How teen entrepreneur Jungmin Kang built a multi-million dollar slime business

Retail Gets Real episode 327: Founder and CEO of Snoopslimes talks about starting her business at 13 years old and inspiring other entrepreneurial teenagers
Sheryll Poe
NRF Contributor

What’s the secret behind building a fast-growing and successful business? For Snoopslimes founder and CEO Jungmin Kang, inspiration came down to thinking like a teenager.

“When I was 13 years old, I came across an oddly satisfying video on Instagram … about slime, and immediately I got hooked into this world of weird yet satisfying goo,” Kang says on this episode of NRF’s Retail Gets Real podcast.

“I got all the ingredients for slime — like glue and laundry detergent, pretty much — and decided to make one myself at my house. And immediately, I was like, ‘This is the perfect business opportunity. I can sell this product. I can make it at home.’”

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Jungmin headshot

Kang started her homemade slime business on Etsy in 2017 with a $200 investment from her parents, naming the new business after her pet bunny Snoop. “Even my logo has two little eyes and bunny ears,” she says. “I wanted this whole brand to be super cute, pink, very catchy.”

Today, Snoopslimes LLC is a multimillion-dollar business with 40 employees based in Austin, Texas, and this January at the NRF Foundation Honors event, she’ll be recognized as one of six honorees on the NRF Foundation’s List of People Shaping Retail’s Future. Kang uses a drop business model, releasing four new slimes each week to create demand and marketing the products through social media, where Kang and Snoopslimes have over 6 million followers.

“What I did was showcase the products by the videos that we post. Since slime is a very visual product — and also sound wise, too — by posting, I was able to connect with my customers directly,” Kang says. “I’m able to create more of a fanbase and more loyal customers, rather than people who would come to Snoopslimes just to purchase the product.”

Snoopslimes has now sold over 1 million slimes, with customers ranging from young children to adults who use slime for stress relief, as well as professional therapists that incorporate slime for sensory treatment. Kang also uses the brand to shine a light on her Korean culture by creating products like a slime based on Dalgona candy — a traditional Korean snack made popular by Netflix’s “Squid Game.”

“It’s a very, very big part of my culture. I want to showcase that. I created all these cooking videos of how to make Dalgona slime with these slime ingredients, and it really sparked a lot of comments to start conversations like, ‘Oh, this is really inspired by Korean culture. I love that you’re doing this,’” she says.

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Kang, who is in her first year of college, hasn’t ruled out starting other business ventures. “I think I’m really grateful to now be in this place — even though I’m very young — that I can continue branching out further with Snoopslimes and learn how to organize business this way,” she says.

“This is just pretty much the beginning of my journey. I have so many more business ventures and ideas that I want to grow Snoopslimes into, and potentially even branch out to creating other brands.”

Listen to the full episode to hear more about the businesses Kang dabbled in before starting her slime company, how she is balancing college and running a growing business, and what excites her about the future of retail.

Episode transcript, edited for clarity.

Bill Thorne: Welcome to Retail Gets Real, where we hear from retail’s most fascinating leaders about the industry that impacts everyone, everywhere, every day. I’m Bill Thorne of the National Retail Federation, and on today’s episode, we’re talking to Jungmin Kang, teen entrepreneur, founder and CEO of Snoopslimes.

She’s also one of the dynamic leaders on The List of People Shaping Retail’s Future 2024. We’re going to talk to Jungmin about starting her popular slime toy business at the ripe old age of 13, the role social media has played in her company’s growth, and the future of retail. For today’s recording, I’m going to be handing the mic over to my colleague and friend, Jen Overstreet.

Jen, please take it away.

Jen Overstreet: Thanks, Bill. Jungmin Kang, welcome to Retail Gets Real.

Jungmin Kang: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Overstreet: So let’s just get started at the very beginning. Can you tell us a little bit about Snoopslimes, how you started it, how you came up with the idea?

Kang: Of course. Snoopslimes is an oddly satisfying slime company where we sell multiple ranges of slime textures from clear slimes to butter slimes, cloud slimes, and so much more. This story pretty much starts way back when I was 6 years old, and I used to always ask my dad, who used to work in a corporate setting, ‘Hey, what is a company or a business I can start that I don’t have to sit in the office from 9 to 5 working from Monday to Saturday?’ Sometimes he would have 12-hour workdays.

