Project Runway Winner Discovers Mermaid Dreams in Idaho

Fin Fun Welcomes Designer Seth Aaron Henderson Aboard

Published online: Jul 10, 2020 Articles Chantelle Summers
Viewed 1253 time(s)

Seth Aaron Henderson, Project Design Lead for Fin Fun plans to expand the company’s apparel line to include resort and beachwear. Credit: Lifetime

When a recruiter sent fashion designer Seth Aaron Henderson a job listing for a Product Design Lead position—posted by a mermaid company in Idaho, his curiosity got the best of him. 

“The state’s name is what encouraged me to click,” said Henderson, the two-time winner of Emmy-winning “Project Runway” and “Project Runway All Stars.”  

“What appealed to me is that it was family owned and I really loved the story on where it started and where they’re trying to go.” 

Idaho Falls-based Fin Fun, founded by Jerry and Karen Browning of St. Anthony, entered the e-commerce scene nearly 10 years ago. Their motto “Everyone Deserves to Dream” quite literally fueled the company’s growth over the years.

What started with Karen’s granddaughter Emily asking her to sew a mermaid tail for swimming, soon evolved into an at-home eBay business. 

When demand for mermaid tails skyrocketed, it was time to move the business into a larger space—first to Fin Fun’s office on Sunnyside Road and then to Fin Fun’s much larger current headquarters on Holmes Avenue, abuzz with over 50 employees.    

“Interest in mermaids existed long before our company came along,” said Steve Browning, president and CFO of Fin Fun. “But what our company did was create an affordable mermaid tail you can actually swim in and make it accessible to hundreds of thousands of people throughout the world.”

Fin Fun expanded its offerings over the years to include swimwear, mermaid tail blankets, apparel and more. Now Fin Fun plans to expand its apparel line to include ready-to-wear resort and beach fashions under Henderson’s direction. 

“Seth Aaron is a good fit for Fin Fun because he is not only talented at what he does but he is also a genuinely nice guy,” said Browning. “We share a desire not only to be successful financially but also to be an influence for good in the world.”

Henderson brings decades of experience in the fashion industry designing clothes that have appeared on countless runways and dressed celebrities like Kylie Jenner and Alyssa Milano. He’s created exclusive clothing lines and unique products for various companies like QVC, Lord + Taylor, MILLY, and Maroo—to name a few. 

“I’ve done a lot of stuff, been a lot of places, and it’s time for a new chapter,” said Henderson. “I’ve never lived in a smaller town and I’ve never lived in Idaho. It’s different and that was the point of moving here.”

When the San Diego native moved to east Idaho with his wife Tina in the “dead of winter,” he realized just how different it was. It was cold. There was snow. But ultimately, he’s welcoming the challenge of a new environment and the opportunity to test his creative limits. 

“I live in a whimsical world. I have my own world in my head and coming into a company that’s founded on mermaids is right up my alley,” he explained. 

Mermaid-Inspired Fashions on the Runway

Henderson’s first order of business after joining the Fin Fun team in January involved creating a runway collection for Fashion Week El Paseo, the West Coast’s largest consumer fashion show, held March 16-23 in Palm Springs, Calif. 

“I was able to draw inspiration from sirens in Greek mythology and put out a collection that represents me as people know me, but ultimately relates to the company I’m now working with,” he said.

Swimming with inspiration, Henderson crafted ten high-fashion looks that channeled the dark and sinister creatures who lured sailors to their deaths with song, ultimately connecting the dots for his existing fanbase and Fin Fun’s loyal following of mermaid fanatics.

“When someone says, ‘I’m a mermaid,’ it’s like every day—that’s fashion,” he said. “We’re able to transform into someone else by what we’re wearing, the mood we’re in.”   

Each unique look combined elements of the sea for that just-emerged-from-the-ocean look he had envisioned while working in his new design grotto at Fin Fun. Like many creatives, Henderson also finds inspiration in music to get his creative juices flowing—but not just any music.  

Ask any of his coworkers and they’d tell you that the soundtrack to his mermaid-inspired runway collection consisted of ‘80s new wave—The Cure, Bananarama, New Order and the like were on replay as he pieced together his glamorous creations with strategically placed pins.

Fin Fun’s vast array of mermaid tails for swimming encompasses three main collections, including the Limited Edition line. The new Hawaiian Sun design is shown here. Credit: Steve Simonsen Photography

Fin Fun’s Future Expansion 

Henderson welcomed the challenge of fashioning a vacation-friendly, comfortable clothing line consisting of jumpsuits, rompers, dresses, and swimsuits. His new collection of resort and beach wear, slated to hit stores in early 2020, runs rampant with nautical designs that incorporate the latest trends in color, yet remain timeless in appeal.

“That’s where I want to start because it really reflects the core of the company—and then I want to expand out,” he said. 

He explained that his previous years working in advertising and marketing for companies such as Columbia Sportswear, Eddie Bauer, Keen Footwear, and more have given him valuable insight into the fashion industry as he’s learned how products are made and what really sells.  

Perhaps the number one question that’s been on the minds of diehard mermaid fans is whether or not Henderson will be designing new mermaid tails to enhance the company’s current offerings of over 40 unique designs available in sizes for kids and adults. 

He said of growing up on the beach, “I have a great fascination with aquatic life, so I love fish, sea urchins…I just love the whole world,” he said. “I could see myself designing a Limited Edition Seth Aaron tail,” he added. 

Family Adventures 

When he’s not designing the latest mermaid fashions, it’s anyone’s guess what he’s planning next. With his grown children Aaron and Megann currently attending college in another state, he plans to bring his family together as much as possible for spur-of-the-moment adventures. 

“We don’t have set ideas—we’re kind of spontaneous,” he said. “We might end up at a museum or we might end up in a park feeding pigeons.” 

“I live in the moment and today is now and I don’t even know what I’m doing tomorrow.”

 

See Fin Fun Mermaid’s YouTube channel for a video featuring Seth Aaron!

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