Updated: Nov 8, 2019
So, what is the story behind the Five Enchanted Mermaids? And what do the creators love most about it?
Jackie Bunn and Lois Petren have been friends for over 35 years. They met in Princeton, N.J. back in the early 1980’s. Each of them got married, had careers, had a couple of kids (each), shared in each other’s life experiences and moved around a bit – Lois to Pasadena, CA and Jackie to St. Croix. In spite of the geographic and time zone difference, there’s always been a thread of friendship connecting them across the miles.
Jackie had two children and decided to leave her job to be with them during their elementary school days. After her sons went off to college, she resumed a business she had created, called LifeMadeSimple, LLC, which provided marketing consulting services, as well as some on-line businesses. In 2017, she started selling merchandise through Amazon and focused on party products.
She noticed the lack of diversity in party products and wanted to address this, so she commissioned a unique design – an ethnically diverse group of five mermaids, including a mermaid of color – which became the “Five Enchanted Mermaids”.
Enter Lois, now a mother of two girls.
Lois had recently retired from a career in IT with a major retirement services company. During the couple of years prior to her retirement she had authored and self-published six children’s picture books under the series name “Lulu and Lainey”. She was selling the books on Amazon and promoting them via Amazon and social media.
Jackie had the idea that the mermaids needed a back story and contacted Lois to see if she would be interested in a collaboration to write books featuring the group. Lois enthusiastically said yes. During the course of several conference calls the concept of the Five Enchanted Mermaids was fleshed out.
I asked each of them to share with me the things they love most about the Five Enchanted Mermaids. This is what they told me:
I love (and am most proud of) the fact that our customers love our unique message on diversity, and living in today’s real multiethnic world. The books and products based upon the Five Enchanted Mermaids promote values of inclusion and love which the world certainly needs today more than ever. We believe that every child deserves a mermaid that looks like them! They have thanked us for offering party products that reflect the backgrounds of their child's party guests and their family members!
In addition to loving the very cute mermaid characters and their underwater friends which are so beautiful and colorful with some great personalities and traits, adult readers of our books appreciate that we present age appropriate valuable lessons that are gentle conversation starters while child readers are simply mesmerized by the stories and the mermaids!
One of my favorite elements in the world of the Five Enchanted Mermaids is the artwork used on our products and in the books. I think the jewel-tone colors of the mermaids’ tails and tops against all their different skin tones, set in the gorgeous turquoise of the undersea world and creatures of Atargatis look so beautiful together.
Creating this world has been so much fun! The use of simple line drawings, coupled with intense colors and flattened shapes was a conscious choice to ensure that the images would feel inviting and relatable to young children. We wanted characters that a child could draw, if they chose to, so that their imaginations would be transported into the mermaids’ world.
As I write a book I’m envisioning how I want the images to look on the page. I send instructions on to the illustrator based on these inspirations and it’s always exciting to receive back the drafts. Successfully translating these ideas onto the page provides a lot of satisfaction, especially when we get feedback from customers and readers that shows our message resonates with them.
I decided to add my own thoughts to this:
The aspect of the Five Enchanted Mermaids that I love most is the way they provide a backdrop to the development of toddler girls (3 – 7 years of age) through these difficult and important years. It is at this age a child starts to develop independence skills and establishes the traits that they will depend on for the rest of their lives. I call this age range “becoming you” rather than earlier when they are very dependent on their parents. The stories provide a vehicle for parents to teach their little ones the skills and attitudes they need to understand and, as they grow, enable first “reading along with Mom”. The Mermaids provide an imaginary world which is safe, interesting and fun. The products address the needs of little girls at this age – party sets, “first” backpacks and fleeces, which provide a linkage to the Mermaids while offering the highest quality products which we designed and manufactured with these little girls’ needs in mind. The Mermaids aim to provide an integrated set of books and products which teach the right things and allow little girls to associate with imaginary personalities covering a diverse range.
The Five Enchanted Mermaids were first developed in September 2018 and the product line now comprises three books, a coloring and activity book, a birthday party supplies set, two toddler backpacks (pink and purple) and a fleece throw blanket. More books and products are planned for early 2020. Join our community at www.fiveenchantedmermaids.com for updates on new product and book releases as well as member discount coupons.
All products and books are available in the Five Enchanted Mermaid store on Amazon and make great holiday gifts and stocking stuffers for any little girl who loves mermaids and especially The Five Enchanted Mermaids!