboarding, wakesurfing, fishing, etc. We want to keep Minnesota lakes and rivers clean so everyone can have these experiences.
[To that end], 15% of the profits made go to protecting Minnesota lakes and rivers for future generations.
How did you get interested in this clothing line?
I had always wanted to start a business dealing with water resources issues. I came up with an idea one day about a logo that I thought would be cool and thought apparel would be a good place to showcase it. It all really started with a text to Hanna about the idea. The idea was to use our customers as a “billboard” to get more people talking about water quality issues and production.
How did you get interested in water?
I grew up coming up to our cabin in central Minnesota, where our family lives today. My grandma was always working on our lake association board to protect the lake. I got into the water resource field, and when I was out fishing one day I was thinking about what could I do to protect this beautiful lake we love. I starting looking for classes to take to achieve this career change, which in turn I received a master’s in environmental studies from St. Cloud State. Hanna grew up on a lake and just never wanted to live anywhere else.
How did you make the decision to designate a portion of your profits in this way?
We wanted to do something more than just selling apparel designed around protecting our waters. We didn’t know what would happen with the businesses, so we decided to start with the 10% donation, with the idea of increasing this as we grow. We look at many nonprofits dealing with water quality issues in the state. We wanted an organization that was dealing with issues all over the state, we narrowed it down to a couple and decided Freshwater Society was a great fit.
How did you first get to know Freshwater? Has Freshwater helped you or made an impact on you in any way and if so, how?
I have attended many trainings put on by the Freshwater Society, most of them dealing with civic engagement. I have used many of these meetings for my day job. I think they have also helped in engaging people about water quality issues at my lake association meetings and events to attend.
Why is clean, reliable, healthy water important to you?
As Minnesotans we just assume that every time we jump in a lake or turn on the water faucet, the water will be clean. Although this is not true everywhere in Minnesota, most of us get to enjoy these things. If we don’t all take steps to protect our waters our kids, grandkids, and great grandkids won’t be able to enjoy our waters as we do today.
What do you love most about Minnesota waters? Why do you think it is important to protect and preserve water?
Growing up with a going to the cabin with my family on the weekends, spending time with friends on the water, meeting Hanna out on the boat wakeboarding, introducing our daughters to paddle boarding and wakesurfing—a lot of my fondest memories of my life deal with spending time on the water. It is much easier and cheaper to protect our waters than to restore them, and if we as Minnesotans don’t start doing more to protect our waters, future generations will be left with our mess. We want our daughters to be able to have all the experiences we’ve enjoyed and for them to pass these traditions on to their kids.
What is next for you and/or Clean Lakes?
The next for Clean Lakes MN is to keep doing what we are doing—keep promoting our products to making people aware of our Minnesota waters, and getting them talking to one another in order to help make it cleaner for generations to come.
Where can people find Clean Lakes products?
We sell all our products online at cleanlakesmn.com and at events throughout the state. We also sell at some retail locations across the state including: Merchants on Main Street in Sauk Centre, Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply in Grand Marais, Legacy of The Lakes Museum in Alexandria, Homespun MN in Minneapolis, and Ridgedale Center in Minnetonka.