Focus on Women – Laura Jakes, Owner, LJ Creates; President of the Board, Sylvania Community Arts Commission

Creative Oxygen
by Linda Szyskowski

Laura Jakes has fond memories of growing up in Sylvania. “My brothers and sisters and I biked everywhere,” she laughed. “All 12 of us at one time or another!” She attended Maplewood School and graduated from Northview High School.
Laura’s mom was very creative and at one time ran a ceramics studio. She encouraged her children’s artistic talents, and Laura’s showed up early. She took private art lessons in high school and shared her mother’s talent for ceramics. Teachers encouraged her to pursue it in college, but her dad, being a practical person, thought she should choose a direction with better employment opportunities.

BGSU was Laura’s college choice. There she met her husband, who coincidentally also grew up in Sylvania. She graduated with a BA in graphic design and a minor in marketing, and her choices paid off. She quickly joined Fahlgren, a large marketing agency in downtown Toledo, and spent 15 years there where she eventually became an art director. Then, after a partner left RP Marketing, Laura accepted a position as creative director. With three young sons, the family was also looking for a larger home and a good school system for the boys. “Sylvania fit our needs, and we both had history here, so we moved back in 1994. It was an easy choice,” she remembered.
Laura spent 12 years at RP building on her skills. Then, in 2009, she decided to strike out on her own, and she started LJ Creates. “I used freelancers to help me at first, then added a writer, and later a traffic manager and an account person. We now have a staff of six, including my son,” said Laura. “I’m proud of how the business has grown and that we have some large clients like Owens-Corning, a hospital associated with UNC, local companies, and non-profits. It’s a good mix for us. We’re small, but think big. And we love working in downtown Sylvania.”
Her involvement with the Sylvania Arts Commission began in 2008 when Laura was encouraged to join the board by Rona Simon of the Children’s Theater. Now she serves as president of this working board of 17 individuals dedicated to promoting the arts in Sylvania. The Commission is responsible for public art; adult theater and film groups; the orchestra; a children’s theater, classes, and camp; junior high and high school stage productions; the Tree City Film Festival; and their biggest money maker — The Maple and Main Festival. “We’re very proud of what the arts commission has accomplished here,” related Laura. “I think we’ve proven how the arts can grow a community because of the things we’ve been able to do. It’s unfortunate that the arts festival cannot be held this year due to COVID-19, but we’re confident that we will be able to continue to grow the arts in Sylvania.”
This exceptionally talented leader plans on continuing her involvement in her business and the Arts Commission for the foreseeable future. And she is grateful to be able to live and work here in the city she calls HOME.
Sylvania Advantage and Creative Oxygen salute the talented Laura Jakes, a key leader in promoting Sylvania arts and a long-time business owner and resident. We’re so glad you are a part of our community, Laura!

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