Fifty years ago when I was 8 years old I pretended I was a mermaid, holding my breath and swimming underwater while imagining my two feet as a mermaid fin. I could remain sitting on the floor of the pool by gracefully waving my small arms through the water above my head. I let iridescent bubbles escape from my mouth in a slow stream through the clear, sun-dappled water of the community swimming pool.
Thirty-seven years ago when I was twenty I was learning to SCUBA dive in my university’s deep diving pool. I occasionally thought about being a mermaid and sometimes kept my flippered feet together to swim like one.
Two years ago while working in a retail craft store cutting fabric I was stunned to learn that a customer was buying brightly-colored stretchy spandex fabric for her growing business of manufacturing mermaid tails. She stitched up the tube-like costume around actual swim fins and sold them online at a healthy price to a growing customer base.
I have a BA degree in costume design. I have vast knowledge and skills and creativity. I want to earn money doing something creative. I went home from my fabric-cutting work and researched the mermaid-tail business. I found several small businesses making beautiful creations; on some websites there was even underwater video footage of mermaid-swimming customers.
I sighed and realized that with such a niche product the market was probably already flooded. I forgot about mermaids and continued to make prototypes and research marketing techniques for my wonderful un-launched products and newly recorded music CD.
Today I read an article from MicroMentor.org about a small business owner who is finding success in her job of manufacturing mermaid tails. (…!!) It described the journey of Jerilyn Winstead from “homemaker to owner of Aquatails, a company that designs, produces, and sells swimmable mermaid and merman costumes to an international audience.”
In the past, Jerilyn had the same information regarding a niche market that I did. She chose to become excited and look at possibilities rather than the number of competitors. Now Jerilyn “has already started her second business, Mermaid Cove, a full-service swim school which also offers the art of mermaiding, to kids and adults of all ages.”
I don’t want to sew mermaid tails, though I still love to swim underwater. However, I do want to be reminded, to remember, that no matter how educated and creative a person is, it takes actual physical effort and personal belief to move forward in developing a profitable business.
–Read about Fear and business in a previous post, here.
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