It's been an exciting year here at Mermaid Trash! The new Brick and Mortar store is now open in Coral Springs, Florida. I also just filmed for part of a TV show with the Design Network, sponsored by Michaels craft stores, and most recently hit 100k on Instagram!
I have shared many pieces of my story over the years through social media, but I thought it would be nice to write it in a blog for the site, so it's all in once place!
To start, my journey with Mermaid Trash began over 3 years ago in 2017-18. However, my love of art has been a life long affair ever since I was a kid in elementary school and figured out I could run to the art room if I was having a tough time/day. I had a fantastically understanding and compassionate teacher who always made space for me, as well as ignited my love and passion for all things art and mixed media.
My family growing up was always supportive of me creating art, however it wasn't something that was supposed to be a "career". To my family art was a hobby, and I needed a "real" job in order to pay the bills and support a family of my own someday.
So for many years I did what I thought I was supposed to do, and repeatedly tried to fit myself into a box that I just wasn't happy with. I tried on many different hats in the attempts to find that "real" job I could live with, but one attempt after the other left me feeling completely depressed.
At 18 I was licensed as a CNA (nurses assistant), then 3 years later as a real estate agent (my moms a realtor). After realizing I hated both, I trained and worked as a bank teller for SunTrust, which was even more soul crushing. I then went to school for a year for accounting (my fathers is an accountant), and after that 4 years towards a degree in English Education. Additionally while getting my degree, I worked as a freelance photographer. Then, ironically, the first teaching job I took was as an art teacher.
So through all these years up until I became an art teacher, and we're talking 13 years here, I had been practicing my art on the side and occasionally sold some pieces to friends, family, locally or on eBay when that became a thing. Before the days of social media it was exceptionally hard to be seen as an artist, so there was that element as well. I kept art as my hobby, but especially after teaching art and loving it so much, I didn't want to give that up either.
It was in the summer of 2017 that my husband sat me down for serious discussion where he told me that it was heartbreaking to see how unhappy I was with life, and he wanted to give me the opportunity to figure out what it is I really wanted to be doing. My teaching position ended and I felt like I had a choice to make.
Sometime later, one afternoon while walking with my youngest daughter on the beach she looked around and then said to me that there is too much trash here. "How can the mermaids swim?" And so like many parents in this situation I came up with a convoluted story to calm her. I said "That trash was out in the Ocean and the mermaids brought it to shore so that we can pick it up and throw it away!" A nice sentiment, sure, but it really made me think and I decided I wanted to do more.
Looking back, it was this sentiment that spurred the foundation of Mermaid Trash. There were many more kinks to work through, but it was that day on the beach talking with my daughter that I knew I wanted to not only create art forever, but I wanted to use it to promote the importance of Ocean conservation. When people wore or displayed my art, I wanted it to be a physical representation of that commitment.
So with $250 in my pocket and a prayer, I started off on my journey with Mermaid Trash. I formed a business plan, set a launch date, and got to work creating what I could with my money. I soon re-invested the money from the sales of my first pieces into 3 areas: more art materials, marketing and advertising. The investment into myself and business began in earnest to pay off when I started combining it with teaching and conservation. Now, every single purchase from my website benefits the cleaning of our Ocean and coastlines through monthly donations to organizations like 4Ocean and Ocean conservancy.
It's been a dream come true (literally) to be where I am today with Mermaid Trash. To be able to imagine something I wanted to do since I was an actual kid, and then finally being brave enough to take the leap feels like I am fulling a life's purpose I denied myself for many years. If there is anything I could tell myself 10 years ago, it would be to believe in yourself sooner and not feel so much pressure to live up to other peoples expectations. Its ok to fail, but fail at what you love, learn from it a move forward. You can't be the best at something without knowing how to be the worst at it first. True story.