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Mermaid fandom has exploded in numbers in recent years, with mermaids appearing in artwork, books, movies and more. These mythical sea creatures can also be found at many events, thanks to mermaid businesses.
Mermaid businesses bring the excitement of mermaids to birthday parties, pool parties, beach parties, festivals and other events. In total, there are almost 1,000 professional merpeople working full-time across the country.
Who is this business right for?
Anyone who enjoys the water and being with people may like running a mermaid business, for much of the work involves entertaining people at water-related events (e.g. pool parties, beach festivals, etc.).
While the industry is dominated by mermaids, men also can start this type of business. There are challenges for men who enter the female-dominated industry, but several mermen are having success.
What happens during a typical day at a mermaid business?
Attending an event as a mermaid involves much more than simply showing up for the booked time. Mermaids must prep themselves, drive to the location, and put on their tail (without being seen) before the event itself. After entertaining during the event, mermaids remove their tail (again, without being seen) and go home.
On a fully booked Saturday or Sunday, mermaids might do all of this multiple times. Linden Wolbert, perhaps the world’s most successful mermaid, will do up to three parties in a single day.
What is the target market?
A mermaid business’ most steady work usually comes from children’s birthday parties, so kids and parents are a good target market to initially focus on. As a business grows, business owners can pitch themselves to organizers events in the area.
How does a mermaid business make money?
A mermaid business makes money by charging booking fees. Fees are usually charged by the hour.
What is the growth potential for a mermaid business?
Most mermaid businesses remain small businesses because they’re built around the business owner’s mermaid character (see below). When the time is right, business owners might increase their fees or seek more high-profile appearances to grow their business. This strategy has proved successful for Linden, who makes appearances around the world, from Florida to Australia.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful mermaid business?
Working as a mermaid is more than simply sitting or swimming with a tail on. Business owners need to cultivate a mermaid character, with its own accent, personality and looks. General acting experience helps with this, as does mermaid-specific experience.
To get general acting training, business owners can enroll in workshops and classes near them. Many community colleges, theaters and improv groups have acting programs, and these in-person programs are often preferable to online classes.
For mermaid-specific tips, there are several resources to consult. Aqua Mermaid has an in-person training program, and local clubs, like Halifax Mermaids, sometimes offer regular classes for mermaid enthusiasts. Additionally, Linden’s Fishy Business book and So You Want to Be a Mermaid series have helpful tips.
Along with acting, mermaids must be in good physical shape. Mermaids not only are models, but they also must swim with tails that weigh up to 35 pounds and sometimes have additional weights in them. Moreover, the “dolphin kick” swimming motion is done from the hips, which requires a strong core.
What are the costs involved in opening a mermaid business?
The startup expenses for a mermaid business are manageable, with the biggest expense being the cost of a tail. Mertailor has some tails for $495, but this is the low end of the price range. A tail can cost as much as $25,000 or more.
Other marketing expenses include building a website, purchasing marketing materials and assembling the rest of a costume. Linden has lots of tips on how to make the rest of the costume inexpensively. For example, she uses fishnet stockings and blue cream to create scales. She also makes her own top, from a bra base, shells, fake seaweed and waterproof glue.
Business owners who have limited funds can lower the cost of a tail by renting one at first. After saving up, they can purchase a tail. The other expenses are minimal, especially if business owners do everything themselves.
What are the steps to start a mermaid business?
Once you're ready to start your mermaid business, follow these steps to ensure that your business is legally compliant and avoid wasting time and money as your business grows:
- Plan your business. A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. A few important topics to consider are your initial costs, your target market, and how long it will take you to break even.
- Form a legal entity. Establishing a legal business entity prevents you from being personally liable if your mermaid business is sued.
- Register for taxes. You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
- Open a business bank account. A dedicated checking account for your mermaid business keeps your finances organized and makes your business appear more professional to your customers.
- Set up business accounting. Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
- Obtain necessary permits and licenses. Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
- Get business insurance. Insurance is highly recommended for all business owners. If you hire employees, workers compensation insurance may be a legal requirement in your state.
- Define your brand. Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
- Establish a web presence. A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers. Save 15% when you create a business website with Weebly.
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
Where can I find a business mentor?
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
What are some insider tips for jump starting a mermaid business?
Working part- or full-time at a preschool, daycare center, elementary school can help get a mermaid business off the ground. Experience in these settings will help business owners become more comfortable interacting with children, and networking with parents might lead to a few gigs.
How to promote & market a mermaid business
One of the most effective ways to promote a mermaid business is through Facebook and Instagram. Mermaids are excellent subjects for photos, and mermaid photos are often liked and shared. These two platforms are especially well-suited for photographs.
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How to keep customers coming back
Business owners can set themselves apart from other mermaids in the area by developing a truly unique mermaid character. A strong backstory and engaging personality will leave memorable impressions.
Importantly, a character doesn’t have to be a traditional mermaid (although people love mermaids that comb their hair with dinglehoppers). For example, Asyun’s character is a sarcastic, baby-eating Russian mermaid. If that character works, almost any unique mermaid personality is viable.
How and when to build a team
Many mermaid business owners don’t hire employees, unless they need an administrative assistant to help manage inquiries, bookings and travel arrangements. Some business owners do contract with a professional photographer so they have high-quality images for their website and social media profiles. This is usually done on a contract basis, though.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a mermaid business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
For information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.
Maintain Personal Asset Protection
Don’t think that just forming an LLC, or any other type of business, will save your personal assets in case of a lawsuit or other matter by itself.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your LLC is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Two of the simplest steps that will protect your business, and yourself, are to:
Open a business bank account
- This separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Get a business credit card
- This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- It also builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.
How much can you charge customers?
The going rate for children’s events is reported to be $250 per hour, although this may vary some by location. Linden receives up to $6,000 per booking for special events.
What are the ongoing expenses for a mermaid business?
A mermaid business’ ongoing expenses are minimal. They include costume maintenance, marketing and transportation to bookings.
How much profit can a mermaid business make?
A successful mermaid business can bring in a significant revenue. In just one day, a business owner could have three two-hour bookings. At a rate of $250 per hour, income from this day would be $750. Even working just weekends, a mermaid business could make $1500 per week.
Linden’s rate of $6,000 per appearance is exceptional but shows how much the most successful mermaids can earn.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Mermaid business owners have found many ways to diversify and increase revenue. Linden has written a book and has many YouTube videos, and Aqua Mermaid offers courses for aspiring mermaids. Other methods include offering mermaid fitness classes and selling calendars.