Originally from a small village in southwest Colombia, Evanston-based Amanda Pohlman and her sister Olga founded Monarca, a shop that specializes in ethically sourced, handmade, real butterfly wing jewelry.
We look forward to having Monarca at the Chicago Artisan Market on Sunday, December 1, 2019 from 10am-4pm at Morgan MFG (401 N. Morgan St.), along with top Chicago & Midwest artisans in food, fashion, home goods + art.
Most butterflies have a short life span. Some species live around 12-20 days, but others might live as few as one or two days. This makes butterfly farming an attractive option for small family-owned farms in tropical forests around the world. Most of the farms have enclosures in which they breed the species of butterflies that are native to their area. They feed the butterflies and protect them from predators, so they can develop and reproduce. Once the butterflies mature, the farmers release a number of them back into the wild to keep their populations healthy.
Monarca has a partnership with butterfly breeders from South America and supports legal insect traders within the US who import butterflies species from all over the world. The wings used for their jewelry come from certified butterfly breeders that send them the wings once the butterflies have expired naturally, meaning no butterflies are harmed in the process. They also create jewelry made from real flowers, and feathers because of their support for a few family-owned farms in the US that sell small quantities of feathers collected from their own peafowls.
The small company started in Popayán, a Colombian city, and now continues with a satellite studio in Evanston, IL. One of the sisters, Amanda, recently moved to Evanston, and designs and assembles all of the products for the lines offered in the US. She enjoys working with different butterfly species and combining their handmade pieces with stones, beads and metals that they do not use in Colombia, creating an exclusive line of products that are found only in her new home.