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San Francisco's Favorite Craft Fair

Soft plush toys, from Sweet Meats to Deep Creeps

My name is Lauren Venell, and I’m a freelance product designer with a focus on toys. I help other folks launch successful product lines in addition to running a couple of my own. Sweet Meats are super soft plush toys and pillows resembling various cuts of meat. Deep Creeps are bioluminescent (glow-in-the-dark) creatures from the deepest depths of the ocean. I love to create things the world has never seen before, and take pride in running a socially and environmentally responsible business.

I am also committed to helping fellow creative professionals make a sustainable living doing what they love.  I do this in my role as the programming director for the Conference of Creative Entrepreneurs, as a small business teacher at WorkshopSF, and as contributing writer to the Biz Ladies series on design*sponge.

What inspired you to go into the craft business, do you still have a day job? I’ve been in the craft business for as long as I can remember, starting with selling impossibly small clay bunnies to passersby in front of my house. I took a short detour to go to college and teach middle school for six years before the success of my side business and the demise of my teaching job encouraged me to pursue my passion full-time. Lately I’ve taken on some part-time marketing work while I transition my business from product- to service side, but the goal is to eventually go back to working for myself full-time.

Like Edison said, “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration,” so I tend to be very deliberate about the creative process. There is a lot of research and structured brainstorming that goes into client projects, and most of my personal projects are based on ideas, notes and images I’ve catalogued along the way.  At this point I have collected far too many project ideas to make them all in my lifetime, but it gives me the opportunity to choose only the ones that are the most exciting.

What’s the best thing about what you do? And the worst? The best and worst thing about what I do is being 100% responsible for my own success (or failure).  Sometimes it can be very stressful to worry about whether or not I’m doing a job well, but it also means that no one is holding me back from reaching my full potential. The sky is the limit in terms of what I can accomplish.

San Francisco Bazaar Maker Faire will be the last time ever that Sweet Meats are available in person, and the first chance ever to see Leonardo the octopus, the first Deep Creep. I’m very excited to start this new chapter. It’s been a long time coming.

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