Owner and founder Amanda Mavar-Schmidt has always had a passion for living, for art and for life on the water. After graduating with a degree in graphic design, Amanda moved to Florida and became an art teacher where she encouraged her students to express themselves. Through teaching, she learned the importance of community, a strong work ethic, and the benefits of group activity and collaboration with others.
She loved teaching but wanted to try something new in which she could use her artistic talent, so she began working as a graphic designer for a luxury handbag boutique. This experience gave her excellent insight into the inner workings of running and marketing a business and sparked her own passion to do something entrepreneurial. But the challenge was to figure out in what direction to take her drive to start something new.
They say to follow your passions and you’ll never feel like you are going to work, so Amanda did just that. While living in Florida, Amanda had discovered a love for paddle boarding. She found herself traveling from Fort Walton to Key West and even as far as Los Angeles to paddle board. Paddle boarding allowed Amanda to immerse herself in nature and appreciate the beauty around her from a different point of view.
Her other passion as she spent her years away from the area, was the culture, the people, the flora and the fauna of her home region, the Mississippi Gulf Coast. She decided to give in to that tug to return home. If you’ve never been to Mississippi, you probably don’t realize just home much water there is and home many amazing different places there are to paddle board. From the relatively calm Mississippi Sound to beaches, back bays, bayous and rivers, you could paddle board in a different place every week for months!
So that was it. In 2013 she started a mobile paddle board business – selling paddle boards and teaching lessons on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
The first set of paddle boards Amanda sold!
Amanda’s first storefront, PaddlesUp!
As the mobile business thrived and she built a following, she responded by opening a storefront on Government Street in the beautiful coastal and artistic city of Ocean Springs, Mississippi — still selling paddleboards and teaching lessons, but also expanding into longboards, skateboards, unique accessories and apparel. This led to ways in which she could also give back and satisfy her genuine desire to make the world a better place. She began hosting and sponsoring paddle boarding events to benefit The Cure Starts Now Foundation, the Wounded Warriors Project, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.
To keep her customers coming back and appeal to new customers, Amanda began attending trade shows and curating unique, purpose-driven brands of any merchandise she felt would appeal to her growing clientele. At this point she was expanding well beyond paddle boarding, and without even realizing it, she was building a brand.
Around this time, she began studying yoga in Costa Rica. Her capable staff to whom she gives much credit, handled the store and made it possible for Amanda to leave the country and train for two months.
The people she met while training inspired and encouraged her to volunteer at Envision Festival—a Costa Rican festival celebrating nature and spirituality. This experience motivated Amanda to volunteer at other festivals including Batki Festival, Beloved Festival, Sonic Bloom and Huluween.
After returning from Costa Rica, she overheard someone walk past her store and say, “just keep walking, that’s just a paddleboard shop.” When Amanda heard this, she knew she had to make a change. She wanted not only her shop to appeal to a broader audience, but she wanted the same for her booth at the festivals where she volunteered. The name “Paddles Up” didn’t reflect her store’s mission or its merchandise anymore and needed a new name.
Amanda’s first storefront, PaddlesUp!
Wild Flier mural in Ocean Springs, Mississippi!
After some thought, Amanda decided to change the name of her store and her company to Wild Flier—a combination of “wildflower” and “wildfire,” and a phrase she feels reflects beauty, passion and an essence that her free spirit identifies with. She expanded her business and opened a second storefront in Destin, Florida, and an launched an online store to reach as many people as possible. She wants every person who visits in-store or online to feel that they can be themselves—that they can “be their own Wild Flier.”