Marisa Gannon can tell you stories about starting from scratch, and making it big.
After all, she has done it twice, and in two completely different veins.
She started playing volleyball as a seventh-grader and, over time, developed into one of the top setters in Section II. Meanwhile, her business enterprise based around creating and selling slime — a popular concoction — is thriving, and the Schenectady High School senior’s work has garnered a large internet following.
Sometimes, the two overlapped.
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“When we’d go to other schools or tournaments, kids wanted their picture taken with her,” Schenectady varsity girls’ volleyball coach Ben Rosenthal said. “It’s really nuts. She’s a slime celebrity.”
Gannon never saw that coming. For a long time she had played with the stuff just as a hobby, but as an eighth-grader she decided to ramp up the volume of slime she made, and started selling it and promoting the business she named “Parakeet Slimes” through social media.
Her business (Parakeetslimesshop.com, @parakeetslimes) is named after one of her pet birds who liked to sit on her head when she made slime.
“I remember on the first day of school when I was in eighth grade, I put something out on Instagram,” she said. “It was mostly for my friends. They were saying how cool it was and they were saying, ‘I want to have this’ and ‘make me one.’”
YouTube videos and TikTok videos centering on all things slime have played a role in an increased demand for the stuff she makes with glue, borax, water and all sorts of additional ingredients to create different textures, smells and sounds when squeezed. Over the past few years, she has created ‘hundreds of different slimes’ to distribute to her fans.
“It’s definitely a lot bigger than a lot of people imagine,” Gannon said.
Gannon’s most popular YouTube videos have been seen by millions. The young entrepreneur has well over 600,000 followers on both Instagram and TikTok.
“I did not expect that at all. When I started, no one was super famous doing it,” the 17-year-old said. “I started posting videos for my friends. Now people all over the world look at them.”
“She is a rock star,” Schenectady athletic director Steve Boynton said of Gannon. “There’s no question about it.”
Gannon said her business keeps her quite busy, but she enjoys doing it, and takes satisfaction that her slime, while fun to play with, can also be used to relieve stress and for therapeutic purposes.
“Pretty much every day I am doing something,” said Gannon, who gets a big assist from her mom and dad, Maria and Scott Gannon. “Videos, packaging, shipping out orders. Planning out what I’m going to make this week. There’s a lot to do, but it’s something I want to continue.”
Marisa Gannon can also be seen in action on Hudl and on MaxPrep videos performing for the Schenectady volleyball team that she helped go from an also-ran to a competitive group with her setting and defense. This past season, Schenectady even threw a scare into Suburban Council power Shenendehowa when it took the first set in a Section II tournament match.
“That makes me feel really proud, considering where we started,” Gannon said of the Patriots’ climb to prominence.
Gannon played on the Schenectady varsity for four years and started in her last three, and finished with 944 assists and 445 defensive digs. She had 349 assists as a junior, and 322 as a senior in six fewer games.
“The last two years, especially, she really came out of her shell as a player and did great things for the team,” Rosenthal said.
The Schenectady coach is certain Gannon could help a college team somewhere with her athletic gifts, but she has yet to decide on her future plans outside of continuing with her slime business.
“I am considering my options,” Gannon said. “I’m figuring it out.”
Gannon is currently competing for the Jaguars Volleyball Club where she is getting an opportunity to play as an outside hitter.
“She is a heck of an athlete overall,” Rosenthal said. “The scary thing is, if I had another setter, she would have been one of my top hitters.”
As with her business, Gannon didn’t envision her rapid athletic growth, either, when she took that route so many years ago and joined Schenectady’s modified team.
“My mom got me to go to the tryouts,” Gannon said. “Honestly, I didn’t think I would stay with it.”
Gannon has shown that great things can happen to those who do.