Laura Kelly lives in a world as whimsical as her art. Surrounded by people who share her aspirations to generate joy, happiness and empowerment in a vibrant, organized environment, she fills notebook after notebook with playful drawings inspired by everyday images: a child chasing a butterfly, a bouquet of flowers, a pair of cowboy boots, a swirl here and a curl there. Suddenly, a new collection is born.
Laura grew up in Upper St. Clair, Pa. immersed in books and art, and daydreaming of fairies, gnomes, dragons and castles. She began teaching elementary school in North Carolina, and found artistic inspiration in her students’ vivid imaginations. “When they told stories of make-believe, I found myself believing the magic of my childhood was recreated,” she says.
The birth of Laura’s oldest son opened a door that would soon lead to a promising new career. Unable to find a suitable birth announcement for her newborn, she designed one herself. “The design was of a baby and his puppy in the bathtub,” she says. “When I sent them out and got such a great response from friends wanting me to draw their kids and pets, the Paper People collection was birthed, too.”
And that was just the beginning. Laura opened a stationery retail store in the 1996, then launched the Paper Girls stationery line in 2002. She leased a brownstone in historic downtown Apex in 2003. Her Paper Girls warehouse fit perfectly in the back.
One licensing agreement turned into two. Before long, she had signed 15 contracts with companies like Andrews and Blaine, Learning Express, Books are Fun, Checks in the Mail, Clearly Fun Soaps, Converting Inc., Custom Candy Concepts, DRG, Lady Fortunes, Leap Year, Lovett, Royal and Langnickel, PLAID, Leanin’ Tree and Thirstystone.
In January 2008, she opened her very own studio. Laura Kelly Designs & Licensing in downtown Apex encompasses retail and wholesale products, personalized stationery services and licensing agreements. Her products are available at retail locations across the country and at her online store.
More contracts are on the way, and Laura can’t wait to sign them. “I love the experience of creating new relationships,” she says. “My favorite part of this job is all of the amazing people I get to interact with.”
- Licensing Artist
- Owner at Funky Monkey Paperie
- NC 36 and 42 at Legacy Center
- Teacher at Wake County Public Schools
- University of Kentucky
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