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Community Highlights: Meet Parker Bautner of Riverbottom Butterflies

Today we’d like to introduce you to Parker Bautner.

Hi Parker, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
Raising butterflies started as just a hobby for me. I had no idea what I was getting myself into 6 years ago when I first learned how to take care of my own butterflies.

I was focusing on growing my plant business in my greenhouses, but my customers kept telling me that I should raise butterflies for them. After deciding to give it a shot, it started to really grow and take more and more of my time as I found more clients.

In early 2020, I started putting butterfly kits together so that kids can watch the caterpillars grow and release the butterflies they raised themselves. I had several schools lined up to purchase some big orders in March of 2020 when COVID hit, and all the schools canceled.

I was pretty depressed at the time and was worried that everything I had worked so hard for at the time was over. My wife, Tzeitel, didn’t give up though. She made a post about our kits on her Instagram and shared it with everyone she knew. Her friend with a huge account focused on family activities shared it and I literally woke up the next day with 500 emails of all these parents asking for a kit to do homeschool lessons with schools shut down.

It quickly grew to be too much for me to handle by myself, so I started to bring in family members to help like my brother, Michael, and his wife, Tyler. They eventually became full partners in the business and help with things like building the website, going to markets and events, and fulfilling orders.

Now we’ve grown to be the biggest butterfly farm in Utah and most of the surrounding states. We are still a small family business but we are growing every year and still have a long way to go to provide everyone we can with a magical and wonderful butterfly experience.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Starting a business this unique poses a lot of challenges. You have to create something that doesn’t exist, and there is no template to follow to know what to do or how to succeed. Raising these butterflies takes very detailed coordination; we have eggs, plant food, caterpillars, and chrysalis all growing and emerging at different times, and if any one piece is out of place, you risk losing a batch and having to start over.

There’s a reason this business has been running for 6 years, but you’ve only just started hearing about it in the last 2. It takes a long time to learn how to feed and handle 1,000s of caterpillars and butterflies each week, and even then, you face issues like not having any demand in certain weeks, running out of host plant, or making sure the butterflies stay vibrant and healthy when we ship locally or across the country.

Another challenge I work with every day is that I am an introvert by nature, and really enjoy being by myself all day. It helps with figuring out new things and in this case, it was the raising of butterflies. But with a vision in mind of what I wanted to create, I knew that I couldn’t do it on my own.

So just the simple process of hiring other people and bringing them onto my team and into the workspace has been a huge growth opportunity for me. It’s thanks to many personal mentors and leaders I have learned how to navigate some of those challenges quickly rather than melting at them.

As you know, we’re big fans of Riverbottom Butterflies. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about the brand?
Riverbottom Butterflies is a butterfly and caterpillar business located in Draper Utah on our family farm. We sell kits and butterflies within Utah, which customers can pick up directly at our farm, or have them shipped all across the continental US.

We specialize in native butterflies that customers can release on their own for special occasions like weddings, memorials, or birthday parties, or take home as a butterfly kit and raise themselves. We are the biggest (and only) butterfly farm in Utah.

Most of our local customers know us best for the caterpillar kits we sell in the spring and summer, but outside of Utah we are better known for our mixed multicolor butterfly packages. Most other places will have maybe just Painted Ladies or just Monarchs that they offer.

But thanks to our greenhouses, we have the host plant (caterpillar food) for even more varieties like Red Admirals and Cabbage Whites as well. This makes our butterfly releases different from all other butterfly companies across the nation, and a release can have up to 5 different varieties depending on the time of year.

Is there a quality that you most attribute to your success?
Flexibility allows this company to succeed; we have pivoted from growing plants to growing painted lady butterflies, to growing several species of butterflies, and we hope to keep introducing more as we keep growing.

When the butterflies don’t cooperate, we have to work with what we have in order to fulfill our customers’ needs.

Pricing:

  • Painted Lady Kit: $27.95
  • Monarch Butterfly Kit: $79.95
  • Dozen Multicolor Mixed Butterflies: $69.95
  • 50 Multicolor Mixed Butterflies: $250
  • Birthday Party Butterfly House: $350

Contact Info:

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