How The Latest Viral Trend Is Becoming Big Business

Viral trends make the internet go round. No matter in which corner of the web you lurk, there is something for everyone; charity challenges, kids who have just got their wisdom teeth removed or (my personal favourite) people diving into space with a funky tune for effect. However, there is one craze that is surfacing on the explore page of literally everyone’s instagram applications. There are currently just over 2 million tagged videos of the craze, with people even setting up shops to sell it to other users – all it takes are a little bit of liquid borax and a whole lot of PVA glue. Know what it is yet?

Slime. 

From pretty pastel lumps of goo to mixtures of more glitter than slime (known as glitter crunch), there are slimes for everyone. There’s even an account who names all her slimes after different strains of marijuana. For the most part though, the craze is supported by teenage girls poking their mixture’s to create slurping sounds. Linked to ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response), people watching the videos are ’soothed’ by specific visual and audio triggers – think Dr Pimple Popper meets Art Attack.  “It’s a very weird trend, but it’s just enjoyable,” summarises Shiwani Sharma, a 20 year old student from Birmingham, who has amassed over 9000 followers due to the trend. 

Shiwani – or Shiv, for short – is better known to her followers as moonsandskylines. She first started the account to sell custom light jars in July 2016, but quickly became involved in the slime community. So what made Shiv take this move? 

“Personally, I find the texture and the sounds of slime satisfying. The colours are just pretty to look at and all the different textures are just so nice to hold and poke.”

Moonsandskylines currently offer 17 different slimes on their etsy shop, ranging from black glittery slime to clear slimes with miniature cans of red bull in them. They’re undeniably cute, which is reminiscent of the trends origins. Originally believed to have started in Thailand, the movement soon worked it’s way round to the rest of Asia. Kawaii sequins and pastel pigments were added to the mixtures and it quickly spread across the globe. 

Shiv reckons that the bigger the store, the harder it is to manage. “So far my account has been lucky with sales. I went from selling once or twice every few weeks to more recently having orders come through daily… Now I’ve reached 9000+ followers, it’s harder to keep up with orders since I’m only one person running the whole store.” 

She’s not kidding about the jump in orders either. Handmadehunt.com, a site dedicated assessing etsy accounts, have calculated a 54% increase in her sales in the past month alone. And it’s hardly a surprise so many people are cashing in on the slime train: a single slime can sell for upwards of £6. Minimum wage for 17-20 year olds is £5.55.

It isn’t just for pocket money though, some are serious business. One American ‘slimer’, Rad.Slime, claims to make $300-$400 with every weekly restock for her 382,000 followers. She’s only 13.

Like any community, there are occasional squabbles within the pack, but for the most part the slime community are “awesome… You can become friends with some amazing people.”

One sticking point (pun not intended) for users, however, is originality. Shiv herself believes “originality is important, since it keeps you interesting.” 

Hally, founder of Californian based Pearlberryslime agrees. “Originality is very important for making your own content. Similarly, creating slimes can also be like creating a piece of art to some slime accounts. People tend to like slime accounts that have their own originality, style, and creativity.” Hally, who has over 11,000 followers, believes that “sharing ideas is a very fragile aspect for the slime community, which is why it has caused so many dramas for many slime accounts.”

Many users dub themselves ‘creators’ of various slimes and expect inspiration credits when others create similar recipes. Hally continues, “Credits are a crucial part when slime accounts incorporate another slime account idea into their own slime. It can be very exciting to know that several other slimes accounts are inspired by your own idea, but they should always be honest and are willing to give credits to the creator of the idea.”

However, if like Shiv, they want to stay interesting, there is a very simple solution. “I don’t like to share my ideas because when everyone does what you do, it’s not interesting anymore.” 

When that isn’t enough however, some users like to vent their frustrations and, yes, there are accounts facilitate this. ‘SlimeConfessions‘ allows for users to send them comments and critiques of other users, before posting them up anonymously.

Their following is larger than both Shiv and Hally’s actual slime accounts combined – they have over 30,000 followers. “I think it’s strange how arguments happen because at the end of the day it’s just coloured PVA glue and a lot of people make a huge deal out of it,” laments Shiv.

“Fitting the stress and drama from school with my slime accounts and business is very challenging,” explains Hally, which is why perhaps things can become so heated.  “Not all slimes accounts have the supports they need from the people around them in real life. Fortunately, I do have several friends and family that supports what I do in the slime community.” She then raises a very interesting point, that takes us out of the slime bubble: “Every slime account has a life outside of Instagram too, so I think it can get really difficult from time to time.”

So where do these boundaries lie? The slime videos, something which start off to be relaxing and therapeutic become suddenly almost toxic for their creators. However, both Shiv and Hally agree that throughout the tension and the pressure of creating content, it’s worthwhile.”Although juggling both of my slime account and my slime shop can be really pressuring sometimes, I find that making slimes and just being in the slime community in general, is my favorite hobby and my favorite part of who I am,” confides Hally. “The slime community is a safe place for everyone to enjoy, and I definitely love how supportive everyone is when things in life happens outside of the community.”

Perhaps, that’s what it’s all about. It’s more than just pretty colours and creating content – it’s a community.  Hally summarises “throughout all the drama that happens in the slime community and all the hate that we get as a slime community, we are all still a very welcoming and proud community for everyone to enjoy.

Holly McLaren

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