Milena Lyons says her Mermaid Life brand was born on a boat, with a decal and a pink sparkle koozie.
Lyons, who calls herself the Sea-E-O of the company, realized that there was a void in market of women’s lifestyle brands when the family boat stopped in at marinas. In the marina shops, she noticed all of the nautical-themed items were for men.
“If I wanted to buy a cool beachy shirt it would be a men’s cut shirt,” said Lyons. “I used to go, ‘Why is everything for guys?’ So I decided one day that we had to come up with a brand for women.
“Then ‘Mermaid Life’ just clicked because I love life on the water and I am on the water a lot.”
In 2015, she started working her idea by manufacturing her first products — a Mermaid Life decal and the pink drink koozie — and selling them to local shops.
Two years later, the company wholesales 150 items to about 300 retail stores nationwide from their cramped warehouse south of St. Augustine.
“We are in about 300 stores up and down the coastline all the way over to Utah, California and Hawaii. We are in the Caribbean,” said Lyons. “So it is catching on quite well.”
Mermaid Life’s product line now includes branded towels, hats, T-shirts, jewelry, scented candles, insulated tumblers and temporary tattoos. All coastal-themed and most featuring the company’s distinctive cursive logo.
Locally, Mermaid Life items can be found at the Alligator Farm, Tre’ Sebastian, LYMI Oddities, Nautilus at the Beach and the Sunshine Shop. Consumers can also buy products online at www.mermaidlife.me.
“It is interesting. You really have to pay attention to what the demand is,” said Lyons. “When we had the two products, our small group of retailers would ask us what else we had.”
She didn’t know but said she would work on that.
“It was just a matter of adding the colors to the decals, adding more sparkle to the koozie and then just listening to people and what they want and following what the demand is,” Lyons explained. “Putting in your own capital — it costs money to inventory everything but I knew I could sell it so I went ahead and took the chance.”
For an operation with a nationwide reach, Mermaid Life has a small staff of three. Lyons, who designs most of the products, works with director of sales Jenna Noland and office manager Barbara Goldberg. The women say they are working towards the goal of making the company a $10 million apparel line.
“Everything that we create are things that women want and things we like to wear,” said Lyons. “The mermaid lifestyle is really for women on the water. It doesn’t matter where you are. You could be on a lake in Utah, you could be on the lake in Michigan, you could be in the ocean here off of Florida or you could be a landlocked mermaid. It is really just for anyone who loves the water and loves mermaids.”