A Toluca Lake mom wants to make her shop a gathering place for parents and young children to express their creativity.
Last December, Lora Jakobsen opened Zookies, a children's clothing boutique that recently started offering art, sewing and science classes for kids up to eight years old.
"I grew up where we knew all of our neighbors, we all played together, we all knew each other and went to the same school," the mother of two said. "I wanted to create a place for neighbors to come and actually get to know each other."
In 1999, Jakobsen began designing and sewing "chalkboard t-shirts" that can be drawn on by kids and later thrown into the wash for a refreshed canvas.
The Zookies brand has since grown to include baby bibs, capes for boys and fairy wands for girls, all available at the Toluca Lake location. Zookies also carries hand-knit baby hats and other toddler clothing items made by SoCal moms, Jakobsen said.
Step into the shop's backroom on any given day and a small group of kids, sometimes with their parents, can be spotted making art projects or getting sewing lessons from Jakobsen herself.
She also teaches a beginners' science class filled with experiments like making a miniature volcano.
"You don't have to get messy at your house, you can come here and get messy," Jakobsen said, adding: "We basically want to be a hub for the community."
Jakobsen's husband, Jakob Jakobsen, is the new head of the Toluca Lake Farmers Market. Read more about that here.