Charlotte Le’s (W’22) passion project might be one you’re familiar with—we’ve probably scrolled through Instagram videos of these satisfying phenomena yet never thought too much about the business behind them. Her work has made Charlotte, in her native country of Vietnam, a social media sensation and a tycoon in the field of slime.
For the eight months leading up to Penn, slime was Charlotte’s entire life. Originally something that her sister was fond of, slime captivated Charlotte’s attention. She explains with excitement, “It has the stress–relieving concept of a fidget spinner, taken to the next level. I thought, let’s make a business out of it!” With her strong business mentality, Charlotte worked closely with her sister, the mastermind behind the slime formulas, and founded a nationwide, Vietnam–based slime company, Yunikon Slime.
She learned her persevering business mindset from her father, who runs a wood supplying company. She incorporates her father’s leadership qualities and treatment of employees into her own work. Her slime company now has around 20 adult, full–time employees and has allowed her to make a profit of around $350,000 to $400,000, she says.
With almost 100,000 followers on Instagram, 500,000 subscribers on YouTube, and over 68 million Youtube views, Charlotte credits much of her business’ success to social media. “The slime account got hacked on Instagram twice!” she exclaims. “We ended up starting over the Instagram account, but our main marketing platform was Youtube, so it wasn’t much of a drop.” She has expanded the company’s name through collaborations with other Vietnam–based YouTubers. Charlotte rarely gets paid for such partnerships—she sees them as opportunities for organic growth.
While slime is a major trend in the U.S., there is barely a market for it in Vietnam, yet Charlotte wasn’t the first to start a slime company there. She explains, “There was a pre–existing competitor that took up 90 percent of the market share. They were like a monopoly.” To combat this, she emphasized quality and creativity. “Our products have imported materials from Japan, the U.S., Korea, and Thailand,” Charlotte describes, “and we get really creative. We focus a lot on branding and make sure everything adheres to our unicorn theme. We release almost 20 new products every week.”
When her company soared to prominence, Charlotte had to deal with imitation from competitors. “A lot of times, I’ll release new products with new types and themes, and after two weeks, my competitors will do the same.” To rise above the competition, “It’s definitely about staying with the market trend and finding new supplies — something that your competitors can’t copy instantly. Recently, there’s been a trend in Vietnam with K–pop. I’ve been looking into making customized little charms that have K–pop figures.”
Currently, Yunikon Slime is situated only in Vietnam. Even with its success, Charlotte has no intentions of expanding the business to the U.S. The slime business started as a stress–relieving adventure, and she hopes to continue viewing it as something fun.
Discussing the business’s humble beginnings, Charlotte noted that originally, her “business was all online, on yunikonslime.com.” It wasn’t long until she realized how ineffective online shopping was in Vietnam, since most adults are wary of e–commerce. That’s when she made a critical decision: opening up nine physical stores.
Her company’s reach “just exploded” after that. In fact, she held her own twist on VidCon, a slime convention she dubbed YuniKon, and over 6,000 people showed up. Still, she acknowledges that slime’s popularity isn’t long–lasting. “As with any toy, there is a certain period where there’s more interest.” She notes that with her strong customer base, her company is not just a slime company anymore; it’s a toy company. “I can make, import, sell any type of product, and kids will still buy it. We have that credential.”
Although Charlotte has a grand vision for the company’s future, she has relinquished many responsibilities and is committed to her academics at Penn. Involved in five different Wharton clubs, she is thinking of concentrating in finance and minoring in Chinese.