INSIDE LIFE AU LAIT | Who We Are & What We Do

Our story is rooted in passion, inspired by positivity, and driven by an indescribable need to innovate in a place that fuels creativity.

AU LAIT Media was born just before we moved to Prince Edward County and it is essentially the vision behind three ideas—LIFE AU LAIT Magazine, the AU LAIT Virtual Market and the AU LAIT Live + Stay market (officially ‘coming soon’!)

LIFE AU LAIT is the culmination of decades of experience in the publishing, marketing and media industries by our publisher and editor-in-chief, Lonelle Selbo (you can read a little more about her here) and her conduit for the product of a brain in overdrive and a heart that belongs almost entirely to the County. The colour, however, the layers of complexity and depth woven into LIFE AU LAIT is the song of our community and the music we all make together.

The Magazine: Celebrating County Life

In 2018, we launched our digital magazine, the first component and the hub of our vision. Our goal was to capture the magical energy of the County, a combination of this remarkable place—an island surrounded by various bodies of water, with endless white sandy beaches, infinite horizons, and fertile farmland—and its people, a community made up of astounding talent, skill, and creativity.

LIFE AU LAIT Magazine is exclusively digital and likely will remain this way for several reasons. First and foremost, the County moves really fast. We want to be able to keep up with it as we see fit and not subscribe to the limitations presented by an ‘issue’.

Next, our audience is geographically diverse. Traditionally, in the “high” or warm seasons, our visitors are a mix of locals and visitors, though it often leans towards incomers in the on-peak hours, because the people of the County are hard at work to provide tourism-facing services. In the “off season” or the cold months our readers are dedicated County folk who want to know what’s happening in the community and where and how they can connect or get involved. Since COVID, we have an increased number of dreaming out-of-towners looking to escape to “the simple life” along with a huge influx of hopeful future PEC residents scouring the scene. In order to meet this diverse readership in print, we’d have to implement a really complex and expensive distribution strategy and frankly, we weren’t sure it made sense.

And finally, there was the issue of access. We wanted this hub to meet everyone, everywhere and we felt that at this present time, an online publication would be freely available, have a much smaller carbon footprint, and exist literally at everyone’s virtual fingertips, while print (delicious as it is) requires readers to meet it where it is.

The final thought was that we could eventually release an annual publication with some of our favourite articles, interviews and captures from the previous year, curating the best content of the previous 12 months in our magazine to coffee tables everywhere.

Aside from being a lifestyle magazine, LIFE AU LAIT Magazine has a hidden agenda—but don’t worry, it’s awesome.

While capturing and reflecting the Belle Epoque-esqe movement that’s happening in Prince Edward County already feels a bit lofty sometimes, we actually have another agenda behind our raison d’etre.

First, to show the County as it is—an edgy, cultural region offering the deeply cool, authentic experiences that you get when you combine un-try-hard innovation with a try-real-hard work ethic, simultaneously demonstrating that we are not Toronto or Montreal or Ottawa’s rural outpost, but something quite distinct. We find that when people come here and actually get what we’re doing, they enjoy it so many times more than when they’re trying to impose their own vision on the County to find pretty quickly that it doesn’t work.

The second reason for our existence is nerdier. We were very invested in the early theories put forward by social scientist Richard Florida in the early 2000s regarding “The Creative Class” and their ability and desire to move to more rural areas with a robust technological infrastructure and call their talents back in to the city. This notion captured our imagination many years ago, no doubt foreshadowing our own move to an Ontarian rural region, but once in the County, we found something even cooler. Here, there were a diverse group of newcomers that had moved to this specific rural area and joined forces with locals to turn their talents and skills inwards towards the community. The result was something vibrant, an energy, a combination of knowledge that was resulting in new things, a collaborative feeling that allowed for competition, but also built up our competitors in a ‘rising tides’ float of positivity. This was something important and we wanted to capture it, so the magazine also became a vehicle to document this movement, hoping it might someday be considered and perhaps leveraged by other rural regions of the future.

The Virtual Market: The County Is Open

Our recent launch of The Virtual Market in December of 2020 has been phenomenal. We began developing this resource in 2018, alongside our LIVE + STAY Market, but got sidetracked with growing the magazine and prioritized that part of the business instead. Then, with the onset of COVID, we realized that our local businesses needed a lifeline and that we were sitting on something big—a beautifully designed online marketplace through which they could reach buyers from both in and beyond the County. With some tweaking, this resource was basically ready to go.

