The Origin Story of a Local HER-o

. May 6, 2020.
Nicole holding Francis with Lexi. Photo by Jamie Ward Photography
Nicole holding Francis with Lexi. Photo by Jamie Ward Photography

Visionary mom shares her odyssey

Toledo mom, Lexi Hayman-Staples, is busy making Toledo even more awesome. Toledo’s art and LGBTQIA+ community knows that without Hayman-Staples, there might not be a thriving art center, and there certainly would not be a robust Toledo Pride celebration. Lexi is the Artistic Director for the Collingwood Art Center and the Toledo Pride founder/organizer. She also works and designs for local gem, Harold Jaffe Jewelers.

Lexi was born in Sandusky, Ohio before her family moved to the Old West End in the heart of Toledo. Around fourth grade, Lexi found her family uprooted once more to Bedford, Michigan. She shares, “Toledo always felt like home.” As an adult, she was eager to return to Toledo.

Creative souls do wander

Nicole with Francis at the TMA. Photo by Lexi Hayman Staples

Nicole with Francis at the TMA. Photo by Lexi Hayman Staples

A passion for creating art drove Lexi in many directions — studying art in college, working as a tattoo artist — but she was unable to settle on one career. With a deep desire to sink roots, Lexi partnered with her mother, Johanna Staples, to open Outskirts bar in 2008.

Not long after, Lexi found herself wondering what her next big venture might be, and a longing to see Toledo celebrate its own pride parade stirred the visionary to action. With $500 from her mother, another $400 from an anonymous donor, and some craft store implements, Lexi and her dusty school art supplies went to work. 

August of 2009 marked the first-ever Toledo Pride Parade, which was held at the Erie Street Market. Lexi recalls how she used poster boards and markers for the decor and colorful plastic table cloths for the backdrop. Optimistically expecting 1000 attendees, she was thrilled that 2500 showed up. Last year in 2019, over 20,000 Toledo Pride participants gathered to celebrate community, inclusion, and love. 

The makings of a family

After Lexi met Nicole Hayman in 2007, she realized she wanted to expand her life and family. With Toledo Pride’s success, paired with great progress at the Collingwood Art Center, Lexi found herself ready to make her life with Nicole “official.” Taking her original engagement ring design into Harold Jaffe Jewelers, she made an unshakable impression upon the owners, and before long, they had hired her for sales and design. With the security of a great career and new possibilities glimmering on the horizon, the couple was married on January 16, 2016.

Personal baby fever

Fancis June. Photo by Lexi Hayman-Staples

Fancis June. Photo by Lexi Hayman-Staples

A little under three years ago, some friends stopped by Harold Jaffe Jeweler’s with their new baby. Lexi describes the moment she held her friends’ baby as “personal baby fever.” She expounds, “As I held their little baby, I thought for the first time that maybe I can have a baby.” With Nicole pursuing her nursing career, the couple concluded that Lexi would carry their baby. Nine months later, they welcomed their baby boy, Francis June Hayman-Staples. 

No really, it takes a village

Nicole works long hours at the Toledo Hospital Cardiovascular intensive care unit and has a second career as a hairstylist, while Lexi works at Harold Jaffe Jewelers plus the Collingwood Arts Center. Lexi explains that with the help of aunties, friends, and the indispensable grandma (Johanna Staples), they are able to manage careers and a happy home life.

Busy as she may be, Lexi confides that her heart is at home. She and Nicole cherish the joys of parenthood, like watching their son antagonize Google Home until it plays his favorites. With “Old Town Road” or “Havana” pumping through the speakers, little Francis leads the dance party with three cats and a dog in the mix. Nicole shares, “My absolute favorite thing about being a mom is watching him grow, learn and experience new things.” She discloses, “I never thought I would understand the amount of love you can have for a child…it’s confusing and almost too much.”

With all the extra time at home these days, the family enjoys cooking creative vegan meals, Facetiming with friends and family, and all kinds of art projects. Lexi concludes, “Nicole and I have wanted to be parents for a long time. We are both so incredibly happy to have a great family and are enjoying it every step of the way!” 

Quick Quips:

Most valuable life lesson:
Value relationships and always try to respect others, especially when you don’t agree with them. 

Words to live by:
Be nice. 

Proudest accomplishment:
Toledo Pride (my original baby) and Francis June (my other baby).

Who’s your mentor?
Too many to list. I am constantly inspired by someone new and I love to learn. Also, my Dad was amazing, so that’s an easy pick if I had to pick. 

Most-used social media app:
Facebook with Instagram as a close second. 

Inspiration comes from:
Art, nature, family, and friends 

Best advice ever:
“If you’re not getting happier as you get older, then your [messing] up.”

Worst advice:
Don’t worry, it’ll all work itself out. Hard disagree…I love to worry. 

What lesson do you wish you had learned sooner?
Math is hard and you will have a calculator in your pocket.