By Ronald D. White
Los Angeles Times
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) It was during a family vacation in Anguilla that the idea for “Funboy” (inflatable pool floats) took shape. Social media sharing was exploding. The two founding couples thought, why not create a fun product like pool floats that people would share with each other online?
Katy Perry admires a sunset as her inflated seahorse waits nearby. Demi Lovato lounges on a pair of giant red cherries amid impossibly turquoise waters. Wiz Khalifa somehow stays afloat on a flamingo despite all that bling.
As celebrities and regular folks fill the web with selfies aboard fanciful inflatables, it makes sense that some entrepreneurs helping pump up the craze live in a spot known for sun, pools, fame and narcissism: Los Angeles.
“When people think of summer, we want them to think of Funboy,” said Blake Barrett, one-fourth of the company’s founding group, which also includes his wife, brother and sister-in-law. “We want to be part of the best days of the lives of our customers.”
The two couples were vacationing in the Caribbean when they first got the idea. And they were partying on the Fourth of July shortly after launching their small collection when they got the celebrity endorsement that blew up the business.
Taylor Swift, they learned, had loaded her Instagram feed with shots of well-known swimsuit-clad friends celebrating Independence Day 2015 aboard Funboy’s swan, flamingo and Pegasus floats. Swift captioned them: “Swan squad.” The snaps went viral.
“Our company had been open for three weeks. We didn’t even know who made the order,” Max Barrett said.
“That summer was so humbling,” he said. “There were people coming to Taylor Swift’s concerts bringing our pool floats, like trying to re-create the pool experience, and from there, it just caught on naturally.”