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Thread: MerNation: A Review of a 5 Star Company (lots of photos)

  1. #1
    Senior Member Pod of The South WavyMermaidy's Avatar
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    Red face MerNation: A Review of a 5 Star Company (lots of photos)

    *I want to preface this by saying that I know I am a very wordy writer, but I figure when you are doing a review it is best to be thorough and tell the whole story so you really get an idea of what to expect and how things went.*
    However, if you just want the facts and don’t care about the story here it is:


    5 STARS for EVERYTHING…quality of tail, speed of service, quality of customer service, etc…so if you’re wanting a silicone (or fabric) tail you might as well just click over to your email and send them one at themernation@gmail.com to get started on your dream tail right now!!!

    For those that want a quickish summary:
    Michael, Erin, and Lauren of MerNation are such a pleasure to work with. They respond promptly to emails and texts, communicate frequently over the course of the design and production process, and work very hard to make your dream tail come to life. The speed of production that I experienced combined with the quality of the finished product is quite amazing. Even a somewhat drastic change in color design late in the game (my own indecisiveness) was handled extremely graciously and with gorgeous results. I feel like didn’t just become a client but also gained 3 new friends during the process (as well as a truly freaking amazing kick-a** tail!!!!). I honestly can’t say enough about what a pleasure this tail-buying experience was for me, and I encourage you to contact MerNation if you are interested in purchasing a quality tail with extra quality customer service.

    Aaaand the long version:

    BACKSTORY (you can skip this if you’d like of course)

    So, I have a fabric tail (made by me) that’s about a year old and a neoprene/latex tail (FishButts) that’s about ¾ of a year old, both of which I really like. However, my fabric one is starting to need some repairs/touchups, and there are things I dislike about using my latex one for the more frequent public appearances I’m doing due to my work (i.e. people having latex allergies; the extreme stickiness of it; it's way too big in the waist; the noticeable seams, etc).

    Last fall I started a great job that has given my husband and I some extra $$ that we didn’t expect to have, so I started saving some of it for eventually getting a silicone tail for the more frequent public appearances and such that I want to be doing. We are very thrifty, so this was a hard decision…but ultimately I figured if I’m using it to help educate kids, promote ocean conservation, etc. (all part of my paid job as well) then that makes me personally feel a little better about spending the money…especially since we don’t spend much $$ on other things anyway. Not to say you have to legitimize getting a tail in that way or that you need a silicone tail to do public stuff, but it was just my own personal thing.

    So I began my research in April. I had met Raven (Merbellas) and Jesse (Mermaid Creations) at MerPalooza last year and liked their work as well as their personalities. I decided I wasn't ready to spend over about $1,000 so initially it was between Jesse’s basic full silicone tail and Raven’s basic partial-silicone tail. Jesse was booked up for about a year, and Raven was (is) swamped but seemed more likely to take new orders sooner. So I waited, patiently, for about a month, for her to take new basic orders, but no such luck. So then I stumbled upon Mermaid Cydney’s review for MerNation (which I hadn't heard of before then), and I finally was at the point I was willing to spend more money (2,500) for what was reportedly fantastic customer service and the guarantee of having a tail much sooner that should last for quite a long time with proper care. Thus, the journey began.

    INITIAL INQUIRY/ORDERING

    One morning in early June I sent a Facebook message to their page as well as an email with general inquiries, and I got a very prompt reply via Facebook as well as an email with additional information. Within just a few hours of my initial inquiry I made the decision to order and had an invoice, customer agreement, and ordering/measuring information in my email inbox. I couldn’t believe how quickly and personably they had responded, and it made me super excited to begin the process. Plus, I have the fortune of living in Florida, so I was able to actually go over and get measured by them in person.

    MEETING THE FOLKS OF MERNATION

    Michael, Erin, and Lauren are the people behind MerNation, and they all work in the dive department of Florida Aquarium. Michael is a super talented artist that didn’t know too much about the mer-community when they started the company. Erin and Lauren are two of the performing mermaids at the aquarium, and my hubby and I were lucky to be there on World Oceans Day (the day after I got measured) so we got to see them perform…which they only usually do for special events like that. Michael also showed us around the aquarium, which was awesome because we had never been there before.
    These guys are truly wonderful people who are committed to working with you and are truly excited about creating tails. I was really lucky to be able to meet them and work with them in person, and I know that really added another dimension to the experience overall.

