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TOTAL Art Licensing
colors? For Laura, hope and optimism have al- el for integrity and responsibility. Businesses ible nephews to their aunt, who has Down syn-
ways been within reach. need the community to survive and therefore drome. I get compliments daily from coaches,
should give back.” teachers, and neighbors speaking highly about
Inspired by Youth Laura stays involved with her sons’ schools, is the level of their compassion, kindness and gen-
Laura spent her childhood reading, drawing, a V-Day Apex 2009 Producer of “The Vagina erosity.”
coloring and daydreaming in Upper St. Clair, Monologues” (part of global movement to stop Laura says her sons’ treatment of others offers
Penn., a suburb of Pittsburgh. “I believed in im- violence against women and young girls), and all the proof she needs that she is raising them
aginary fairies, gnomes, dragons and magical, far has served as a Fun Festival coordinator and well. “When Dylan was in second grade, he was
away places,” she says. She earned a degree in on town council committees. She chosen to be a peer mediator, and he’s current-
Elementary Education at The Universi- has made numerous donations to ly a U.S. ambassador for youth soccer. Dawson
ty of Kentucky, then followed charitable projects and wears his heart on his sleeve and keeps an open
her dream of becom- fundraisers, is a mem- mind, allowing his friends to be authentic. He
ing an elementary ber of the Apex really keeps true friends around him, even at a
school teacher. D o w n t o w n young age. They create balance in a world full
She still credits Merchant As- of chaos.”
her students as sociation Cham- For the Kellys, soccer, basketball, board games,
the source of her ber of Commerce bike rides, movies, video games and an occa-
finest artistic crea- and has worked sional neighborhood scavenger hunt help build a
tions. with Wake Teen, routine around the chaos. “Somewhere in there
“My biggest inspira- Boys and Girls Clubs we will do dinner as a family, when everyone
tions are the many of Raleigh, the Triangle is there,” Laura says. “And whenever I can get
open, loving and deep Down Syndrome Net- the boys into bed, I’ll take a bubble bath, journal,
imaginations of my stu- work, and Girl Scouts of read a bit while listening to my iPod, and have
dents when I taught el- America. some hot tea.”
ementary school. When Apart from raising her boys and giving back to
they told stories of make-believe, I found myself At the End of the Day her community, Laura just hopes to serve as a
believing the magic of my childhood was recre- It’s 4:00 and time to go home. Laura has put in source of empowerment and love for others to
ated,” she says. “Every time I see my students, a full day of brainstorming, organizing, sketch- be all they can be. She realizes her gifts are ex-
who are now in their 20s, and they share their ing, licensing, emailing, phoning and inspiring. actly that—gifts she must share with others.
life stories, I’m proud to be a part of their child- Now, it’s time to focus on her two favorite guys. “When I go to bed, the last thing I think about
hood.” “Raising my children to be lifelong learners and are all of the miracles around me,” she says.
It’s no wonder Laura’s collections consist of contributors in our wold is my top priority,” she “Sometimes I cry from being overwhelmed
school kids, books, sports props and other says. She speaks of their accomplishments with about how many magical experiences take place
school-inspired illustrations. But her imagina- pride and awe. everyday. Then I say a silent prayer for the gift
tion knows no limits. The “Me and My Peeps” “Last summer I sent Dylan and Dawson to eat of life and pass out exhausted.”
collection, which depicts playful images of family at the Mexican restaurant alone (next door to
members and are available as decals for hard her studio),” she recalls. “I later found out that a Laura Kelly Designs & Licensing
surfaces or iron-ons for fabric, have stirred woman from our community was so impressed (919) 303-2101 •
up interest from companies like PLAID. Other by their manners and behavior that she paid for Elizabeth Shugg is a writer in Apex, N.C.
popular products include bank checks, person- their lunch. Both of my boys are also incred- Contact her at
alized stationery, coasters and Swankie Hankie
Art imitates life, and Laura experienced her first
“big break” when she couldn’t find a suitable
birth announcement for her oldest son. So, she
created one herself, and her childhood dreams
came to life for her very own child through a
black Sharpie marker.
“The design was of a baby and his puppy in the
bathtub,” she said. “When I sent them out and
got such a great response from friends wanting
me to draw their kids and pets, the Paper Peo-
ple collection was birthed, too.”
Sharing her art evolved into more than a suc-
cessful licensing business—it also served as a
conduit for connecting with her community.
“A community is only as strong as its weakest
member,” Laura says. “Businesses are in the eye
of the public and therefore serve as a role mod-
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