Eric Ducharme, Owner and Founder of Mertailor, LLC and Citrus County native, started making mermaid tails when he was just a child. As an eight year old, Ducharme vividly remembers watching the mermaids perform at Weeki Wachee Springs and going backstage to meet the performers. He became friendly with the seamstress that sewed the mermaid's tails and was inspired to design and make his own. Twenty years later, Ducharme is still making mermaid tails, but he's also building a strong brand and gaining worldwide exposure from a long list of high profile clients.
"From the beginning, this has definitely been my calling," Ducharme said. "In fact, it's been a childhood dream. When I was just nine, I was contracted by Weeki Wachee to make mermaid tails for their performers. I was able to take pictures of the mermaids wearing my tails which eventually led me to start selling my products online."
Ducharme continued, "In 2009, the brand Mertailor was officially created. Along the way, I supported the business with various jobs including underwater performer at Weeki Wachee and at Sea World. Today, I'm 100% focused on the business."
Mertailor produces mermaid tails and swimwear for men and women. The brand consists of three unique brands. The main brand is Mertailor. The brand that focuses on swimwear for women is called Mermaid by Mertailor. The third brand, which focuses on swimwear for men, is called Mertailor Men. Ducharme's designs have been featured in W Magazine, numerous mermaid and fairy magazines, and Marie Claire. They've also made tails for some pretty high profile clients.
"We did a tail for Lady Gaga," Ducharme said. "It was used during an onstage performance of the song, 'The Edge of Glory'. We've also done work for Disney, MTV, A&E, Vitamin Water, Saturday Night Live, a commercial for Dora The Explorer and more."
The majority of Mertailor's business is generated by word-of-mouth referrals. Everything is designed, printed and sewn in Crystal River. Ducharme is proud to operate a local business and proud to support the community he was born and raised in.
Looking ahead, Ducharme is focused on creating a larger and more useful space to produce his products. He wants to continue to grow the company and, without giving away too many details and "secrets", he's planning a move into the entertainment industry. Stay tuned.
Ducharme, who thoroughly enjoys making his customers smile and providing them with a unique hand-crafted product, offers some great advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. "Budget, budget, budget," he said. "Working capital is something that's always floating around in the back of my head. Also, live your dreams and never let anyone tell you that you can't do something."