Fair Winds and Following Kites: Phil Broder ’90

“When the education career came to a sudden end, I was kind of looking around like, ‘OK, what do I do now?’”

Phil Broder worked in environmental education for 25 years before his career path suddenly changed, and he found himself starting his own kite-making supply business.

As a student at Clemson, Broder studied wildlife and fisheries biology with “a grand plan to become the president of the National Wildlife Federation.” While that dream didn’t quite pan out, Broder enjoyed serving as the first nature instructor at Clemson’s outdoor lab after graduation and moved on to work in a nature center outside of Chicago, where Broder’s career would take a wild turn.

“I was literally driving to the mall one day and drove past this kite festival,” Broder says. “I thought, ‘Huh. That looks cool.’ And I stopped to talk to some people, and found out that this kite shop had just opened up the street from my house. That was $100,000 ago.”

Broder’s newfound interest in kites soon blossomed into professional purpose when America’s biggest kite-making supplier closed. “There was a niche in the market, so I moved to fill it,” he explains. And so around four years ago, his online business, Fly Market Kitemaking Supply, was born.

While currently based in Lewisberry, Pa., Broder travels on a regular basis to show off the kites he crafts in events and competitions all over the world: “Besides kite festivals all around America — including the EPCOT Festival of Kites in Orlando to Kites on Ice on a frozen lake in Wisconsin — I’ve been to England, France, China, India, South Africa, Poland, Portugal and Canada.”

Becoming a kite-making supplier and award-winning kite maker was never in the plan for Broder, but he’s grateful for finding his passion and sharing it with his clients. “One of my customers sent me an email the other day of all the kites that he’s built with my supplies. As a business owner, that’s really cool. People are taking this stuff from me, and they’re making it into something beautiful.”

For Broder, the future looks bright. Recently married, he’s planning on taking a trip next fall to one of his favorite destinations: Cape Town, South Africa. “There just happen to be two kite festivals there in October,” he says, “so the idea is kite flying and honeymooning all together.”

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