Featured Member: Laura Gilarski

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Making that leap to start your own business can be scary. Laura Gilarksi, Creative Director and President of Five Star Creative Group INC., knows firsthand what it’s like to step out of your comfort zone. 

In pursuing her love of art, she earned her bachelor’s degree in advertising, art, and illustration. Afterward, Laura worked at several different ad agencies in Chicago and gained knowledge and experience in the marketing world. It wasn’t until she was offered the opportunity to create an in-house ad agency for Johnson Products that she thought of branching out on her own. “After I started the in-house agency and it was successful, it gave me the courage I needed to pursue my dream,” says Laura. “I made the leap and started my own agency. It was scary at first but so rewarding.” This was back in 1995 and, 27 years later, she is still successful. 

While starting a business comes with its challenges, Laura does not see those as obstacles but as learning opportunities. “Minor business challenges make you grow,” she says. “What I find most important is to continually evolve. I’ve had my business for 27 years now and I can’t tell you how important it is to keep learning and evolving your business in order to grow. Everything changes and we need to be able to adapt, stay on top of technology and continually try new ideas.” By following her passion, she overcame and adapted to her business needs. Her favorite part of work is when she can see her client’s company, product, or brand flourish under her support. 

Art isn’t just working to Laura, it’s what she loves to do even outside of the office. “I enjoy teaching drawing classes to kids in after-school programs. I believe drawing helps you see the world in a whole new way. You appreciate the colors, details, shapes, and textures of everything around you,” says Laura.” She hopes to continue mentoring more young artists in the future. 

While her business was growing, Laura joined IAW in 2015. She was able to connect with other entrepreneurs and professional women like her. “Yes I have worked with several IAW members and I always appreciate the business,” says Laura. “But to me, IAW is more than that. I love meeting and talking to new people, hearing their stories, and learning about their businesses or careers. It’s a special, caring group where you are appreciated and supported.” She now connects other women to the support and community she found as the Membership Engagement Coordinator for the Orlando Park local chapter. Laura invites new members to participate in the opportunities available to them and find ways to grow professionally within IAW. 

Connect with Laura Gilarski:

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Want to find a community like Laura? IAW is open and waiting for women from all around the globe to join our community of professional women who want to expand their horizons just like you. Register for one of our weekly events, or find a local chapter near you to get started.

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