When KayCee Militante's daughter became fixated on mermaids at age 3, this 33-year-old Chicago mom of two knew she'd eventually be getting her a mermaid costume.
So Militante, who works as a special education teacher, looked online for a waterproof mermaid costume, but was shocked at the prices: Most were about $250. She decided she'd make one for $40-and that once she figured out how to do it, she'd spread the love. And she did.
At JoAnn Fabrics, I found water-friendly materials, and I traced Nina onto a piece of waxed paper and designed a tail to attach. Soon enough we had a real live mermaid.
I posted Nina's photo on Facebook, and the response was incredible. I then listed some on Etsy. When I would receive an order from a customer, they almost always told me about a little girl who dreamed of having a mermaid tail, and I wanted to make that dream come true.
We just fulfilled our 2,000th order.
I take shortcuts-we have our groceries delivered and we splurge on a weekly cleaning. My mom converted her finished basement into a shop. I now have my fabric cut in a shop, and I recruited a friend to manage the customer service, since it was becoming impossible for me to do everything flawlessly.
Part of the reason we have had such a positive response is because we are small, local and personal. I love knowing who a product is for and hearing about their reaction or seeing pictures they share.
A swimmable shark costume for my son Jack, who is 2. I'll start selling them, too.
We love to spend a day out walking, and take a boat ride from Ping Tom Park in Chinatown to Michigan Avenue.
Danielle Braff lives with her two daughters and husband in downtown Chicago.
See more of Danielle's stories here.