Time flies. It seems like just yesterday when Amber Pratt and Shawn Perich published the first issue of Northern Wilds magazine, which featured a peregrine falcon on the cover. But that yesterday was in 2004—15 years ago.
 
What began as a quarterly tabloid produced by two freelancers working from home is now a monthly magazine covering the North Shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota and Ontario. The early years were challenging. Only dial-up internet was available at the time, which meant sending files to the printer took many hours—one page at a time. Pratt and Perich sold all of the advertising, spending days on the road every month meeting with small businesses across the region. This effort paid off with lasting business relationships. They also began developing a cadre of freelance writers, many of whom are still regular contributors to the magazine.
 
The growth began when the magazine’s advertisers asked Pratt and Perich to publish Northern Wilds as a bimonthly magazine. Next, local real estate companies approached them to publish a weekly real estate guide, which eventually became a monthly arts and entertainment publication called North Shore Highway 61 that was mailed to all households in Cook County. At that point, the pair hired their first employee to handle the increased workload. They hired their first sales person soon after. A growing mountain of paperwork then led to hiring a part time bookkeeper.
 
Northern Wilds Media, Inc. is now a company with a staff of seven producing the magazine and other advertising-driven products, as well as a book publishing operation and a full-service print shop in Grand Marais.
 
“We never imagined our freelance project would become the company it is today,” Pratt said.
 
In 2014, North Shore Highway 61 was assimilated into a redesigned, monthly Northern Wilds magazine. Printing up to 18,000 copies per month, the company mails Northern Wilds to every household in Cook County and distributes the magazine to hundreds of newsstand locations from Duluth to Nipigon, Ont. Celebrating the North Shore lifestyle with stories about local personalities, arts, outdoors, dining, history and more, Northern Wilds “blurs the border” by covering both Minnesota and Ontario.
 
“Our readers often tell us they read every issue from cover to cover,” Perich said. “We try to provide a mix of stories and information from the North Shore that you won’t find anywhere else.”
 
The company continues to grow. Two new books are in the works, and Perich and Pratt also plan to unveil a new product later this year.
 
“We are proud to provide our services to the North Shore community,” Pratt said.