There are moments in time for new businesses that their entrepreneurs recognize as milestones.
For some, it means accounting for salaries without the owner having to give up their own salary. For others, the business is growing beyond its initial construction site, requiring more space and staff to service growing orders and customers.
And then it will be presented on Netflix.
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For Eric Ducharme, 33, this is a milestone. It is also a professional culmination of hard work and the fulfillment of a childhood dream of making mermaid tails and making a living from them.
Ducharme remembers watching the mermaids perform at Weeki Wachee Springs as an 8-year-old and committing to making the costumes for these artists his life’s work.
Ducharme is one of the people who will be the focus of the four-part Netflix documentary series “Merpeople,” which explores the mermaid industry, pageantry, their characters, and the businesses that emerged as an offshoot of that lifestyle. Ducharme lives and was raised in Citrus County.
Netflix has more than 230 million paying subscribers worldwide and has created nearly 900 original productions as of 2022.
The documentary series will be broadcast on May 23rd. Ducharme said he didn’t see the final production, only the trailer that Netflix released to the public.
Ducharme is contractually bound to maintain confidentiality on most of the filming at Mertailor and Mertailor’s Mermaid Aquarium Encounter in Lecanto.
“I’m honored. I’m thrilled to have been involved in a project that’s about to premiere on Netflix,” he told the Chronicle.
Ducharme said the documentary series allows him to “share my story with millions of people” and bring more exposure to his company and employees who make mermaid tails, and now includes live mermaid shows and saltwater aquariums.
The Netflix documentary series will “celebrate the mermaid community” and also allow him to continue his efforts to set an example of having a dream and creating a plan to make it a reality.
“A lot of people just fall into their careers,” he said.
But Ducharme said he planned his plan and worked methodically on it.
He said he’s confident Netflix will offer its subscribers a well-crafted documentary series about merpeople.
“I’ve always had a very genuine relationship with everyone who worked on (the documentary),” he told the Chronicle. “They (the filmmakers) wanted to tell my story.”
Ducharme didn’t always have the success he sees now when creating custom mermaid tails for high profile clients as well as for kids who want to be part of the mermaid experience for a while.
The company’s mermaid tail division celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. The first decade, while fulfilling, was also tough, he said. At that point, he was the company’s only employee and anything that needed doing fell to him.
Ducharme said he has had to take on a greater administrative role as the company has prospered and grown.
This now includes overseeing live mermaid shows, rehearsals, cast auditions, new tail designs and new materials for their construction. The company now also owns several saltwater aquariums.
When asked if he misses the previous work and has to give up some of it for administrative duties, Ducharme said that she is creative in her own way.
“Running a business is very difficult,” he said.
Balancing the financial books and overseeing a business and commercial aquarium is creative, but different from the creative process that goes into making the mermaid tails.
Ducharme said it wasn’t always easy and people didn’t always understand the concept of the mermaid industry, but he was supported and encouraged by his mother and father, who is now deceased.
“That was my destiny,” he said of his achievements.
Ducharme and that he and his partner are foster parents to a 2 year old. He said he’s learned to separate his work life from his personal life.
One of his goals now is to motivate others to follow their dreams, to be honest with themselves and others, and to know that anything is possible if you work hard.
“I want them to … look at me and say, ‘If he can do it, I can do it.'”
And that includes being part of a Netflix documentary.