About The Vision
Chris Amendt, the founder of Native Monarchs and Monarch Botanika, is a dedicated advocate for the natural world and a tireless champion of Monarch butterfly conservation. She holds degrees in Cytotechnology from CSU, Dominguez Hills and UCLA, specializing in identifying cells and abnormalities, including cancer. Certified by the American Society of Clinical Pathologists and trained as a Specialist in Cytotechnology, she spent over two decades diagnosing cancer cells in a medical testing laboratory and earned a Platinum Project Management Certification.
Despite her successful medical career, Chris felt a deep longing to have a more meaningful impact on the environment. Raised by her grandmother, “Grammy” Betty, who instilled a love for wildlife and the outdoors, Chris's childhood was filled with science projects involving butterflies, caterpillars, birds, and plants. Her grandmother encouraged her not just to play in the backyard but to explore, respect, and support the wildlife there. This early connection to nature became the basis of her life's work.
However, it was her deep love for nature and an unwavering passion for Monarch butterfly conservation that eventually inspired Chris to leave her corporate job. Influenced by her grandmother's wisdom and her personal experiences in nature, she sought out alternative ways to make a positive impact. In 2018, she established Efficient Lab Innovations, not only to support herself after leaving her corporate job but also as a platform to give back to the community. Her venture centered on the design and manufacture of advanced laboratory tools, with the aim of enhancing efficiency and quality for frontline employees. Her innovative spirit led to the development of multiple patented and trademarked products, setting her on a journey of invention and exploration. Chris's decision to reinvest the proceeds from one of her patents underscored her genuine dedication to fulfilling her true passion: contributing significantly to the well-being of the planet.
A NEW JOURNEY
In 2020, amidst the challenges of the pandemic, Chris established Native Monarchs, a non-profit organization dedicated to addressing the Monarch population crisis and fostering essential habitats. During that same year, she undertook the ambitious project of constructing her first large-scale Monarch butterfly habitat at her local golf course, Sterling Hills in Camarillo, CA. Her unique approach aimed to inspire habitat preservation in residential yards, recognizing the significant impact that simple changes in landscaping habits can have on pollinators and beneficial insects.
Taking her commitment further, Chris embarked on a journey of propagating Milkweed plants to donate to Ventura County gardeners and Monarch Butterfly advocates. As she cultivated native milkweed for people's Monarch gardens, she noticed she had a surplus of unviable seeds left over. Intrigued by the potential of these seeds, she attempted to repurpose them as a plant fertilizer. However, it became clear that the seeds held a more remarkable secret: they could be cold-pressed to extract a unique oil. Drawing upon her medical knowledge and conducting chemical composition tests on the oil, she discovered its exceptional qualities, rich in omega fatty acids 3, 6, 9, and 7—a rarity in the plant world. Recognizing the potential to create a premium skincare product that directly supported the monarch conservation mission, Chris decided to make and sell this unique oil-based product, with 50% of the sales dedicated to monarch conservation efforts.
Leveraging her personal resources, Chris established Monarch Botanika in 2021, a venture that faced its fair share of challenges, including manufacturing disruptions due to the pandemic, supply chain complexities, and rising raw material expenses. Undeterred, she persevered, concurrently maintaining her landscaping job to sustain herself and propel the project onward. Despite the obstacles, she successfully brought her product to fruition, ultimately launching the Monarch Botanika line in the fall of 2022.
Chris faced initial concerns when launching a new beauty product in a highly competitive market. Nevertheless, her strong belief in the product's exceptional qualities, thanks to the innovative Milkweed Seed Oil, inspired her to create it as a way to support her conservation efforts. She envisioned the product not just as skincare but as a tool for Monarch conservation, striving to distinguish it from typical beauty products. Chris aimed for its ultimate success, positioning it as the quintessential Product with a Purpose and a more significant Cause. Yet, the path has not been without its challenges. Facing a lack of funding for marketing, Chris encountered difficulties in driving sales, despite receiving glowing reviews from satisfied customers. Nonetheless, her determination remains unwavering as she continues to work tirelessly to promote her mission and spread awareness about Monarch conservation through Monarch Botanika's exceptional products.
COLLABORATION FOR THE FUTURE
Chris's impactful work extends far beyond her role as a founder and innovator. She actively collaborates with esteemed organizations, forging partnerships aimed at furthering Monarch conservation and sustainable practices. These collaborations include:
- California State University, Channel Islands: Chris is currently engaged in the creation of Monarch habitats within the campus garden, expanding her influence in the realm of Monarch conservation.
- The Agriculture Industry in Ventura County: In collaboration with the USDA and their Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) programs, along with the Ventura County Resource Conservation District (VCRCD), Chris plays a pivotal role in driving Pollinator Habitat Programs for Farmers and Ranchers. Her leadership is instrumental in pioneering the cultivation of Milkweed as a viable native agricultural "crop," meticulously harvesting seeds for the extraction of precious oil used in Monarch Botanika's exceptional beauty products.
- The Golf Industry: Chris collaborates with the Southern California Golf Association (SCGA) to educate golf course managers about the benefits of wildlife coexistence on the course. This includes replacing out-of-play areas with lower maintenance native habitats conducive to Monarchs, pollinators, and other wildlife.
- Elementary and High Schools: Chris is dedicated to establishing specific Monarch and pollinator areas in school gardens. Her educational efforts extend to faculty and students, emphasizing how pollinators significantly enhance fruit and vegetable crop yields while allowing students to observe the lifecycle of various beneficial insects.
- Wineries: Many wineries boast captivating gardens outside their tasting rooms. Chris identifies this as a unique opportunity to introduce a curated selection of butterfly and bird-friendly plants, enriching the experience for visitors.
- Homeowners Associations (HOAs): Common areas within HOAs often feature high-maintenance, water-consuming annuals that are frequently replaced. Chris promotes perennial and succulent landscaping designs that not only enhance aesthetics but also require less maintenance, are drought-tolerant, and serve the higher purpose of benefiting Monarchs and pollinators.
- Landscaping Industry: Chris is an advocate for transforming landscaping industry practices. Her mission is to shift from routine lawn mowing, weekly pruning, and the use of fertilizers and herbicides to more thoughtful landscape designs that provide essential food, shelter, and host plants for insects and birds. Her guiding principle is "Landscape for Life, Not just Looks."
These extraordinary endeavors not only support Monarch butterflies but also breathe new life into the synergy between agriculture, residential and commercial landscaping, and conservation. Her unyielding vision is rooted in fostering community awareness, spearheading sustainable practices, and instigating profound change for the benefit of Monarch butterflies and our environment. Her inspiring journey serves as a testament that one passionate individual can lead transformative change, ultimately leaving a lasting legacy for generations to come.
As we celebrate the incredible journey and achievements of Chris Amendt and Monarch Botanika, we invite you to be part of this inspiring mission. Your support is instrumental in ensuring that Monarch Botanika's exceptional products continue to flourish, and that the vital conservation efforts it champions remain a beacon of hope for the Monarch population. Together, we are the Monarchs' only hope, and your actions will ensure the preservation of their legacy and cherished habitats.
Join us in making a lasting impact.