The vision is awesome. Rows on rows of beautiful virtual stalls, each self-curated to reflect the personality of the vendor and their business. We would recreate the feel of browsing through one of our local markets, seeing familiar faces, reminding ourselves of the awesome talents and wares we have access to in this region. Feel a little bit of that amazing County vibe. Browse, shop, reach out, connect.

Of course, virtual shopping has limitations, but it also has freedoms that real life markets don’t have. Our stalls aren’t limited to physical offerings, we can saunter through a market that doesn’t only offer gorgeous goods and wares, but also workshops, concerts, classes, tours, festivals and events. We can invite trades and services to set up stalls or smaller mom & pop side-hustles that don’t quite make sense at a physical market. And then there are the MAJOR perks, notably that our virtual market is 100% COVID-proof and that it’s a four season, 24-7, ‘wherever you are, we are’ kind of thing.

So we launched it with a contest, offering randomly selected bunch of small business a 6-month stall to help buffer their lockdown limitations and give them a means to communicate with both their audience and our own. On our social media, we saw the response to our vendor’s stalls and the marketplace, the excitement our readers had to shop the virtual County! And now that we’ve officially opened our doors, we can’t wait to build the market so we have a full complement of County representation.

Watch this space, friends—we’ve got a lot going on here and are building up the awesome interactive functionality of our market over the coming months 😉

The Live + Stay Market: Step Inside The Dream

The final piece of the LIFE AU LAIT concept for 2021 is our soon-to-be officially launched LIVE + STAY Market. This segment is has three components: Real Estate listings, STAs (Short Term Accommodation, ie. B&Bs), and long term rental listings.

Real Estate Listings

The real estate market in the County is booming. Even before the pandemic, we suspected that Richard Florida’s prophesy was on the precipice of fulfillment. The allure of country living, with the potential to retain one’s career and salary is irresistible to a diverse demographic—from former weekend warriors to young families to skilled creatives looking for a new frontier to empty nesters looking for the next adventure. With Toronto’s hot market and impossible prices, the inflating County real estate is still comparatively reachable and stretches beautifully to cover a range of dreams and visions.

Having said that, country living and in particular, County living, isn’t as simple as a transplant. The life here is magical, but it’s not plug and play and it’s not for everyone. You have to know the quirks and embrace them. You have to determine if the special energy that exists here, meshes with yours at this point in your life. That’s precisely what LIFE AU LAIT’s magazine explores and reflects in our content and it’s exactly why it makes sense for our magazine to host the LIVE + STAY Market and specifically, our Real Estate Listings.

STAy Market

STAs are an attractive income stream in a place whose population fluctuates from 25,000 full time residents to 675k when our visitors flock here in the high seasons. Sleep spots in high demand and the County offers everything from extra rooms to converted out-houses to whole homes. It’s a profitable sector and a strategy that helps to subsidize a mortgage, creating a real economy for a tourist-friendly region that thrives in the high seasons.

And choosing the right place to stay here is a really big part of the County experience. In this region, no two properties are alike, each one is a small piece of this island paradise we live in. Even browsing through the listings gets us dreaming, with a glorious range of experiences on offer—from beautifully restored architecture to modern country to hip luxury—that cements the character of your whole visit.

Of course, we love a good staycation and we’ve indulged in a bunch of stunning County spots, so we’re thrilled for the upcoming launch of our “STAy Stalls”—a curated virtual market of County sleepover spots that let property owners share a deep look into their gorgeous STAs and helps visitors find spots that meet their County vision.  More on this coming soon!

Long Term Rentals

The dark side of this beautiful property trifecta is that Prince Edward County has a notable long term rental shortage. With rising costs of residential real estate (both for homes and short term rentals) in limited supply (we’re an island and we love our acreage), housing isn’t entirely affortable, low-income housing is in high demand, and rentals are few and far between. This shortage of long term rental housing has a ripple effect that is felt throughout the whole of the County and it is something that needs our attention.

In order to help pair good renters with good rentals and encourage PEC property owners to consider the option of renting their units to longer term clients, LIFE AU LAIT will be offering our soon-to-be-officially-launched Long Term Rental listings for free to local renters who meet our criteria.

***

We love this place and we love hearing from our readers—whether part of our County community or visitors and fans from further afield. So if you have any thoughts on what we do or want to know more about who we are and why we’re here, please reach out to us and connect, we’re friendly.

 

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Visit Us On TwitterVisit Us On FacebookVisit Us On Instagram