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Community Highlights: Meet Courtney Vermette of Butter Bug Boutique

Today we’d like to introduce you to Courtney Vermette.

Hi Courtney, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
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. Bamboo clothing was the only remedy that completely got rid of her skin issues.

At this time, I had no idea that almost all kid’s apparel was sprayed with flame retardant and contained chemicals, which can cause eczema, psoriasis, and allergy flare-ups. Being in Florida doubled the need for Bamboo’s moisture-wicking + temperature regulating fabric making her comfortable and helping with her sensory disorder.

Fast forward to today, my daughter is now 5 years old and still wears Bamboo apparel (not just sleepwear!) along with other organic textiles. 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 I would say to my Husband “I wish I could have my own boutique so that I can share these amazing brands with everyone” But I doubted myself and set it aside considering that I already had a Full-Time Career as School Counselor, Part-Time Photographer, Mom, and Wife.

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 12th 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 day and night- 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.

As the pandemic heightened, my little shop grew. The growth was slow at first, but I didn’t want to give up. I failed to listen to those who told me a new business would not make it through an economic crisis. But at the end of the day, I had nothing to lose – I was still a school counselor and looked forward to going back to my school to support my students. God had other plans for me…

The amount of support I received along with my loyal customer base, resulted in a thriving boutique that was unimaginable to me. I made the decision to take a year’s leave from Education to stay home with my daughter and see where this new journey may lead – a HUGE risk during this wavering time.

I was only operating online at this time, and after a few more months, I thought “why not have a brick and mortar!?” I know my husband thought I was insane – opening a storefront during COVID, but he knew… and so did my family… when my mind is set on something, I figure it out.

It has now been two years since Butter Bug Boutique started, and a year since I opened our storefront on Howard Ave. in Hyde Park. The past two years have been incredibly rewarding, exhausting, and humbling.

I have met the most amazing customers that have grown into friendships and have had the opportunity to give back in more ways than I did during my 8 years as a school counselor. I love where I am now and am hopeful that Butter Bug will keep growing and making a difference.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
So many challenges, and such a rollercoaster!

Struggling with the effects of COVID and shipping delays, trying to figure out this new way of life – balancing online with in-store… and just in general balancing life with my daughter, family, and friends.

I became so busy that I lost touch with a lot of people and that was really hard for me. I still struggle with trying to find that balance, but I have some really awesome people in my life that lift me up and keep me organized!

We’ve been impressed with Butter Bug Boutique, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I am the owner of Butter Bug Boutique, a unique boutique for babies to big kids with a focus on bamboo apparel, chemical-free products, wooden toys, and specialized gifts.

(We also offer matching women’s and men’s apparel, too) I have been told that I am known for carrying “the softest and cutest clothes that you cannot find anywhere else” or “the toy that no one has ever heard of before” which I LOVE, are all tested and approved by my own daughter, but I am more proud of what goes on behind the scenes…

Our mission is to “buy with a purpose” which means that whenever you purchase from our store, you can feel good knowing that it came from other mom-owned businesses, brands that give back, or handmade toys from artisans all over the world.

I am humbled that I can continue to grow this mission and have Butter Bug be more than just a children’s boutique by partnering with other local businesses, mompreneurs, and non-profits that allow us to give back and support one another.

We also offer rewards, military + educator + first responder discounts, delivery and pickup, and can wrap/ship any gift for you when you come in or order online!

What do you like best about our city? What do you like least?
I am from a very small town in South Carolina, so I LOVE that Tampa has so much to offer! My daughter loves going to the history museum or collecting shells, which are both a short drive away.

Being able to take her places that promote her interest is so special to me. Still, I do miss S.C., the seasons changing, and could live without this humidity – I am not sure I will ever get adjusted to that!

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