And he immediately told me to be an entrepreneur, start my own business. And ever since then, I would figure out ways to create my own things and sell it to my friends. So, in middle school, I would sell notebooks that I made to my friends. In elementary school, I would try to stream video games that I used to play and try to make donations off of it. Even try making stop-motion videos posted onto YouTube and try to create revenue off of that.

But when I was 13 years old, I came across an oddly satisfying video on Instagram, and it was about slime. And immediately I got hooked into this world of weird yet satisfying goo. And I got all the ingredients for slime — like glue and laundry detergent, pretty much — and decided to make one myself at my house. And immediately, I was like, ‘This is the perfect business opportunity. I can sell this product. I can make it at home.’ And I went to my parents that night, asked them if they could help me invest $200 into starting my own slime company.

And in the beginning, my sister and my mom were telling me, ‘This is not a good idea. We can use this $200 to go buy a fancy dinner.’ But my dad was the one who told everybody, ‘Let Jungmin have this opportunity. If she fails, it will be a lesson that she learned.’

So, he helped me invest $200, and that’s how Snoopslimes was born. I started my own Etsy shop, and also opened up my Instagram to post my own satisfying videos. And I would make, you know, a tripod out of toilet paper rolls and start shooting videos. Posted consistently, and within about a month or so, I got my first sale, and that’s how Snoopslimes was born.

Overstreet: What about the name? You have to tell us. Why Snoopslimes?

Kang: So, Snoopslimes — it originated from a bunny that I actually had, and I wanted this whole brand to be super cute, pink, very catchy. The name of the bunny that I had was Snoop. So I decided to make this whole brand about bunnies. Even my logo has little two eyes and bunny ears.

Overstreet: You say this word ‘oddly satisfying.’ You’ve said it a few times in your description. I really like that. Tell me more about what is oddly satisfying.

Kang: So, oddly satisfying, you can really describe it in many ways, but with slime, it’s something that is tangible. You can play with it, and it just makes you feel like you can relieve stress by different types of senses, like noises, crunches, and all that. So, I think it’s just a way to relieve stress and anxiety, and just mesmerize with what you can do with slime.

Overstreet: We talked a little bit about getting on social media. Tell us more about how social media helped you grow your business.

Kang: Social media was a huge part and is still a very huge part in growing Snoopslimes. In the beginning, we started marketing in not a very traditional way, where a lot of businesses would put up Facebook ads or paid ads to get customers to their page. What I did was showcase the products by the videos that we post, and since slime is a very visual product, and also sound wise, too, by posting, I was able to connect with my customers directly, and we didn’t have to have any people in between to, like, try marketing. 

And also, I was able to really connect more personally with my customers, especially on TikTok and YouTube, where I post more about the behind-the-scenes of what’s going on in Snoopslimes. I’m able to create more of a fan base and more loyal customers rather than just people who would come to Snoopslimes just to purchase the product. And this way, we’re able to build more of that personable relationship, and they don’t come back just for the products, but for the content and all the new products that we have going.

Overstreet: Can you tell me a little bit more about who your customer is? Is it people buying slime for their kids? Is it people who just like that oddly satisfying sensation? Tell me more.

Kang: A lot of our customers is majority young kids and teenagers, usually around the age eight to 13, and they would ask their parents to purchase it for them. But surprisingly, we found that adults now, they realize the benefits of slime and how it can relieve stress while they’re at work. They can play with it maybe when they’re just watching TV or maybe just in meetings just to fiddle with. So, we also have a different target audience where they’re adults, but they’re still purchasing it for themselves.

Overstreet: You started this business when you were 13, but now you’re in college. You’re a college student. So, what has that been like? Tell us about what it’s like to be a college student doing all the normal stuff that college students do in addition to growing this business.

Kang: For sure. This is my first semester of college after taking a gap year, and it has been a huge adjustment for me, trying to make sure I have the time management skills. Thankfully, I had this practice during my high school career, running Snoopslimes to balance both out, But I realized that time management is important, but also a lot of sacrifice comes with it. Of course, I want to have that whole college experience of making friends, going to all these social events, but I know that if I really want to grow Snoopslimes, which is my passion, to make these sacrifices, maybe you can’t go to this function, or you can’t go to this, but to make time for what you really want to do.

