With a carpet-loving dad, a knack for social media and a sprinkle of luck, acting sophomore Jill Young had all the ingredients for internet fame.
Christmas came early for Jill, who tweeted that all she wanted for the holidays was for her dad’s passion project — a quirky, hotel carpet-filled Instagram account — to go viral. Bill Young’s account had about 100 followers at the time the tweet was posted and now has over 280,000.
“It was so fun (to watch),” Jill said. “I think I had about five phone conversations with him yesterday just laughing, excited and kind of just in disbelief about the whole thing.”
Bill, a corporate pilot and photographer, started the “@myhotelcarpet” Instagram account in 2015 as an unconventional way to document his travels.
“I started noticing in all the hotels I stayed in, how obnoxious the carpet was — crazy shapes, squiggles, that kind of thing,” Bill said. “I made the … account, and after two years of careful cultivation, it was up to me and about 83 followers.”
After seeing how excited her father got by gaining a few followers, Jill said she had the idea to post the tweet so he could get the attention he deserved. Mr. Young was sitting in his pilot training class when his account began to take off.
“I had my phone ringer turned off, but it was on vibrate,” Mr. Young said. “My phone was just melting in my pocket. I had to take a break in class and go to airplane mode … like this can’t keep doing this or my phone is going to explode.”
Jill’s friend, Erik Martinez, was one of more than 8,000 people to retweet her tweet.
“It’s hilarious,” said Martinez, a theatre and dance and radio- television-film junior. “(People) obviously love the carpets, but I also think that they love that it’s run by a dad.”
Martinez and Jill are on the UT improv team together, and it’s Jill’s dream to one day make it big. She said her dad is one of her biggest supporters, from helping with school work to taking her headshots, and she’s glad she could pull this off for him.
“I thought it would be really cool if I could get people to support him, even if it was through some silly Instagram thing,” Jill said. “I love my dad, and the fact that some of the world loves him too makes me really happy.”