Sen. Jim Risch honored Idaho Falls small business Fin Fun Mermaid on Aug. 29, presenting the company with a piece of the congressional record, the official record of the proceedings of the U.S. House and Senate.
The company produces mermaid swimsuits and fin tails, among other products.
Fin Fun has experienced astounding growth — 3,000 percent over three years, according to the Idaho Department of Commerce. The U.S. Small Business Administration named CEO Eric Browning and CFO Steve Browning the state’s “Small Business Persons of the Year” in April.
The following month, Risch named Fin Fun the small business of the month, and last week, Risch presented the business with a piece of the congressional record commemorating the achievement.
“The American dream is alive and well today,” Risch said, reading from a speech he had given on the Senate floor. “… Idaho’s small businesses, and the entrepreneurs behind them, share a dedication to producing the highest quality products and services.”
Risch toured Fin Fun’s Idaho Falls headquarters, meeting employees and learning about the company’s production, marketing and export processes.
“You export to 170 countries. Add 30 more, and you’ll export to the whole world,” Risch said in a speech at the company’s Idaho Falls headquarters.
The company started simply. Karen Browning, Eric and Steve’s mother, got a request from her granddaughter Emily to make her a mermaid outfit. Karen made one, and soon other kids were asking. She and her husband Jerry founded the business. They ran it until 2012, when Steve and Eric assumed day-to day operations.
“It’s almost surreal,” Karen said.
“It started in our home, and it grew to the point where almost every room had something in it,” Jerry said.
“It really was a home business,” Karen laughed.
The company still seeks to manufacture and purchase within the U.S. Many of the mermaid suits are manufactured under a contract with Dawn Enterprises in Blackfoot, which provides employment to individuals with mental and physical disabilities. But, Karen said, as the company has grown explosively they have had to purchase some items overseas because the American textile industry is so small.
Risch said it was innovation like that shown by the Browning family that “makes this economy great.”
“People don’t understand how important small business is to America,” Risch said.
Reporter Bryan Clark can be reached at 208-542-6751.