It had to be asked: “Why meat?”
“I come from a long line of butchers on both sides of my family, so I grew up with a deep appreciation for meat,” says Lauren Venell, a designer and crafter from San Francisco, California. Despite such a deep-seated love for carnivorous fare and a maiden name that translates to “butcher” from German, bringing joy and surprise to the world through plush meat was not Venell's original intention; it happened by accident.
In 2004, Venell constructed a small ham out of fleece as a personal art project, after seeing an exhibition of soft sculpture by artist Jennifer Lew. Everyone who saw the ham wanted to commission one, and a business was born. For the first two years, Fleischer ran Sweet Meats as small side business while teaching middle school Computers and Home Economics. She constructed each plush toy by hand in her tiny home studio and sold them on the web and at the occasional craft fair. Despite only telling friends and family about her business, people began to find her web site--everyone from Canal+ Television in France, to the New York Times. In 2007, eventually unable to keep up with orders alongside full-time employment, Lauren resigned from teaching to pursue Sweet Meats full-time.