    MEASURING

    MerNation asks that their clients make and send in a duct-tape dummy to facilitate more successful measurements and overall fit, and they send a guide to tell you which measurements to take and how to make the dummy. As I said, I was lucky enough to go over and have it done by them…made me feel less anxious about getting a good fit. I went over to Tampa and had this done by them just a few days after receiving the invoice, and they sent me an email the day before with some tips on what to wear and what would happen during the process. They took measurements around me every 3 inches with my feet in the monofin (I got a Wave monofin, which comes standard) and then had me step into an open-ended garbage bag which then had duct tape wrapped tightly around. Here’s a photo of me with Michael and Erin during this process:
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    DESIGN
    I decided to send photos of color schemes and tails that I like and asked them to just run with it. They said they would be happy to do that, but they emailed me a sketch of their tail shape early on so I could play around with color designs anyway and bring them to the measuring session if I wanted to. I wasn’t going to, but I did anyway and ended up coming up with what would be the overall design. It was kinda fun…I printed out a bunch of the sketches to work on. And let me tell you, the finished product looked JUST like what I had colored on the sketch that I finally decided on, so while I’m sure they can do wonders being inventive with a color scheme they can DEFINITELY take your idea and bring it right to life.

    PRODUCTION

    During the production of the tail, I got several text messages with photos of the progress…this included a photo the morning after the measuring saying they had already started work on my tail that day! Wow, that was impressively fast! After that I got to see the tail when it was put together and then a few photos of the paint progression. I began to get really excited to see “MerNation Michael” pop up on my phone whenever I got a text!!! I didn’t end up getting a final photo before I picked up the tail, so it was kindof a surprise, but I’m sure you can ask for more photos if you need/want. I ended up having a change of heart on one of the colors I had chosen after it was done, and on the second go-round with the paint change I got lots of photos from one side of the tail so I could approve them for the other side.


    As for production time, MerNation quotes a 3 month production time from full payment to delivery but states that they have been getting them out a lot more quickly as was certainly the case with mine. I prefer not to say the exact time it took for my tail because I know circumstances change and so many variables will affect production times for different tails…let’s just say I got really lucky kindof being between orders, and my tail was done in less than a month…and that’s after making a last minute somewhat drastic paint change that required the tail to be taken back into the shop for more work. And of course the final product is anything but a rush job…the quality is superb.


    DELIVERY

    Now, of course my situation is somewhat unique in that I was able to come pick up the tail because I live about 2.5 hours away from Tampa. Michael and Erin were out of town, but Lauren arranged to meet me for a swim at a private pool. I gotta say that’s an awesome way to receive your tail…much preferable than waiting like a crazy person for UPS!! She was able to help me get the tail on for the first time and give me tips about that as well as take underwater photos and video of my first swim. We spent about 2 hours during this swim, and it was so much fun. I know they have done that for at least one other Florida client…I can’t emphasize how neat of an experience this was. It made the whole thing very personal and special. Here's a photo of the tail the day I picked it up
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    OOPS…WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE CHRONICALLY INDECISIVE!

    So after I got the tail I realized that the color I had chosen for the fluke tips (gold) didn’t thrill me as much I had thought…it was NOTHING that MerNation did wrong because, as I mentioned before, the paint job was just as in my colored sketch. This is one reason I was hesitant to make my own design because I don’t really consider myself too great of an artist and can’t really visualize how things will fit together in real life. Don’t get me wrong, the tail was stunning, but I just wasn’t digging the gold tips as much as I had thought. I kept thinking maybe I made it too bright or I should’ve asked for it more coppery and that it was too much of a drastic contrast (even though it highlighted the fluke, which was cool). I was going for somewhat peacock inspired, and it just didn't seem that way with the bright gold. What it really came down to was that I loved the green that was at the top of the tail so much and I felt that this color needed to be represented in the fluke. I’ve seen flukes on nice tails that are totally different designs/colors than the tail body, but for some reason I was just seeing a disconnect between the tail body and fluke that I wasn’t happy with. So, with a very heavy and embarrassed heart I texted Michael the day after I picked up the tail that I wanted to bring it back for a paint change, offering to pay whatever it took to change it.
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    They were so lovely in making me feel better about myself for making the change, and they took on the challenge without apparent hesitation. It took almost a full day of painting to change it over, but the results are stunning and the time in which the change took place was quicker than I thought. Super soon after making the change my hubby and I were back on the road to Tampa for the final pick up from Michael and Erin. Everyone seemed to really like the color change…it was almost like a new tail!! It did cost extra for the paint and time, and I know they felt bad about charging it but I absolutely understood as it was my own fault for changing my mind, so I felt it was very worth it to pay some extra…for what ultimately was tail perfection, in my opinion.


    THE TAIL!!!!!!