I always talk about this with my dad because I am wanting to focus on Snoopslimes, but also there are external things that kind of influence me that, like, ‘Oh, I can’t miss out on these things.’

But he always tells me, ‘Would you rather be mediocre at two things or have the chance to be exceptional in one field?’ And for me, I want to be exceptional in Snoopslimes. I want to grow to its fullest potential where it is now. So, I have to make some sacrifices, especially with college, since it’s really easy to get out of your focus zone. But by really having the time and making the time out of my day to focus on Snoopslimes, I was able to really balance both things out.

Overstreet: As you’re meeting people on campus, are some of them customers? Are some of them like, ‘Oh my gosh, I know Snoopslimes.’ Have you run into customers as you meet new folks on campus?

Kang: Yeah, it’s really funny because during my freshman orientation during summer, people would come up to me and ask, ‘Hey, are you Snoopslimes?’ And it would strike up a conversation amongst all the groups of people, and now in classes, people know about it, and they ask me questions. I really like it because I love talking about it.

Overstreet: With your social media content, is it you? Are people recognizing you from your social content, or did they just know the brand name?

Kang: Yeah, so they actually recognize me with my face because I’m all over TikTok and YouTube. So that is really really cool. That is not just brand, but it’s a personal recognition of like who’s behind the brand.

Overstreet: Yeah, absolutely. So that brings me to my next question, which is about, you know, your identity as a young entrepreneur with a Korean background. You made it part of your brand’s mission to shine a light on your Korean culture through this brand. How do you do that, and how do your customers respond to that?

Kang: Yes, I love bringing my Korean culture into my brand. Ever since I was young, I’ve always consumed a lot of Korean media, and with slime products, since I can pretty much create anything out of slime, I really wanted to implement that.

And this started by creating a lot of slime products, for example, Dalgona slime that I created a while back. That is a traditional snack that is eaten by kids in Korea, and it started from there. I realized that people found out about Dalgona because of ‘Squid Game,’ and they didn’t know it was really related to Korean culture, and it’s something made up in the movie. But as a person who tried Dalgona, it’s a very, very big part of my culture. I want to showcase that. So, I created all these cooking videos of how to make Dalgona slime with these slime ingredients, and it really sparked a lot of comments to start conversations of like, ‘Oh, this is really inspired by Korean culture. I love that you’re doing this.’

And I also continue like showcasing my culture by making products influenced by K-pop, and I’m glad that I’m able to bring this into my brand because I feel like in the beginning, I was afraid to bring that into Snoopslimes since I didn’t know if there will be a good reaction about it. But by doing that, I was able to bring in new customers, but also be able to spark those conversations in the comments.

Overstreet: It’s really great that you had such a good reaction as you gave more of yourself, more of your personality, and more of your personal identity into the brand. That’s really cool. So, the future, what’s next for Snoopslimes? You’ve grown. Let’s see. You’ve been in business how many years now?

Kang: Almost seven.

Overstreet: Almost seven years. OK. So, you’re not a baby business anymore, but it still could be the beginning of your company. What’s next?

Kang: Now with Snoopslimes, we want to collaborate with more brands that want to share the same message to the world, and also, I want to make sure I can diversify my product line. We have this really cute but funny mascot Snoop, who can be a bigger part of the brand, and we want to release merch and just more projects that the bunny can really come to life.

Another thing is I want to try to bring more of that personal brand into Snoopslimes and really showcase my story and make sure I’m able to influence other teen entrepreneurs that they can start their own businesses. And even if it’s not a traditional route, that that’s what I’ve done, and you can do it too. And I was able to do this by being part of DECA my high school career and being a sponsor there. But now I really want to branch out, and then be more of an influence to other teenagers, like I wasn’t able to. 

Overstreet: What was the group that you were part of?

Kang: I was a part of DECA. It’s a national business competition club.

Overstreet: As your business has matured, you’re probably not doing every single thing yourself now. Are you learning more about yourself as an entrepreneur of the things that you really want to lean into versus the things that you’re happy to have someone else handle for you? What have you learned about entrepreneurship?

Kang: I definitely learned, as I had to delegate my work, I’m more on doing less of the tangible things, and I’m more on computer, having meetings, making sure everything’s working correctly.

