Like most kids who grew up on classic Disney movies, her fantasy started with Ariel and “The Little Mermaid.” But living in Pennsylvania made it a little difficult to get in the ocean and see if she grew a tail. Now a 23-year-old graduate student and education specialist for San Diego Coastkeeper, she has found a way to make her childhood dream a reality not only for herself but for other people as well.
Subers hosts an Airbnb Experience giving out full mermaid-makeovers (tails included) and photoshoots at La Jolla Shores Park guaranteed to make you feel like you're in Disney movie.
While it's an idea she’s always had swimming around in her head, it wasn’t until she graduated college and learned about Airbnb’s new Experiences program before the ball really started rolling.
“I almost didn’t apply because I thought they were going to think I was crazy,” she said, looking back. But she made the leap and was one of the 30 people selected out of the 2,000 that applied. More San Diego experiences have been added since, but Subers’ “Play mermaid for the day” was a part of the first cohort.
When she was first selected, she had one tail, one top, and no camera. She set out on expanded her tools and inventory with the “no money she had from college,” and started shooting. It was a slow build at first but now she’s almost always immediately booked for any days she marks available through the app. After a date is decided, Subers meets her participants at La Jolla Shores Park – or somewhere else if it’s overly crowded – and takes them to her spot on the beach where all the mermaid accessories you could ever want are laid out to choose from.
Once the makeover is complete, she’ll walk you down to the water’s edge and help you get into your tail, which is where you’ll stay during the majority of the photo shoot because “you can’t walk, and your range of motion is pretty limited.” And with the photo shoot taking place at sunset, Subers says the lighting is always good.
While some people are more “into it” then others, once she starts shooting, she says everyone tends to forget any insecurities they may have previously had and starts enjoying themselves.
“I really try to make people feel as comfortable as possible, because essentially, it’s a glorified bikini shoot,” Subers joked. “One of the most gratifying parts has been seeing people forget about their insecurities for a bit."
Watching people have fun with it is especially gratifying for Subers because she’s been there.
“I used to never feel comfortable in a bikini in public until I started doing this,” she said. “Because I realized that when you’re a mermaid, kids don’t care. They don’t care if you have a tummy or what size you are or anything like that. You’re a mermaid, and they're obsessed because you’re a mermaid. That’s really empowering.”
Subers’ photoshoots typically last about 90 minutes for 1-3 people (though she can sometimes accommodate larger groups) and cost $85 per person, with the ability to upgrade to a professional-grade tale for $105 per person. The experience includes mermaid attire to use for the shoot and 10-15 edited photos.
For more information about Subers’ mermaid experience, visit airbnb.com/experiences and search for Play mermaid for the day in San Diego.