    OMG I can’t say enough about the tail. It’s stunning, fits perfectly, and flows so nicely in the water. Everything I asked for was done: the blended waist, the metallicness of the colors blended somewhat like tie-dye, vibrant colors without being too busy, etc. I wanted a very faintly blended/nude waist, just the hint of blending near the top, and that’s just how it came out. The colors are so gorgeous, and they can look different depending on the light…it’s totally cool!! Every picture I have the colors look different. I have lot of photos, but this one I took in my bathtub after rinsing it just shows off some of the colors nicely (even though it's kinda bunched up b/c it's obviously too long for the bathtub)...it also shows the blending at the waist that is just how I wanted it
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    It is my first silicone tail (and it is Dragonskin Platinum cure silicone, just FYI), and I haven’t gotten to handle many others to compare it to, but to me it is amazing. They gave me a little square swatch of silicone scales on the day I got measured, and it was fun to have that to handle before getting the tail since I hadn’t really felt many silicone tails before (I carried it everywhere and showed it to people!) I also got a simple netting belt with my tail as well…fun little extras are always nice. The silicone has a very fine netting/mesh backing (NOT neoprene) that helps with the durability of the tail. It is heavy, somewhere between 30-35 lbs, but of course is neutrally buoyant underwater (it’s kinda cool to be able to just hang there underwater, not really sinking or floating). The fluke has very tiny slits for the water to drain out...can't even tell they are they unless you are looking...even then they are hard to find. The fluke shape is very unique, and I love the way the extended tips flow underwater. Here are a couple of the first day of swimming with the original coloring.
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    As mentioned above, I chose the Wave monofin because that’s what I’ve had for my other 2 tails, so I know it works/propels well, fits right, and doesn’t hurt my feet. Not gonna lie, I was majorly considering the Competitor (which of course MerNation can absolutely do for an additional cost) but I’m super glad I stuck with the Wave. Makes it hard to lift the fluke when out of the water, but for having happy feet I’m willing to compromise! Oh, and you CANNOT tell that there is a Wave monofin in there...I mean, no outline of the shape whatsoever. I know it's in there, and if you really press around you can find the thick edges where the sides of the blade come out from the foot pocket, but I'll be damned if I can figure out where the rest of the edges are. It's AWESOME!!!
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    I did not request extra fins, but I know that they can do them, again for an additional cost. I’ve seen some photos of dorsals (which look awesome, I just didn’t personally want any extra fins), and I’m not sure if they are doing heel/hip/etc fins yet but they are probably heading in that direction depending on client requests.
    As I said, my first swim was with Lauren so she gave me tips right then and there for putting on the tail as well as sharing a little bottle of diluted hair conditioner to assist in this endeavor. I’ve read stories of people taking 10, 20, 30 or more minutes to put on a tail (!!!) but I had mine on in less than 5 poolside on a yoga mat. I tried it on a different day actually in the water (without conditioner) and found that it had been easier to do it dry with the diluted conditioner as on the first day, so that’s probably what I’ll tend to stick with when possible.
    And then, man, when you hit the water you can almost hear the “schloop!” as it suctions to you. I’m glad I got them to measure me in person because the fit is wonderful, the tail as a whole stays in place, there is very little (if any) gaping at the back except maybe during an initial deep dive, but even then it seems to stay put as far as I can tell. This photo shows about as much gapping as it gets, and I was diving down.
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    It sits just where I wanted it on the waist so I don’t show my butt to the world when sitting and I cover my tummy but yet it's not all up in my chest either. It fits right where we measured.
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    There is one wrinkle at/around the ankles that is hard to stretch out, but I know that’s a very common issue with silicone tails and doesn’t bother me (pointing the toes does a lot to get rid of it temporarily). Also, I did notice in some of the early photos that the heel is not very noticeable in this tail, which is totally awesome! I mean, you’re going to see a bit of the heel protruding in almost every tail, but for some reason they look somewhat less noticeable in this tail than in others I’ve seen…super stoked about that! This photo shows my toes not pointing and still the heel area seems more rounded and not sticky-outy
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    The seams are also blended in quite nicely as well.
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    Also they do put a little stamp of their logo, which is a starfish, on the corner of the fluke (one in back an one in front). I thought at first it was just a little dent but upon closer inspection this is what it looks like. I think it’s pretty cute myself…like a little starfish kiss
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    Bottom line, this experience has been fantastic, and I am truly happy with the gorgeous tail that is now in my possession.

    Shelling out the money was admittedly very hard, but I don’t spend a lot elsewhere on cars, electronics, clothes, alcohol, etc…so it seemed worth it to me overall after much consideration. I feel that spending it on a company who has such genuine enthusiasm for creating tails and for making their customers extremely happy was worthwhile as well. Also, they just announced they will be donating some of their profits from the silicone tails to charities aimed at water safety education for children, which is totally awesome

    MerNation also sells other items such as fabric tails, sequin tops, jewelry, and crocheted baby tails as well as having a tail repair service for any type of tail purchased from anywhere.

