Lenexa middle schooler Sophia Chapman has turned her slime-making hobby into a growing business that demands scientific knowledge, mathematics skills and good business sense to turn a profit.
For the past few years, Chapman has spent hours and hours in her workshop in her parents’ basement, making all her slimes from scratch and experimenting with new strategies that make it stretch and pop in various shapes and textures.
“About a year after I had started playing around with it, I decided that it would be cool to share my creations with other people and earn some money for still doing what I love to do,” she said.
Fast-forward to present day: She has just completed her first year in business as owner of Kansas City Slime Company. Now, she has her own Etsy page where she markets and ships her products.
She first started selling her products around July 2018, at first to her classmates at Lexington Trails Middle in USD 232. One time, her grandparents bought 250 slimes to donate to Fire Safety Week at school.
Her slimes function as a play toy, stress relievers or fidget device, depending on the customer’s need. So far, she maintains a 5-star rating and has 70 admirers on her Etsy page.
“I hope they can enjoy it and it makes them feel good they got what they paid for and that they can share it with their friends,” she said.
How the slime works
She makes everything from scratch, starting with a base of glue that has polyvinyl alcohol. The PVA-based glue reacts with an activator such as Borax laundry detergent mixed with water, or contact lens solution and baking soda. She creates her own slime recipes using various colors, scents and textures to find the best products for her customers.
“We’ve just been really impressed with how willing she’s been to invest her time and learn about budgeting around this, because it’s a lot of math,” said Cari Chapman, adding that her daughter also came up with her own refund policy. “She’s really taken ownership of it and manages the conversations with customers on her own. She’s really been quite mature about it.”
Besides learning the science behind her slime products, Chapman is also gaining money management skills. She now knows how to turn a profit and, with the help from her father, Kit Chapman, she makes sure to put money from sales back into her business.
“I’ve made quite a bit of profit,” she joked.
Kit Chapman said he couldn’t count how many hours his daughter has spent in the workshop, testing new products. She’d be up in the morning before school working, and go right back to it when she got home after school. He helped her launch the Etsy shop — it was his daughter’s idea to go on Etsy in the first place — so it’s been a learning experience for him as well.
“It’s been great being able to teach your kid about profit and saving money and going to the store with, at the time, an 11-year-old,” he said. “It’s been a great way to learn about business and that you can’t just spend all of your money because you have to buy more supplies.”
Chapman is starting seventh grade this week. While business is booming, she assured that she’ll have time for both schoolwork and her side gig.
“I want to just be able to have it grow a little bit more because I want people to know about it and be like, ‘Oh I have a slime from her,’” she said. “I want it to be a cool thing that people know about.”
Chapman recalls feeling nervous when she first started telling her classmates about her business; she was worried they’d make fun of her. But nobody has teased her, and some of them are now her customers.
“I would just say as advice for anyone like a young person starting a business, don’t be embarrassed about what you’re selling if you’re passionate about it,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what other people think, as long as it works for you.”