We had the good fortune of connecting with Wendy Lazar and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Wendy, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I wish I could say I had a master plan for starting this business of making plush organs. But the dirty truth is that it was just a kooky idea I had while drunk-drawing organs as a heartbroken 20-something. It would sound better if I had it all figured out. I have always loved drawing and science. I Heart Guts turned out to be the perfect marriage of these two passions. I didn’t choose my path as much as stumbled into it and kept going. Even though the business was born from my passion for drawing and science and super-cute artwork, ultimately I Heart Guts is a service — plush organs help our customers get a dose of that “laughter is the best medicine” thing. We are not just producing a product, we are giving people the power to giggle in the face of illness.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
From the very beginning, I got the message that cute organs was a Bad Idea. First I tried selling the illustrations to a T-shirt company. They passed on it. When I first started out making buttons and stickers, I brought my guts to every store within a one- mile radius of Los Angeles’ famed Melrose Avenue, hoping to talk someone into buying my junk. I thought, “Wow, hospital gift shops will love these!” Boy, was I wrong! Those hospital gift shop ladies HATED my stuff. “Why would ANYONE having a kidney transplant want to wear a KIDNEY?” Hospital gift shops peddle get well bears and dewey roses — dark humor doesn’t make any sense to them at all. The small indie boutiques understood that it was funny and took a chance on the guts, even though I am a lousy salesperson. I haven’t figured that out how to give up yet. So for better or worse, I’m still going.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I always like to take out-of-towners to Downtown LA — Grand Central Market, Angel’s Flight, The Broad, The Last Bookstore followed by Little Damage. Even thought I’m LA born-and-bred, I live in the Inland Empire now, so I love luring my L.A. friends out to the delicious and wild San Gabriel Valley. Nothing better than following a wilderness hike with world-class Taiwanese dumplings or Szechuan. Monrovia waterfalls, Icehouse Canyon, San Gabriel Wilderness, are best paired with Luscious Dumplings, Chengdu Taste, and of course Din Tai Fung. When COVID is over, I want to get back to the Huy Fong Foods tour, where sriracha hot sauce is made. I’d also try to fit in Guerilla Taco, Tokyo Fried Chicken, Big Softee, Hawaii Supermarket, Joshua Tree.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Thanks, Mom! When I first went full-time with I Heart Guts, my mother helped watch my baby son while I worked and filled orders. I’m grateful I’ve been able to be my own boss because it’s great to be flexible with my kids and spend time with them. I try to work efficiently so I can wipe ass and crank out quesadillas. Thanks, Mom, for helping me at the very beginning.
Credit: I Heart Guts