Jade Morgan’s business started with her daughter’s dream. Kaylee, 6, wanted to be a mermaid.
Morgan already had some crafting and DIY experience — she’d even sold things at local craft shows — so she decided to try her hand at creating a mermaid costume.
It took her a few attempts before she found the right combination of materials, Morgan said. She had to find swimsuit material that wouldn’t fade in the saltwater and that didn’t become transparent when wet.
Kaylee’s first mermaid tail was black and sparkly. Morgan took her to the beach with her costume, and the two attracted the attention of many of the beach-goers, Morgan said. People asked to take Kaylee’s picture and asked her where she’d bought the outfit.
Morgan made an adult-sized tail and wore it with her daughter. Again, the pair of them became celebrities on the beach.
“I thought, ‘I think I might have something here,’” Morgan said.
The suits are swimmable and stretchy, with seashell tops made to match. The fins are made out of swimmer’s fins, covered by the fabric. Morgan does it all herself, from cutting out the tail to gluing on the small details on the shells.
Right now they’re hard to walk in, Morgan said, but she hopes to improve the design in the future.
Morgan began making mermaid tails to order in January. Custom-sized and hand-made, the tails take her about an hour or two to make from start to finish. She originally bought the material in a craft store but recently switched to wholesale online because of the price difference.
Her business, Siesta Key Mermaids, receives about 15 orders a week for tails, she said.
“There’s no shortage of little girls wanting to be mermaids,” Morgan said. “They’re fun around the beach, the pool … even the bathtub.”
Several times a month, Morgan’s friends also dress up as mermaids — Skye, Coral and Pearl — for publicity on the beach.
The mermaids can be rented for special events and birthday parties. The biggest customers aren’t parents wanting something original for their kids’ parties, though — they’re hotels, Morgan said. The Ritz-Carlton Beach Club requests a mermaid about once a month.
Since launching her website, siestakeymermaids.com, Morgan has received orders from all over the country, including Hawaii. The children’s suits run about $80 to $90, depending on the size.
Morgan also sells mermaid accessories, such as shell hair clips and tails for babies.
On Sunday, Aug. 3, Morgan will be holding a special mermaid swim on Siesta Key. People can rent a tail or buy one for a discounted $66. All three of her mermaid models will be present to swim with participants.
In the future, Morgan hopes to open a storefront on Siesta Key.
And Kaylee? She wears her mermaid suit all the time with her good friend, Ella. She said the suit is not hard to swim in and she likes to play in the water while wearing it.
“She loves it. She tells everybody about it,” Morgan said.