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February 2, 2021
When Courtney Vermette’s infant daughter was struggling with severe eczema, she struggled to find solutions that could keep her comfortable. When she discovered bamboo sleepwear and other chemical-free products that helped clear her daughter’s eczema, she knew she wanted to bring these products to other families.
Her quest has evolved into Butter Bug Boutique, a baby boutique featuring apparel and products that are free of chemicals and fabrics that irritated her daughter’s skin. We caught up with Vermette and asked her to share more about her inspiring journey into entrepreneurship in the middle of pandemic.
*Family images by Faithful Joy Photos.
Courtney Vermette: What started out as a necessity to help my infant who was struggling with severe eczema turned into a whole new world for us when we were introduced to Bamboo Sleepwear. Kickee Pants and other bamboo clothing was the only remedy that completely got rid of her skin issues.
At this time, I had no idea that most kids’ apparel was sprayed with flame retardant and other chemicals, which causes eczema, psoriasis and allergies to flare up. Being in Florida doubled the need for Bamboo’s moisture-wicking temperature-regulating fabric making her comfortable all year around. Fast forward to today, my daughter is now 4 years old and still wears bamboo along with organic cotton and chemical-free products.
Her eczema and allergies have never returned, and I knew I needed to share with other moms alike how life changing these products could be. I started recommending these brands to parents who also struggled to find solutions for their babies’ skin issues, allergies and even sensory issues.
Many times (probably 1000) I would say to my husband, “I wish I could own my own boutique so that I can show these amazing brands to everyone.” But I doubted myself and set it aside considering that I already was a mom and wife and had a full-time career as school counselor and as a photographer.
It was not until our 2020 Spring Break when my husband (also a teacher) and I realized we would not be returning to our schools due to COVID. I was devastated, and during such an uncertain time I had no creative outlet, no photography sessions to be held, no way to take our daughter to the museums that she loved and limited contact with my students other than Zoom.
Soon after, I started to think about what I could do to lift my spirits while also bringing some type of joy to others. I woke up on June 12 and it became so clear. Within 24 hours, Butter Bug Boutique was born (named after my daughter who loves butterflies, bugs and buttery soft bamboo). I worked close to 20 hours a day creating an e-commerce site, branding and applying for wholesale accounts representing our favorite brands, products and developmental toys. I decided that I wanted to be more than a boutique.
I wanted to offer products that supported other small shops during a time when small businesses were struggling to stay afloat. Not only this, but I wanted to make sure that Butter Bug maintained certain values that we could stand behind and support, which is where our slogan “Buy with a Purpose” came to fruition.
Less than six months of opening, I am still learning how to balance it all, while returning to the new school year during a pandemic. Often, there are days of discouragement and doubt. Can I handle all of this? Are my products going to sell? But then I see my customers and their elated spirits when receiving an order, the fellowship that has followed in our Facebook group, and most importantly, the support of my husband, parents, friends and Frank Albert Realty for providing a retail space for us.
Like I teach my students every day: Succeed by doing good for others and by having a growth mindset. It’s not that you CAN’T do it, you just can’t do it YET, but you will – with dedication, passion and perseverance.
Originally published in the January 2021 issue of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine.
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