At just 10 years old and a budding entrepreneur, Ryan Schutte already has adopted slimy business practices.
And in this case, that’s a good thing.
Ryan, a fifth-grader at Hillcrest School in Chippewa Falls, makes and sells slime — the stretchy, gooey, brightly colored substance that is a craze among children across the country.
Like many kids, Ryan became obsessed with making slime last winter. By late spring he approached his parents, Rob and Jenny Schutte, about the idea of selling slime as a fundraiser for the Children’s Dyslexia Center of Upper Wisconsin — an Eau Claire-based facility where he and nearly 30 other youths receive services.
“I just really want to give back to the Dyslexia Center. They give so much to me,” Ryan told me last week before one of his twice-weekly sessions that help him overcome his language-based learning disability.
Extremely impressive young man alert! Remember, these selfless words came from someone who is 10.
When his parents gave him the green light, Ryan approached center director Tammy Tillotson with the idea. She suggested he put together a business plan to show how the charitable enterprise would work.
With the support of family members, Ryan returned with a business plan — complete with a spreadsheet and an order form — for Tillotson, who enthusiastically approved the project and allowed him to set up a small display at the center’s office in the Masonic Temple building.
“He came in and did a very professional presentation,” Tillotson said. “It’s so impressive that this is a young man who came up with this idea all on his own.”
Ryan’s order sheet, available at the center or on family members’ Facebook pages, allows customers to place custom orders. They can select from among six colors (red, pink, orange, purple, blue or green) and five types (fluffy, thick, glossy, rubber band or clear) and choose what color glitter they want and if they want beads in their concoction. Ingredients can include glue (bought in gallon jugs), shaving cream, borax solution, contact lens solution and food coloring.
All slime is $3 per 8-ounce container, with about two-thirds of the price earmarked for the center and the other third paying for slime-making supplies.
Ryan’s initial goal, which he already surpassed in filling 120 orders, was to raise at least $200 to donate to the Dyslexia Center by October, Dyslexia Awareness Month. He since has elevated his fundraising goal to $500.
So what’s the big attraction of all this slime? “It’s just fun to play with,” said Ryan, who stretched, folded, kneaded and twisted the squishy stuff as he spoke.
As Ryan demonstrated his products for this slime novice, the first sample he talked about was a sticky orange variety that looked like Jello. That is one of his favorites because orange is a dyslexia awareness color and he included beads with the letters “d-y-s-l-e-x-i-a.” The way the letters get mixed up in the goo is symbolic of the way words and letters can get mixed up for people with dyslexia, he said.
No wonder Jenny stated, “I’m incredibly proud of Ryan,” in a recent Facebook post that prompted a surge in sales that had Ryan making slime several hours a day last week.
While he acknowledged making all that slime is a lot of work, Ryan is dedicated to the cause. “What I have to remember is I’m making money for the Dyslexia Center,” he said.
The center, which has served more than 100 children — some from as far as two hours away — since it opened in 2011, is a nonprofit organization that is funded solely through donations and charitable events. All of its tutoring sessions are free for clients.
Most importantly, Rob said, the project is raising money for and awareness of the Dyslexia Center, which he claimed helped turn Ryan’s life around.
Rob recalled that Ryan was frustrated in school and withdrawn as a result of his dyslexia before the Chippewa County town of Wheaton family pushed to get the evaluations necessary for him to get diagnosed and receive services at the Dyslexia Center.
“Before Ryan started coming here, he was just a shell of himself,” Rob said during an interview at the center. “We’ll be forever grateful. It’s a godsend what they do here for kids who are struggling and their families.”
Now that’s a cause worth getting slimy for.
Contact: 715-833-9209, firstname.lastname@example.org, @ealscoop on Twitter
- People can contact the Schutte family to place slime orders on the Facebook page Ryan’s Slime Palooza.