But I learned that I have more things that I’m interested in, rather than just working on Snoopslimes. I think I’m really grateful to now be in this place — even though I’m very young — that I can continue branching out further with Snoopslimes and learn how to organize business this way. But also, by learning these experiences and all the lessons that I’ve learned working on Snoopslimes, to potentially start a new business or branch out to new things that I found my passion with through Snoopslimes.

Overstreet: What has been the most rewarding part of this journey for you?

Kang: The most rewarding part is able to share the products that I was able to create to customers. And also not just products, but showcase my life through social media and the behind-the-scenes that go around in the work. And being able to influence — even if it’s just a couple of people to start their own businesses — especially teenagers and seeing how much impact like sharing my story had on them.

Sometimes I see comments saying, like, ‘Oh, Snoopslimes, and you, Jungmin, really influenced me to start my own business, and it helped me kickstart.’ And just seeing other teenagers on a different side of the world even, like, having their own schedule and trying to balance school and business also, is inspiring me that, like, they can also start their own. I think it’s being able to have that connection with people who even watch my videos and also the products.

Overstreet: We always ask our guests this, and so I’m going to ask you as well. This is a nice little segue into one of our favorite questions, which is what’s the best piece of career advice that you could offer to someone who’s just starting out in retail?

Kang:  I will say, for me, I think the best piece of advice that I’ve received is from my dad, and I want to share that with people. So, I’ll tell them that if they’re starting out, don’t get bogged down with every little detail that you want to perfect before starting a business. Even right now, I’ve been doing Snoopslimes for the past seven years, but there’s still things that I’m still working on and just progressively making it better and better. So, if you try to make sure every single detail is perfected before starting, you’ll just never start. So just begin your business and learn from experience.

And no matter if you fail or something doesn’t work out, there are always valuable lessons you can learn along the way. You have time, if you want to start, so it’s great that you have something you’re very interested in very early on in your age, so start it and see where your journey pretty much takes you.

Overstreet: I think you must be a very quick learner because in a very short time you’ve grown your business so successfully. And this year you were named to the NRF Foundation’s List of People Shaping Retail’s Future. As a young entrepreneur, what does what does something like that mean to you?

Kang: I feel very honored to be a part of The List with other amazing people. And as a young founder, when I first started Snoopslimes, I started it with a very nontraditional route of showcasing my products and marketing it through social media, and bootstrapped with no investment at a very young age. And there were moments where I thought I lacked the skills or experiences in order to become an entrepreneur. But being able to be a part of this List shows me that, no matter what route you take, there’s never a correct path and it’s just what is possible to succeed in your own path and strategy.

I’m very, very honored, and this is just pretty much the beginning of my journey because I have so many more business ventures and ideas that I want to grow Snoopslimes into, and potentially even branch out to creating other brands. So yeah, I’m very, very happy and honored about this recognition.

Overstreet: I think the industry is in a pretty good place if we have the next generation of leaders. But it makes me wonder, when you think more broadly about what you’re doing, more broadly about the retail industry, what excites you about the future, not just for your own business, but for the way that you can interact with customers in the future, for the way that the industry can change in the future?

Kang: In the future of retail, I think there will be a lot more use of AI and Web3, where people will be purchasing more non-tangible products and products being more — just not tangible, but also in a virtual reality setting. You can already see this happening with a lot of brands, and I’m really excited to see what Snoopslimes can also utilize AI and things like that to grow our company, maybe with the bunny, maybe something else.

But with these, you can able to customize more and have more personalization with businesses, help predict what the customers want better. So, I’m really, really excited about that. And I also think there’ll be more of influence-led purchase. You can already see this happening with TikTok Shop, and a lot of Gen Z-ers purchasing through influencers … talking about the products, and they just purchase an item like that. I’ve done that too, but I think there will be more of that coming. So definitely branching out to seeing how to market with social media.

Overstreet: That’s the challenge of retail, right? To have one eye on the present and one eye on the future. Jungmin Kang, it’s been a pleasure talking with you today on Retail Gets Real. Thank you so much for joining us.

Kang: Of course. Thank you so much for having me.

Overstreet: Back to you, Bill

Thorne: Thanks Jen, and thank you all for listening to another episode of Retail Gets Real. You can find more information about this episode at retailgetsreal.com. I’m Bill Thorne. This is Retail Gets Real. Thanks again for listening. Until next time.

 

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