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Skye Blackburn, 2011 Anthill 30under30 Honourable Mention

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What is 30under30?

30under30 is an Anthill initiative launched in early 2008 to encourage and promote entrepreneurship among young Australians. This year saw more outstanding entries than ever before. So, we thought we would highlight some of the bright and innovative nominees who just missed Top 30 by a wink. Behold, our 2011 30under30 Honourable Mentions! More.

Skye Blackburn, NSW (b. 1983)

Name: Skye Blackburn
Age: 28 (Born: July 1983)
Gender: Female
State: NSW

Getting people to eat bugs can make for some infectious PR. At least it has for Skye Blackburn, who has made a business out of her lifelong insect obsession.

“In Australia were are part of the minority of the world’s population that don’t eat bugs,” says the founder of Butterfly Skye’s Bug Shop.

In 2010, Blackburn used a buggy cooking demonstration at the Sydney International Food Festival to extol the virtues of insect gourmet. Her bug shop introduced critter-filled lollipops at an animal expo, and she now estimates she sells a thousand of the treats every week.

“That’s a lot of brave people!” she exclaims.

A past 30under30 winner, Blackburn has operated Butterfly Skye’s since 2007.  After studying Entomology at university, Blackburn found her business inspiration in a trip to the butterfly sanctuary in Far North Queensland.

Her objective was, and still is, straightforward: educate the public about invertebrates in entertaining ways, whether they make people awestruck (breeding butterflies for display and release at weddings) or squeamish (crunch crunch!).

“I took something that fascinates me and turned it into a profitable business that fascinates others,” she says. “The products and services that my business offers are truly unique and are in high demand because of this.”

One of Blackburn’s recent innovations is the “Creature Kit” for insect life cycles. The easily portable kits, targeted for school use, capture the development stages of the ladybug, the lacewing and, of course, the butterfly, for students of all ages to observe.

Lately, Butterfly Skye has spread its wings even wider with the acquisition of The Green Scorpion, another breeder of insects and invertebrates.

“I’m am amazed that I still wake up everyday looking forward to what’s ahead,” says Blackburn. Silly as her hobby fixture can feel at times, she says she is happy making a living doing what she loves.

“Getting up and going to work in my business every day gives me great satisfaction because I know that I am helping to promote the importance of invertebrates in our environment, and helping people gain knowledge about something that is actually really interesting.”

Anthill asks: Skye Blackburn, what gives you entrepreneurial cred?

“The way that I trap the regular (non-insect-loving) public into having some kind of connection or new found interest in something that would normally completely creep them out. This makes them talk about my products and services to other people, which has helped my business gain the recognition that it has.”

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To check out the full list of Anthill’s 30under30 winners, click here.

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