Lucy Keepper feels out the consistency of the gooey mixture she’s stirring into existence and finds it lacking. She pours in a touch more liquid starch and a bit more water to the glue-based batch before adding some orange food coloring and a few drops of essential oils to give it a tangerine look and smell.
“I always just eyeball everything,” Keepper said. “I think it’s more fun that way. You can be more creative.”
Keepper, 14, has turned her family’s Lynnhurst dining room into a chemical lab. Boxes of borax and gallons of glue line the edges of a table covered with mixing bowls, packets of artificial snow, colorful clays and bundles of beads and glitter.
She’s been busy organizing the Slimesota Minnesota Slime Festival, an industry convention of sorts that will take place Sept. 21 at the Lake Harriet Preschool at 49th & Chowen. The budding entrepreneur has recruited 16 slime makers from five states to descend upon Southwest Minneapolis to trade, sell and exchange techniques and strategies for creating one of the toy industry’s biggest crazes. It’s an avocation dominated by small-scale producers, many of whom are not yet legal adults.
Originally sold in small mock garbage cans by Mattel in the 1970s, slime has ridden many trend waves and iterations over the years, from Silly Putty to Nickelodeon’s Gak. The most recent form of the stretchy, sticky, textured substance emerged around 2016, when kids started making their own slime from scratch and sharing their recipes on social media.
Keepper first encountered slime on Instagram three years ago. It looked cool and easy to make, so she grabbed some supplies and prepared a batch.
“The first time I actually played with slime was when I made it,” Keepper said.
She was hooked. After making several batches, she started selling slime with her sister, Zoey, and a friend. Eventually, the enthusiasm wore off a bit and Keepper returned to her normal pursuits like soccer.
But an on-the-pitch concussion last year has kept Keepper off the field and returned her focus to slime. In January, she launched an Etsy page to sell her slimes and an Instagram account, @curious.slimery, to promote her products, share videos and interact with other slimers. Today, her Instagram has more than 2,200 followers. If she can hit 10,000 followers, she’ll consider herself a “Slime VIP.”
Each slime Keepper makes starts with a base of Elmer’s Glue (homemade slimes have become so popular the glue company now sells slime making kits). From there she’ll add liquid starch as an activator, water and other materials. The slime varieties are endless: cloud slimes, clay slimes, fishbowl slimes, fluffy slimes, icy slimes and more. All are made by adding small amounts of substances like clay or shaving cream that tweak the texture and density of the slime mix.
Her most popular mix is a purple cloud slime infused with essential oils called Lavender Lush. Cloud slimes are made by adding artificial snow to a slime mix, which gives the substance a light, fluffy texture.
Bigger toy companies do make slime, she said, but they’re less organic. Keepper tries to be more environmentally friendly by selling her slimes in biodegradable containers and using natural essential oils instead of processed chemicals to add scents.
Locally, Keepper sells her slimes to neighbors in Lynnhurst. Slime is popular among kids 8–11, she said, so now that she’s in high school, it’s not a big item of interest among her peers. But for younger neighbors, slime remains very cool, and she’s been enlisting those neighbors to spread the word to their friends and classmates about Slimesota.
For her 14th birthday, Keepper asked her parents, Amy and Dave, for a trip to Kansas City, Missouri, to attend the Midwest Slime Festival, where she met other slime makers, traded product and got inspired to bring a similar experience home.
Slimesota has general admission ($8 online, $12 at the door) and VIP tickets, each of which allow the ticket holder’s parents to enter, too. The VIP ticket gets buyers five raffle tickets and a free slime from Keepper. The event will feature a slime raffle, a competition judged by sellers and a trading station, among other attractions. Fifteen percent of all profits from the event will go toward Secondhand Hounds, a pet rescue center in Minnetonka where the Keeppers found their family dog, Cooper.
For the past three weeks, Keepper has been signing up vendors, marketing and organizing the Slimesota Festival. She’s set up ticket sales via Eventbrite and has a Square account and system to process credit card payments.
“She’s doing everything,” her father, Dave Keepper, said. “We just drive her.”