My name is Hana, at the present time I’m 31 years old and I live in West London with my husband and my dog. And for over a year now, I have also been a mermaid.
I’ve always loved mermaid mythology and like most children I was obsessed with Disney’s The Little Mermaid when I was a child. A natural water baby, who loves swimming, my love of mermaids has always been about escapism, the freedom to explore and use your imagination. Unfortunately until my late twenties I thought that mermaids were just that, a figment of my imagination and something out of reach for me. Then in the summer 2015 I began to see mermaids everywhere. Ofbeat Bride, an alternative wedding planning site featured a Little Mermaid themed engagement, one of my favourite hair care products Overtone featured a beautiful professional mermaid called Mermaid Odette as a model for their spring summer campaign and I also saw a picture of Hannah Fraser AKA Hannah Mermaid, one of the world’s most famous mermaid performers on Buzz Feed. I also saw a travel program which featured Weeki Wachee Springs, a state park in Florida which is known for its live mermaid shows. It wasn’t long before I discovered free diving, and the incredible work of artists like Finfolk Productions, Merbella Studios, Mertailor and The Mernation who make realistic, swimmable mermaid tails.
To cut a long story short during summer 2016 I decided to learn how to free dive and swim in a mermaid tail. By spring 2017 I was enjoying it so much that I decided that I was going to open my own mermaid party business. I’d always wanted a job where I could use my creativity, I also knew I loved to swim and am good with children. It seemed like the perfect job for me. But apart from regularly swimming with my fabric mermaid tail, I hadn’t had many experiences of taking my mermaid persona out into the public.
My first public mermaid experience was going to Merfolk UK 2017, a mermaid convention, which was held at Dulwich College in South East London. For the first time I experienced the fun and freedom of swimming with other mer-people who loved mermaids just as much as me. I also got to see some fantastic tails. Some of them were silicone tails, made by well known mermaid tail makers, others were DIY inventions using a mixture of fabric, sequins and silicone. Not long after that, I also had a mermaid photo shoot in The Italian Water Gardens in Hyde Park with my friend Marta Bortoli who is a talented photographer. Not only did I end up with some fantastic shots to use on my website, I also experienced how much attention you can get being a mermaid! People were crowding around me and several children wanted to have their picture taken with a mermaid, who very quickly realised I must have come from the nearby Serpentine River to see them.
To get some more experience and get my name out there I decided to take the opportunity to do some public appearances at events this summer. I did a mermaid meet and greet at the Pagan Pride UK Fesitival in Nottingham and the Angel Canal Festival in Islington, London. I was blown away by how positive the experience was. The majority of children thought that I was a real mermaid and were very curious about how I got to the festival from the sea (the ones that didn’t agreed it was fun to use your imagination and pretend I was). It was an absolute joy to see the looks of excitement and wonder on the children’s faces and to give them the dream come true experience of meeting a real mermaid. There were quite a few adults who wanted their photograph taken with a mermaid as well and I left the day on a high.
Since the summer has ended I’ve been lucky enough to open Mermaid Isla as a business and start doing my first children’s parties, on land and in the water. I’ve had really positive feedback from parents, who are happy to see their children get a “dream come true” experience of meeting a mermaid, and while the children haven’t given me any formal feedback, the look of excitement on their faces says it all. For the first time in my life, I’m beginning to feel lucky to be doing a job where I can make the most of my creativity and make other people happy as well.