When TikTok star Addison Rae and her little brother Lucas shared a review of Ricky Waite’s slime, his business and brand, RL Slimes, was suddenly thrust into the limelight.
Rae, 19, and her brother shared their thoughts on his product-- a 10 out of 10 in their book-- with her more than 47 million followers. The effect of such a review was felt immediately by Waite.
“Within 24 hours, I had like 40,000 followers,” Waite, 16, told Inside Edition Digital, noting he had only about 20 followers on TikTok before Rae set her sights on his slimes. “It's been crazy seeing how much power she has on the app.”
- Watch the video above for a look at Ricky's day making slime
The 20 or so types of slime-- priced at around $11 a jar-- he had in stock sold out immediately, with new customers especially interested in the orange creamsicle scent Addison reviewed. That meant it was back to the lab to make more slime to accommodate the 150 sales orders that immediately came through Ricky's Etsy shop. Before, he typically received around 30 to 80 orders a week, making on average between $2,000 to $2,500 over two weeks, he said.
Ricky, who’s from Santa Rosa, California has been making his own slime for the past three years. He credits his skill of making slime to “trial and error” and watching Karina Garcia’s YouTube videos. It started out as a hobby after being introduced to slime by a friend, Liya Golden, and together they created RL Slimes. Friends in school started requesting slime, which Ricky would deliver in small amounts in plastic baggies. “That got shut down pretty quickly since there was slime on the school carpets and faculty do not like that one bit,” Ricky said.
"When Ricky started doing slime, it was a messy business,” his mom, Kim Waite, recalled. “I was hoping it was just going to be a quick fad that he was going through it and it was going to end quickly.”
But it was just the beginning.
Building a Brand
In 2017, Ricky organized his own slime convention. Just 13 at the time, Ricky was able to negotiate booking the ballroom space at a DoubleTree Hotel all by himself.
“Looking back at it -- it’s really crazy to think that I was able to coordinate, run and execute an entire trade show convention with 1,000 attendees, really a lot of it by myself,” Ricky said.
His parents were there to oversee the contacts and pay the deposit, but if Ricky didn’t sell tickets, he knew he was responsible for paying his parents back.
“My husband and I sat down and had a conversation with Ricky and said, ‘We're committing to a large financial obligation. If this doesn't work out, who do you think should have to pay for the deposit that we have to give to the hotel to reserve these ballrooms?’ And he said, ‘Well, I do,’” Waite said. “It was like, ‘Okay. As long as you know that money would come out of your savings, if this is a complete flop and you don't sell any tickets and VIP people don't come, mom and dad aren't going to pay the bill. You are.’ He's like, ‘Well, of course, mom.’”
That concern would prove to be unfounded. Ricky would go on to make $20,000 in profits from the convention, a huge lump sum for anyone, let alone a teen, and one that cemented his family’s faith in his idea.
“I would say RL Slimes became a real business at the time that he did his convention,” his mom said.
How the Slime Gets Made
The bulk of the business is done in the attic of Ricky’s home. Now that it’s summer, the teen has ample time to spend working on creating different slimes and promoting them on social media.
His tasks for each day fill up an entire whiteboard, a to-do list that takes about 10 hours to complete. He also has several kitchen mixers set up to mix variations of his slime concoctions, comprised mostly of Elmer’s Glue and Borax. Around 11 a.m., when the sunlight hits the attic and provides good lighting, Ricky records videos of his slime. In between making slime, he edits videos for Instagram and TikTok, all of which are slotted into scheduled times to go live.
“I don't pay a penny for marketing. So I don't pay Instagram to promote any of my stuff; I do it all on my own,” Ricky said. “I do all the production for it -- I do all the pictures and videos for my Etsy online store.”
At times, a few friends help him with fulfillment orders, but most of the work is done by Ricky alone, especially amid the coronavirus pandemic. “He does all the ordering; he does all the making of the slime, the production. He orders all the shipping supplies,” his mom said. “I would say he probably does 95% of it, and the 5% that we do is just driving him to the post office to drop stuff off and balancing his accounts on a monthly basis.”
Since Ricky’s a few years shy of 18, his parents handle the finances of the business.
“I don't let him handle the finance part of things just because I get nervous with online banking, and I'm in a business where wire fraud is a big deal, so I'm very cautious,” Waite said. “So he'll come in and have things in the shopping cart and say, ‘Mom, can you get this for me?’”
Growing His Business
Ricky’s motivation is moving the needle to make his company a successful one. “His dad and I could not be more proud of him. He's a very determined young man. From the time he was little, he's been very independent.”
Now, his parents are looking into improving the attic to give Ricky a better space to continue growing RL Slimes. And his company’s recent growth has driven home the importance of finding passion in one’s work.
“Because people can tell if you're not happy with what you're doing,” he explained of being a slime influencer. “I was posting some really bad, poorly made videos for a few weeks because I was so busy. People could tell. I lost some followers because they could tell that I wasn't as interested in the business at that time.”
The production value of his posts helped him earn more than 209,000 followers on Instagram. Ricky’s parents threw him a party, complete with a special slime-themed cake, to celebrate the milestone. He’s also secured more than 62,000 followers on TikTok in the weeks since Rae’s slime review.
For Ricky, it’s never been clearer that the pressure is on.
“I wish people knew that just because it's slime and just because it's an Instagram account, that it's not easy to do. It is pretty difficult,” he said. “I'm working like six- to 12-hour days sometimes. So, it's a lot of work. I lose a lot of sleep over it. Having to post like 10 times a day on a TikTok account when you just want to lay down in bed and watch Netflix, it can be hard sometimes.
“I definitely wish people would maybe kind of view it as more of an actual job rather than just like a side hustle that a teenager's doing.”
- Watch the video above to see how Ricky makes slime
But Ricky is happy to take on the hard work.
“This is something that I'm really passionate about, and this is something that I really want to do. It's not just a side hustle,” he said. “I want to go to college for business, something I want to create a career out of.
“This is something I want to do for the rest of my life.”