The Sloomoo Institute started in 2019, founded by two New York City women full of midlife heartache. Struggling with loss, mental health issues and raising special-needs children, they stumbled into slime. Now Sloomoo is spreading bright blobs of fragrant joy through experiential retail. Kids of all ages make slime, walk on it, and dump vats of it on (willing!) participants. Marie Kelly, head of marketing and strategic partnerships, tells Retail Insider about Sloomoo's growth plans.
Retail Insider: How do you describe Sloomoo to people who haven't heard of it?
Marie Kelly: We're a sensory play experience. And because our founders were going through difficult things when they started, we're rooted in purpose, tied to mental health and neurodiversity.
It's also about joy. When one of our founders first encountered slime, she says it was the first time she'd smiled in a year and a half. Sloomoo didn't come from a business plan. It came from joy.
Retail Insider: And you're now in three places?
Kelly: Yes. Atlanta, New York and Chicago. We still do occasional pop-ups, and plan to be in as many as ten permanent locations by the end of next year.
Retail Insider: You're a tactile brand. How do you communicate that through digital marketing?
Kelly: Today's consumers know ASMR, or autonomous sensory meridian response. It's pervasive on social media. So we can do a lot with visually satisfying content like videos of slime pours and swirls and the audio of pops and bubbles. We can show the joy and reactions guests are having. And we can convey that through our ecommerce, too. It helps that there's so much awareness about the benefits of sensory play.
We have a resident psychiatrist who helps us make sure we increase endorphins. Sloomoo is very grounding. You're not on your device. You are talking and meeting strangers. And we're about to start doing kitchen tours, like in a brewery or distillery.
Retail Insider: How are you using TikTok?
Kelly: We've got a lot of content on all social channels, but TikTok is our largest audience, with about 1.7 million followers. We're working with some creators, turning that content into ads. And we're leveraging it as a search platform. It serves as a marketing funnel for our ticketed guests. People come in from places like Australia and say, "I follow you on TikTok." So it's a direct converter and more fun. It's less heavily produced than what we do on Instagram.
Retail Insider: What's your most effective marketing channel?
Kelly: I'll give you a grey answer. Earned media is critical, and I'm a big believer in brand awareness. But it's hard to track and getting harder. We've been in People, Forbes and Fortune and on the "Today Show." Someone could learn about us that way, then click on something that will get attributed to paid search. We are getting smarter in our systems and putting more tools in place to help us measure those things more efficiently. Press and influencers are both huge drivers for us.
Retail Insider: "The Today Show" focused on your commitment to a neurodiverse workforce. What does that mean?
Kelly: It started with a very early team member. And we're aligning with a couple of national partners to make sure we have the training to provide the right accommodations and support for these team members.
Retail Insider: Are your ecommerce customers different than your retail customers?
Kelly: From an e-comm perspective, the slime community is big. And slime enthusiasts are very interconnected. They make their own slimes and buy artisanal ones. They're particular about texture. We do lots of limited-edition drops, and they are very interested.
Retail Insider: What role do partnerships play?
Kelly: We have some marquee partnerships, including Elmer's Glue and Kinetic Sand. Those stretch across all channels. But we also do many hyperlocal ones. We work with Google, art museums, the city of Chicago.
Retail Insider: Many people associate sensory play with little kids, but your appeal is much wider. Who else likes it?
Kelly: From a day-to-day standpoint, we see people coming just to have an immersive, fun experience. Celebrities show up and often use our party rooms. Groups come, like a bunch of grad school students celebrating graduation. From a therapeutic point of view, the slime experience works for athletes and dementia patients. We work closely with Goldie Hawn's MindUP Foundation, which focuses on teen mental health. That group creates slime kits that they bring into schools.
Retail Insider: So that is a lot of sensory activity. Does it sometimes overwhelm sensitive guests?
Kelly: We can hand out nose plugs and earphones for people who want less stimulation. And the room with Kinetic Sand has more subdued audio.