Magda and Corey Cooper are constantly working. And playing. For the founders of superstar standup paddle board company BOTE, research and development for their boards starts in their hometown of Destin where they live with their three kids. “We are the consumer and our kids product test and inspire new ideas. We can do R&D in our backyard, try out new ideas with the kids and watch them interact with products and do our photoshoots at favorite parks nearby,” says Magda, a three-time collegiate National Champion swimmer at Auburn University and former financial advisor before partnering (in marriage and business) with Corey.
Corey and Magda moved to Florida after graduating from Auburn University and soon saw an opportunity to improve the design of the paddle boards they were using on weekends. The Coopers chose to stay put in Destin, a small town where the outdoor lifestyle reigns, and have grown BOTE’s fleet to more than a dozen boards for fishing, paddling and family leisure.
“We love the small town of Destin, the ease of access and all the nature surrounding us. For the brand, there are challenges - which is true for any business home - but we find that all our employees are into the same lifestyle, which benefits BOTE and makes our jobs more fun,” says Magda.
For many of us, Destin is a favorite vacation spot. For the crew at BOTE, the area feeds their passion. “We moved here because we like the water. We spend a majority of our time fishing and hanging out with friends. This is the DNA that is in the brand,” says Magda. They have found unending southern hospitality and support from a welcoming community that cheers their business on, fueling growth and creativity.
"Destin is not your typical ‘Florida,’" says Corey. “It's a smaller town, more connected to Alabama than Miami and with a slower pace. The local culture has influences from all over, but it definitely has its own style and flavor. Old school charter fishing boats, kayaking, water-skiing, surfing -- water is the epicenter of the Destin lifestyle, which fits us perfectly.”
While the original shape of their first board is still around, the brand has expanded. Exploded, really. They have always taken design seriously, with an end goal of function and beautiful design.
“I wanted a board that was stable enough to fish from, yet paddled efficiently,” says Corey. “A board that could hold a cooler for my beer. A board that was simple, fresh and fit our lifestyle. A board that virtually anybody at any age could paddle with ease. It needed the capabilities of a boat with the simplicity of a board. And, it needed to look good...really good.”
Magda’s favorite spot for a sunset paddle
Launch at Clement Taylor Park on the North Channel and paddle toward Crab Island.
For a paddle across more enclosed water, put in at Norriego Point, and paddle Destin Harbor with access to the canals to explore and peek at the houses.