Duluth Mermaid Turning Fantasy Into Business

Posted at: 01/29/2013 5:51 PM
Updated at: 02/06/2013 10:43 PM
By: Laurie Stribling

Growing up usually means leaving fantasy behind, but a Duluth girl has found a way to merge business with fairytale. 19-year-old Jessica Benson is starting a business working as a mermaid at special events and practices at the Radisson Hotel in Duluth.

She transforms into her character, Ayla, by wearing a state-of-the-art, silicone tail that cost her $3,000. Benson got the idea after being inspired by a commercial with mermaids in the ad.

"I said, 'Hey, I want to get a mermaid tail and I want to make these kids smile and believe in mermaids'," Benson said. "So, I did it. I got a tail."

A mermaid with Minnesota roots has some hurdles to jump during the winter. Benson needed warm water to practice swimming with her tail, and that's when she approached Radisson Hotel General Manager Jeff Briner.

"She said that she is a mermaid," Briner said. "I said, 'okay'."

Briner decided to let Benson use the hotel pool during the week, and invited her on Saturdays to swim with guests.

"I never thought I would have this," Briner said. "In Florida maybe, you hear about the mermaids in all the pools, but here in Minnesota we're the only ones who have a mermaid in our pool. We're very lucky."

Since getting her tail and starting her business, Benson has made a few paid appearances.

"I have been getting some gigs and my publicity goes up every single day," Benson said. "I like making kids smile and believe in magic."

If you want to hire Benson for your next event, you can visit her Web site by clicking here.