Forget the long flowing locks, the blue lagoons, and the sea sirens. Janene Castellanos is changing the way people perceive mermaids. This mermaid-maker is mother to two young girls, ages 10 and 5, and has turned her love of crafting and sewing into a full time business.
Castellanos, 35, has been making mermaid tails since 2010. She sells them to local Miami patrons and online through her Etsy store, Miami Beach Mermaids. Formerly a realtor in Florida, Castellanos was inspired by the positive reaction she received when she made her daughters' costumes.
“I come from a family of sewers,” she said. “One day I made some tail and they really liked it, so then I did more. I change the texture a lot and play with the material, I really like to perfect them.”
Part of the reason Castellanos is managing to successfully run a full time tail-making business is due to the enduring fascination the public has with mermaids. From the Disney version to Daryl Hannah’s Splash, and the Nickelodeon show H20, where high school girls accidentally get mermaid powers, the allure reaches all ages.
“A lot of 5 year old girls are into Ariel,” said Castellanos. “She’s a cartoon fantasy character for little kids. Adults also like the h20 show, I zone out to it with my husband.”
Castellanos practices what she sews. She dons her own mermaid tail and swims around in the pool.
“It’s a big attraction every time we go swimming, all our friends go, ‘Mommy, I want a tail.”
But while she is fortunate enough to have neighbors who support her mermaid ways, some Floridian mermaids have been banned from swimming in their condominuim pools due to condo regulations.
Despite some backlash, the orders keep coming in. And she say some of the orders are stranger than others.
“I had a lady who wanted an orange tail with a mint green accent and I tried to tell her it wouldn't combine well! Colors of a pumpkin is what she wanted!”
“I made my own tail when I first started doing this,” she said. “Its a sea-foam green color and has a ruffle at the bottom.”
The public fascination with mermaids shows no sign of slowing, and in the next year we will see MORE mermaid merchandising, including a LEGO Disney Mermaid Princess playset.