Kiki Sylvain has spent the last 10 years of her career breeding butterflies at her company SK Butterflies. Many different signs inspired Sylvain to start the business including the day she found a deceased butterfly on the floor of her greenhouse. Sylvain’s husband, Sedrick, suggested Kiki frame the butterfly. After showing him the finished product, Sedrick declared, “I love it! I would buy that,” and saw a potential business opportunity in Kiki’s newfound hobby. The couple decided to take this butterfly journey to the next level and start a business.
In this edition of our Small Business Spotlight series, Sylvain (who was nominated by her mom for our Spotlight!) joins us to talk about her Miami-based business and its wide range of cruelty-free butterfly offerings, the challenges of butterfly breeding and what goes into making butterfly jewelry.
How would you describe SK Butterflies and its offerings?
We are butterfly breeders. We offer a wide range of native butterflies, caterpillars, plants and artwork using exotic and native preserved butterflies. All of our butterflies are farm raised and cruelty free. SK butterflies will celebrate its 10-year anniversary in August 2022.
Where does the name SK Butterflies originate from?
The first initial in my husband and I’s first names: Sedrick and Kiki’s butterflies.
Starting a business in which the primary offering is based around breeding butterflies is incredibly unique! Did you have a background of working with or breeding butterflies beforehand?
Thank you! I do not have a background of breeding insects or butterflies. I did study horticulture in college though. Most of my knowledge came from YouTube university — pun intended.
Part of SK Butterflies’ offerings include beautiful jewelry and home décor that uses recycled butterfly wings. How are you able to recycle these parts of a butterfly into fashion? Does the process take a long time to do?
Instead of discarding my deceased butterfly wings, I prefer to recycle them into pieces that are going to provide them the opportunity to live a life after death. If the butterflies are still in good condition after they perish, I will use the whole specimen as home décor. If the butterfly wings are too battered after they perish, I find a small piece that still looks preservable and make jewelry. My jewelry takes 24-48 hours to fully complete.
What were some of the challenges you have faced, and overcome, in running SK Butterflies? I’m curious about any challenges that come with breeding butterflies as well as challenges that might have been presented to your business during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some of my earliest challenges were creating products that people would be interested in purchasing. My butterfly frames were the hardest things to sell back in 2012. Another challenge was maintaining a relationship with my clients, such as personalizing and custom making items per their request.
Breeding butterflies, although fun, can be challenging. I must make sure outside predators are not hurting the butterflies. I try my best to ensure their survival rate is maximized. They all deserve to live a fulfilling life.
All of the butterfly stages are important for breeding. This is why I take pride in my butterfly enclosure, keeping them safe to the best of my ability.
Our business did better than ever during the pandemic. Our online sales skyrocketed due to everyone being home during lockdown.
What is the most rewarding aspect of being a business owner?
Being able to make my passion for success into a reality. Having my daughter help me in the business is certainly the most rewarding aspect of all.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start their own business?
Be consistent. Be open minded. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
What is your favorite butterfly family?
The monarch is my favorite butterfly. She is the most resilient.
What does the future hold for SK Butterflies throughout 2022 and beyond?
We plan to supply chrysalis and butterflies to conservatories, schools and museums.
Shop SK Butterflies on Etsy and its website to place an order and learn more about its products!
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