Kinkaid senior making change through homemade toys
How can slime benefit underserved students? How can homemade toys contribute to the development of arts programs? Vivian Ye has an answer: TheFightToys, her handmade toy shop.
Vivian, a senior at Kinkaid, is a competitive dancer and the president of the Falcon Sound club, which puts on arts performances for those in need around the city of Houston. She says the arts have helped her branch out from academics and grow.
“I feel like the arts are a way to let go of certain emotions. It’s a way to escape and to express,” she said.
To promote this method of expression, Vivian began making slime to raise money for underprivileged schools in April of 2020 and selling them both to the people she knows in-person and online at Etsy and her website.
Vivian explained that she chose to start with slime because she was fascinated by the evolution of slime. From just glue and a borax solution to differentiating between types of slimes by texture, color, and luster, the industry has seen lots of growth.
“It’s so crazy how slime-making has gone from just a simple thing to fidget with or play with to an art form,” she said.
She eventually expanded to homemade toys including puppets, stress toys, and squishies.
The profits from TheFightToys are used to support Vivian’s fine arts initiative, UnitedArts, where she goes to underprivileged schools to start dance and visual art programs. She has currently established fine art programs at four underprivileged schools; she leads a team of volunteers on visits to these schools to teach students about the arts.
She also donates the funds to organizations that feed underprivileged children and provide them with access to technology.
This semester, she plans to expand to the following schools:
- AA Milne Elementary
- Highland Heights Elementary
- Lakeland Elementary
- Jones Elementary
- Chancellor Elementary
- Northbelt Elementary
- Chain of Love
- Arabian School
To date, Vivian has sold 3000 products, making $21,000 total. She made $18,000 off of slime sales and raised $3,000 for UnitedArts.
She has now transitioned from the manufacturing side of her business to the executive level. Her role as Chief Executive Officer includes refining recipes for slime, filming and editing all of her videos, marketing on social media, and overseeing her employees.
“I love trying to create things that are going to be attractive to customers,” she said. “At the beginning, I had a tough time breaking into the market, but when I thought creatively and made a DIY milkshake slime, it was a really big hit. As for my arts initiative, the part I enjoy about UnitedArts is connecting with the kids; they're always so excited to see you, super enthusiastic, super engaged. It's really fun to get to know them and teach them about something I love.”
Most recently, TheFightToys partnered with Bao Shi Yi (a dumpling restaurant), the Oriental Arts Education Center, Yin Tang (a hot pot restaurant), and Cafetopia (a local cafe).
“I wanted to raise more money and make more of an impact, so I contacted some CEOs and talked about a potential partnership,” she said. “At Bao Shi Yi, a chain restaurant, the CEO wanted to start a donation program, and so it was perfect!”
She puts an original spin on product designs for her partners.
“If I’m designing slime for a partner, I market it like it’s company merchandise; if a company sold boba tea, I would make a slime that looks exactly like their boba tea and put their labels on it.”
Vivian says her teachers at Kinkaid have been supportive and helped her develop the skills, motivation, and knowledge needed to run her business.
In the future, she plans to expand UnitedArts through zoom lessons. She is starting the program in October in a school in Dubai and Brazil.
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