IDAHO FALLS — Mermaids are diving into pools across America this summer, and it all started with a mom-and-pop shop in Idaho Falls.
Karen and Jerry Browning are the founders of Fin Fun. The company originated the patented swimmable spandex mermaid tail and monofin in 2010.
In 2009 Karen’s granddaughter, Emily, asked her Grandma repeatedly to design and make her a mermaid tail. Karen had a dilemma – Emily loved mermaids, she wanted a tail, and she wanted her Grandma to make one. Even having sewn for over 50 years, she still wasn’t sure she knew how to make mermaid tails. But Emily soon showed her that with a combination of ingenuity and team work, they could do it. Their design proved so popular when the girls swam in them at the local pool, soon all their friends were asking where they could get a tail of their own. Thus began “Fin Fun Mermaid Tails,” bringing a little bit of magic to every girl that dreams of being a mermaid.
Today, the company is owned by Eric Browning (the third of Karen and Jerry’s seven children) and Steve Browning (the second of Karen and Jerry’s children.)
Fin Fun produces wearable mermaid tails, monofins, mermaid-themed clothing and accessories as well as its line of plush mermaid tail and animal-themed blankets. The company sells its products primarily online and to exclusive retail outlets in over 180 countries around the globe. In 2016, the family-owned and operated company was named to the Inc. 500 list at no. 119. Fin Fun was also recognized as an innovative e-retailer on the Internet Retailer Hot 100 list.
“Wearing a mermaid tail is a deeply engaging and formative childhood experience that kids will always remember,” says Eric Browning, CEO of Fin Fun. “The opportunity to wear a mermaid tail motivates kids to get outside, away from electronics, and learn how to swim or improve their swimming skills.”
Browning added that swimming in a mermaid tail makes a great core body workout for adults, as well.
Fin Fun identifies six essential skills that any swimmer needs to master before swimming in a mermaid tail. These are the kind of skills that a Mermaid School will teach mermaids/mermen-to-be and confirm that they have mastered in order to be “Mermaid Tail Ready:”
- Back Float- Float on back with face out of water
- Stomach Float – Float on stomach while relaxed
- Roll from Front Float to Back Float
- Tread water for at least 1 minute
- Swim 25 yards/meters unassisted without holding on to side of pool or a parent
- Master the Dolphin Kick, the main body movement used when wearing a mermaid tail, achieved by rolling or undulating the body from fingertips to toes, without separating legs or kicking
Once children (or adults) have mastered these skills, they are ready to swim wearing the mermaid tail with a monofin insert – which gives the fluke a mermaid tail shape – and makes swimming action even easier. The monofin propels mermaids through the water with fast, smooth motion, allowing users to swim up to twice as fast with little to no extra effort.
General Water Safety Tips:
- For kids, always use mermaid tail under 100% adult supervision
- Do not put the monofin on until sitting at the water’s edge. Do not try to run in the tail, or attempt to hop across the ground or up/down stairs while wearing the monofin
- Look ahead, stay focused and never swim alone
- Only swim as a mermaid in places where you would safely swim as a human
- Practice removing the mermaid tail and monofin in shallow water before swimming in it for the first time
For more information, visit www.finfun.com