Emerald Swallowtail Butterfly pin from floating fern
This Emerald Swallowtail pin will be sent out as a special gift to everyone who participated in our Mastermind Group Program this session.

Photo courtesy of Olivia Onaigui

It’s always nice to have a memento from a special experience, a souvenir that can serve as a tangible representation of what happened during a particular period. That’s why we wanted to send a special something to all of our Mastermind Group participants as they finish up the program.

This round, our first, we had 140 members in 25 Mastermind Groups! Meeting online every other week, these groups were places of encouragement and vulnerability, companionship, and inspiration. Such a special experience! So we chose a special enamel pin for all participants. This session’s pin is designed by Olivia Ongaigui and is an image of an Emerald Swallowtail butterfly.

Today, we’re sitting down with Olivia to learn about her process of creating this beautiful pin design.

Here’s Olivia:

Hi! My name is Olivia. I currently live in Ontario, Canada (brrrr!) but am originally from the Philippines. As a child, I loved drawing and reading science books, and thought I’d pursue a career either in a creative field or in the sciences as a botanist or geologist, but I was discouraged by my parents and lacked the confidence and safety net to pursue what was generally perceived as relatively unstable careers. 

I studied accounting instead, and although I am grateful for the skills which gave me the opportunity to live and work in Massachusetts for a short while and which also helped me manage my small businesses, I couldn’t let go of my childhood dreams. I moved to Canada to study Illustration. I am currently pursuing a graduate certificate in Game Art and Animation, with a dream of working in a game studio as well as making personal and commissioned 3d illustrative works.

I first started designing enamel pins when a friend of mine from art school asked if I would like to put in a group order with her and a few other artists. Although I knew of a few other art school buddies who sold enamel pins in their small art businesses, I hadn’t considered making my own. I was going through a bit of a work-burnout, and the thought of designing one or two small pins was something that seemed achievable to me, so I sent my designs off, and that’s how Floating Fern got started. 

butterfly enamel pins
Check out all of the different butterfly pins Olivia has designed in her Etsy shop, Floating Fern.

Photo courtesy of Olivia Ongaigui.

When I was studying Illustration, I had the opportunity to do an introductory course in Scientific Illustration. I thoroughly enjoyed visiting the Royal Ontario Museum to sketch taxidermied animals, dinosaur bones, and artifacts. I also used to volunteer at the Museum of Science in Boston, where I would wheel out a table with different kinds of activities for visitors to try. Those were such fun times! The museum also housed a butterfly garden which formed part of my inspiration to make butterfly designs for my first enamel pins.

The enamel pin featured is of the Emerald Swallowtail and it can be found in the Philippines. The butterfly has iridescent bands that change color by reflecting light off of its scales. In designing the original colorway, I wanted to stay true to the butterfly’s glittery black wings with their signature streak of metallic emerald green color, and I was really delighted when the manufacturer was able to achieve this by using chunky glitter against the darker enamel. The featured pin is a “sunset” variation, which is my imagined version of the butterfly’s colors. This version has iridescent glitter against turquoise enamel. 


Thank you so much for this beautiful pin design, Olivia!

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