    As of now they are planning to be at MerPalooza this year, so stop by and meet them if you’re attending!! As they continue to get exposure and put out top-notch products they will only get busier and busier, so now’s probably a great time to inquire about a tail if you are ready. I hope everyone has as good an experience as mine has been.
    Last edited by WavyMermaidy; 07-01-2013 at 03:05 PM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Euro Pod
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    The fluke shape! <3 droools!



  3. #3
    SO great, omg, Wavy, it looks AMAZING! Love the fit on you and the colors suit you so well, too! You're rocking that tail, ugh, it's so gorgeous... <3 I was wondering about it as I saw the pictures of it on the FB and was actually just about to PM you about it. Ugh, it's so pretty, we've got to get a swim together soon! All my camps are finished up until the end of the month.

    SO pretty and detailed!!

  4. #4
    Senior Member Pod of The South Blondie's Avatar
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    I am AMAZED at how wonderful this tail is. I cannot believe there aren't more MerNation tails out there. This is GORGEOUS and probably one of the prettiest and realistic tails I have ever seen! Congratulations!

  5. #5
    Senior Member Pod of Cali Ashe's Avatar
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    I love it! I think I might look into getting one of these in the future
    she believed she could so she did
    formerly known as Kalani
    FaeNetwork.com


  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Blondie View Post
    I am AMAZED at how wonderful this tail is. I cannot believe there aren't more MerNation tails out there. This is GORGEOUS and probably one of the prettiest and realistic tails I have ever seen! Congratulations!
    There aren't more because everyone's convinced they need a Raven tail If I did silicone, these guys and the FinFolk girls have me convinced that other makers are just as good and not as bogged down.
    Feel free to friend me on Facebook

  7. #7
    Senior Member Pod of The South WavyMermaidy's Avatar
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    Thanks, guys!

    And Emma, yes we totally have to get together soon!!!!

  8. #8
    It looks so squishy. :P

  9. #9
    Gah, this is gorgeous! I love the new paint job!

  10. #10
    Lovely tail I just love that starfish on the fluke very unique almost like you belong to a merfamily that will soon get bigger.

    I think I've finally found whom I will choose to make my tail in the future.

    Thanks for your story it sure helped me plus the shipping charges won't be so high as I happen to live in Florida myself.
    User formerly known as "Deep Sea Siren".

    "One day I'll no longer be a stranger to the sea.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Pod of The South WavyMermaidy's Avatar
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    Hi Deep Sea...glad the review helped you out. I know when you do finally order a tail it will be a fabulous experience...and yeah, it helps to live in Florida especially if you decide to go over there for measuring and picking up the tail - both of which I HIGHLY recommend

  12. #12
    That tail is sooo beautiful!! Very jealous right now!! The colours and the sparkle and the shape! Wow!

  13. #13
    Senior Member Pod of The South WavyMermaidy's Avatar
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    Thanks...yeah, the shape and colors and everything are really beautiful...even better in real life. I'm thrilled with it

  14. #14
    Woo! when I finally get the money purchasing a tail will be a very satisfying experience!
    User formerly known as "Deep Sea Siren".

    "One day I'll no longer be a stranger to the sea.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Union of Pods of the North Marie-Josie Cayer's Avatar
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    MerNation makes beautiful tails! I wish best for your mermaiding and may it bring joys for years to come! Bravo!

  16. #16
    Senior Member Undisclosed Pod PearlieMae's Avatar
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    What a wonderful tail! You look amazing in it! A lot of love and pride went into that! Swim in it in good health!

  17. #17
    That's pretty awesome. For what it's worth, I kind of went "That's great, but why is there a big dent in the fin?" It was kind of the second thing I noticed. The second thing you notice on a really great-looking tail shouldn't be misconstrued as a flaw. The logo thing is a nice idea, but I'd rethink that.
    Serious Sirenetics

  18. #18
    I noticed it a lot too on the first picture--I bet you don't notice it underwater though all that much. I do think the logo thing like you said is really cool but it might be better on the inside or at the top, I dunno. There just isn't anywhere super convenient on the tail :P

  19. #19
    Living things don't generally have logos on them, really.
    Serious Sirenetics

  20. #20
    Senior Member Pod of The South WavyMermaidy's Avatar
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    Yeah, I didn't love the logo at first because with the original paint job it had purple paint in the logo on the gold background, so it really stood out. With the new paint job you can't even notice it, and no one during any of my public stuff has ever said anything. It doesn't bother me, but I do think it needs to blend in colorwise...and I think putting it up in one of the scales near the waistband or somewhere might be better for the future.

    I'm sure if that was the one thing that someone didn't like about their tails that they would be willing to move it or nix it altogether...never hurts to ask.

    By the way, thanks PearlieMae and Marie-Josie...very sweet comments
    Last edited by WavyMermaidy; 08-12-2013 at 09:42 AM.

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