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Spotlight On: Karen Robinovitz of Sloomoo Institute

Mental illness is complicated, but not talking about it doesn’t make it less so. Part of our mission is to help people feel better, both physically and mentally, and while CBD can help, there are many tools you can lean on for support. Mental Health Memos is a series that delves into the importance of destigmatizing mental illness and shines a light on those who are using their voice to bring these conversations to front and center. 

In many ways, slime saved Karen Robinovitz’s life. “I was struggling with painstaking loss and grief, so much so that I could barely leave my apartment,” she recalls of a tumultuous time a few years back. When a good friend came to visit with her 10-year-old daughter Mattie, she brought slime with her as a distraction. “The minute I touched it, I was hooked. Four hours later, I was still sliming – and it dawned on me, that for the first time, I wasn't focused on my depression.”

Robinovitz, a media veteran who launched Digital Brand Architects (a talent management agency for digital influencers now under the UTA umbrella), teamed up with close friend Sara Schiller to launch Sloomoo Institute in 2019. Billed as “a sensory playground centered around slime,” Sloomoo Institute opened in New York’s SoHo neighborhood, and since COVID-19, has transitioned much of their business online in the form of online slime-making classes, DIY kits, and Zoom slime sessions meant to bring out the inner kid in all of us. Robinovitz talks taking it day-by-day, finding room for gratitude, and how tapping into your childlike curiosity is one of the best ways to cope.

How did using slime as a coping mechanism turn into what Sloomoo is today?

During my time of grief and loss, I became a slime addict. I started collecting it and using it as a way to cope with all of my sadness. I brought slime to my friend, Sara, who was also going through a hard time. When she found the same relief I did, we thought this was the perfect opportunity to work together on something. We wanted to bring what we fell in love with into the world.

How have you pivoted your business model and/or marketing strategy since COVID-19 began?   

We're now fully focused on e-commerce, and we have found ways to bring our slime experience to your home with a lot of products and DIY kits, which are all themed and equipped with ingredients to assemble the perfect butter slime. We launched a monthly slime subscription box, and we now do virtual slime-making classes two to three times per week. Parents have been emailing us to say we're the best babysitters! We also started private virtual classes; we're doing interactive slime birthday parties and even slime-making sessions for companies who are looking for ways to keep up company morale. We also have a new bespoke slime meant for companies to order for their staff, since slime is the perfect thing to keep your hands occupied on Zoom calls. But we do hope the world can return and Sloomoo’s in-person elements will resume again. 

What’s the one thing about starting a business that no one told you?

I don't think anyone really tells you how hard it will be! You never really know what you're in for until it happens.  

How has your own mental health journey evolved? 

I found a purpose again. I was broken for so long that I truly never thought I would be able to feel passionate about anything again. Creating an experience that brings joy to others has really helped heal me in many ways. I’m a work in progress and I still feel grief, sadness, and depression from the tragedies I went through, but I now believe I can have light in my life again. 

I’m a work in progress and I still feel grief, sadness, and depression from the tragedies I went through, but I now believe I can have light in my life again.
If you could give your younger self a piece of advice, what would it be?

To stop being so hard on yourself!  

What’s been the biggest change you’ve made during quarantine that’s had the greatest impact on your day-to-day happiness?

To be honest, I'm just taking it day-by-day, but always finding time to give back. We donated slimes to Women in Need, a shelter for abused women. We're working on donating slimes to health care workers so they can bring slime home to their kids – or play with it themselves. We also donate to three mental health non-profits – NAMILove is Louder, and Sad Girls Club – since giving back is a key part of our mission. 

What’s the best way to support a friend or family member who might be struggling during this time?

Listen. Empathize. Connect. It's important to check in with family, friends, and loved ones and not just text or call but see them. I’m FaceTiming a lot!  

How can you combat feeling isolated during a period of mandated isolation?

Ask for help. Reach out to those you trust and can rely on. Seeking support is a sign of strength, not weakness. 

Any daily rituals to share that have helped shift your overall outlook?

I’m spending a lot of time working on my gratitude practice, which has been really helpful for me. I’ve also been loving my new favorite snack: toasted gluten-free bread with a small smear or honey, almond butter, and cinnamon. It's become a bright spot in my day.

Charlotte SteinwayCharlotte Steinway LA-based content and creative director.

Likes: collaborative playlists, aquatic adventures, and orange wine.
Dislikes: Road rage and pâté.