By KELLY STILES | The Arkadelphian
What started as a childhood fascination for Michelle Eads has turned into one of Arkadelphia’s newest businesses.
Michelle, the owner and operator of South AR Creations, has created and sold custom signs, cornhole boards, door mats, and a plethora of other items for about five years. Having moved to Arkadelphia about three years ago, she has hosted several paint parties for the community, including a couple at the restaurant Slim & Shorty’s located in downtown Arkadelphia.
Desiring her own space to host parties and to sell her creations, she has opened a brick-and-mortar location at 2903 Pine Street, in the green strip mall near Hamburger Barn. While paint parties are currently hosted at the location, the store portion of the business is set to open in early March.
“I wanted a space to call my own,” Michelle said.
During a paint party, Michelle will set out different wooden cutouts and a variety of paints for partygoers to choose from, as well as paint brushes and paint pallets. She also provides a selection of ribbons so that participants can add bows to their creations. People of all skill levels can participate in these events, which typically last one to two hours.
“It’s a place where you can have fun, hang out, and talk,” Michelle said. “They can follow my design or they can do whatever they want to do.”
Michelle’s favorite thing to make is a cornhole board, which is a 6-hour process consisting of cutting and sanding the wood, gluing and nailing the frame together, painting to the customer’s specifications, then spraying a clear coat on top to protect the paint and wood from fading or chipping.
The young artist began refurbishing and selling used furniture out of her house in 2018, during her junior year of college at Southern Arkansas University. After graduating with a degree in exercise science, Michelle married her high school sweetheart Tanner Eads in May of 2020. The couple grew up in Camden where they attended Harmony Grove High School.
“I grew up learning how to work with my hands,” Michelle said.
Michelle has enjoyed making wooden creations and painting from a young age. Her father, Al Eads, would do carpentry in his spare time, and her mother, Cindy Eads, would paint constantly. Michelle has fond childhood memories of spending time at DeGray Lake with her family.
In the midst of the COVID pandemic, Michelle worked in physical therapy at South Arkansas Cardiac Rehab in Magnolia. She and Tanner decided to move to Arkadelphia to be closer to Michelle’s parents, Al and Cindy Hovis. Having had their first child in 2021, Michelle resolved to turn her side-hustle into her full-time career, to not only follow her dream, but create flexibility in spending time with her growing family.
“I’m excited to be my own boss,” Michelle said.
Tanner works as a machinist at Triumph in Hot Springs and has played a large role in helping Michelle get her new shop ready. They now have two children, ages 2, and one month. In their free time, Michelle, Tanner, and the kids like to go hiking and spend time on DeGray Lake. They attend Second Baptist Church in Arkadelphia.
“We love Arkadelphia,” Michelle said. “It’s definitely a growing town.”
South AR Creations will also provide custom home decor, wood planters, T-shirts, mugs, pillows, and even art supplies. They will be open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Their next paint party is this Saturday, Feb. 18 at 4:30 p.m. Visit the South AR Creations website for more information.