Job diary: I’m a professional mermaid who makes upwards of $250 for an appearance. Here’s how I turned my passion for cosplay into a business.

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Nymphia on the rocks photo credit Brandi Rollins

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For as long as I can remember, I’ve been drawn to the sea. Some of my earliest childhood memories as a little boy are spending time on the San Diego beaches with my mom.

In high school I began doing cosplay, attending my first event, The San Diego Comic-Con in 2009. I enjoyed sewing and costuming recreationally, so it was a great match for my interests. 

Early on, I made my own mermaid fabric costume compete with a swimmable version of Ariel’s tail.

I even wound up taking a mermaid class wearing the tail. The class taught us a series of basic swim styles such as the dolphin kick, flips and corkscrew turns.

I also enjoyed taking photographs so, at the age of 19, I combined these interests and took a job as a photo ambassador and wardrobe assistant at SeaWorld. It was 2014, the same year I’d begun doing pencil sketches of a character I’d dreamed up that I’d later call Nymphia, The Nautilus Mermaid.

Soon after, a merman friend of mine introduced me to MerNetwork, a merfolk community, and encouraged me to get involved. It didn’t take long for me to get hooked.

In 2016, I headed off to Otis College of Art & Design in Los Angeles to study fashion design. I ended up leaving after the first semester, returning to SeaWorld as a seasonal employee. 

That same year I got my first paid mermaid gig. A friend recommended me for a mermaid meet and greet at The Escondido Renaissance Faire, which was a lot of fun. I wore my Ariel tail, and together we greeted people in a grotto set-up and handed out treasure to the children. That was the day I brought my character Nymphia to life for the first time. 

It was my mom who first pointed out that this could be a business for me.

I live with my parents in Oakland and the three of us were regularly meeting in our living room, conducting informal business meetings, and discussing what it would take for me to turn this into a reality. We talked about everything from resources to costuming to budget. With their support, for the first time, I remember thinking becoming a professional entrepre-mermaid might just be an actual possibility.

From there, I joined a local group known as the Ocean Beach Mer Pod, and soon I was doing both paid and volunteer appearances. Two months after my first mermaid gig, I got certified as an Open Water Scuba Diver through PADI. I also commissioned husband and wife duo, Jim and Alicia Ward of See Through Sea, to design a custom silicone mermaid tail which cost $2,700. It weighs 36 pounds, and feels like you’re swimming with a dumbbell attached to you. It’s made of medical-grade silicone and it feels more like a prosthetic than a costume. I named her Moana. 

Silicone tails are a big investment, running between $1,000 to $6,000 depending on the maker. They are mostly handmade by small creators however there …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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