Born just one day apart in 1980, Jason Arriola and Will Regan have been friends since they started skateboarding together at age 16. They spent a good portion of the next several years skating up and down the coast in North County.
Fast forward to 2012, when a company the two created together, based on an idea for an innovative product, needed a name.
“I was looking at other (company names), the way the words looked, and then for some reason Cardiff jumped out at me and it just kind of stuck,” said Arriola, who explained that in addition to skating in and around Cardiff-by-the-Sea, he and Will had also spent many nights enjoying downtown Encinitas.
“I don’t know why Cardiff popped up in my head then, but it did. The name just sounds soft and smooth.”
And so Cardiff Products, which now has an office in Vista, was officially born. Its first popular product, the Cardiff Travel Headrest — a head rest for kids or adults to sleep more comfortably in a car — is available now and his been selling like hotcakes (it’s available in nearly 20 countries). Coming next is Cardiff Wings, a version to use during airplane travel.
The whole idea, however, came out of Arriola, his wife Sandy and twin boys Jacob and Gabriel driving home from a day at the beach in 2012.
The twins, who are now 9 years old, were falling asleep in the back seat and literally bumping into each other as their heads drooped to the side. What started as Sandy’s cute video of her two sons and their noodle necks, turned into inspiration for Arriola, 36, and his buddy Regan, who by then was Arriola’s brother-in-law after marrying his sister Megan.
“Maybe like three weeks later, I was just sitting around in my kitchen with (Will) … and the idea just popped into my head, wouldn’t it be cool if there was some type of head rest that you could move, that your child could rest their head on,” Arriola said.
Even though Regan didn’t have any kids at the time — now he has 4-year-old Shaw and 2-year-old Shane — the idea resonated with him nonetheless and the two decided to pursue making the product.
They had another idea for a name that fell through just a week before the first trade show where they planned to introduce the product, so Arriola racked his brain and came up with the Cardiff Travel Headrest. At that first trade show, and others, the product was a hit.
“We had a really good first trade show, people wanted to buy the prototype (that they had made in a garage),” Arriola explained. “We (knew then) that when we go to production and get our factories in China to make this, people are going to be like ‘Wow.’ So we were excited by that.”
At that first show, the members of the research and development team from baby product giant Graco were impressed by the Cardiff Travel Headrest and at ensuing shows, distributors from 10-15 other countries made on-the-spot purchase orders to buy the product in bulk.
In the U.S., the product continues to be successful through online sales — over 100,000 units have been moved — and is available in stores such as Bed, Bath & Beyond, Babies R Us, Target and Walmart.
Even back in 2012, Arriola and Regan knew the idea could also work on airplanes. And now, after the success of the Cardiff Travel Headrest, the company is adding Cardiff Wings to the mix.
While they will work with distributors in those other countries that they already have relationships with, in the U.S. they plan to bring Cardiff Wings straight to the consumers.
“People use crazy contraptions to try to sleep on planes,” Arriola said. “When we came up with this, it’s so simple. It’s easy to use and you won’t be embarrassed to use it. It won’t be a distraction to (other travelers). We wanted to make it look like it was part of the seat.”
The gadget is lightweight, attaches to any plane seat and provides an adjustable, comfortable pad to rest your head to the side.
The company is using Kickstarter as a way to raise awareness for the product, and that website is https://kck.st/2bh0KeC. For more information on the company and the Cardiff Travel Headrest, visit www.cardiffproducts.com.