This Month:

This Month:

Share This Story:

Share This Story:

It’s these kind of proprietors that make Central Arkansas unique and special. As a small business, Inviting Arkansas recognizes the impact < and resilient spirit > of visionaries – friends helping friends, neighbors supporting neighbors with a belief that the future is bright.

11220 N Rodney Parham Road, Little Rock
501.221.9195 |
Photography by Lori Parkman Photography

Not everyone gets to work at their dream job. But that is exactly what Susan Parke, owner of Beyond Cotton, gets to do every day. “This doesn’t feel like a job at all. I get to go to a place where I love the people, both staff and clients and play dress up,” Susan laughs. “If that’s not great fun, I don’t know what is!”


Beyond Cotton specializes in unique clothing brands from across the globe. “Women who shop in my store do so because they like the fact that what they buy won’t be seen all over town. It’s a responsibility that Susan takes seriously as a business owner. She attends markets across the country several times a year looking for clothing lines that are not mass-marketed online and not sold by other local boutiques. “I’ve actually dropped lines that have been important to my business because the designers started selling direct to consumers at a lower price point than my business could sustain,” Susan says. “But our philosophy is simple. If we were able to build that line, we can surely build another!”

When walking into Beyond Cotton, customers are met with a friendly, “welcome in” and music from decades past, anywhere from the 50’s to the 90’s. “There is a LOT of dancing, laughing and singing in the store,” Susan says, “and sometimes a little wine drinking,” she adds with a wink. “We focus on a woman’s personal style, not on mass fashion. There is a big difference. Fashion is what you see on the runway. Style is how you express yourself through what you wear.” When asked what the average customer may look like, the question is met with an enthusiastic nod. “Great question! We used to be known as a store that caters strictly to an older clientele, but I think in the 10 years since I’ve owned Beyond Cotton, I’ve seen a more diverse age range. One of my favorite customer photos is of a mother in her 70’s, her daughter in her 50’s and her granddaughter in her 20’s loaded down with Beyond Cotton shopping bags.” From the looks of the customers in the store on this particular day, we think there will be something for generations to come.

Owner Emily Gray
Benton | North Little Rock | West Little Rock
Photography by Jamison Mosley

The concept of Chicken Salad Chick is simplicity and excellence. A dedicated team at each of the 230+ locations continues the relentless pursuit of perfecting chicken salad with exceptional service and hospitality. With three franchise locations in Central Arkansas, Emily Gray is devoted to this brand and its vision: spread joy, enrich lives and serve others.
Emily discovered Chicken Salad Chick as a student at Auburn University. “My sorority sister invited me to lunch ‘at the cute local place’ and I was less than excited about chicken salad,” she remembers. “I was immediately taken with the enthusiasm of the all the team members and all the kinds of ways to make chicken salad.” That summer Emily met Stacy Brown, the owner of Chicken Salad Chick, during a job interview. “She emphasized the importance of guest service – treating the store like a home and our customers like friends we invited for a


These ideals resonated with Emily and her family’s values. “Watching my dad and the way he motivates people made me realize companies are only as strong as the team.” Initially, she worked at the store and later helped Stacy expand the business. “I traveled across the southeast assisting in opening more than 100 restaurants.” The philosophy of Chicken Salad Chick, in addition to the variety of handcrafted flavors made fresh every day, is a story of teamwork + dreamwork. “I was in Hot Springs and my business partner Hudson Sandefur called to tell me that the Little Rock market was being developed with franchise opportunities. I knew it was meant to be!” Her family is involved in thoroughbred horse racing. “I was familiar with Central Arkansas and it felt right to make it my new home!”

With locations in Benton, North Little Rock and West Little Rock – Emily believes the Chicken Salad Chick story is not just about chicken salad. “We want to help team members, all amazing individuals, reach their full potential and create better lives for themselves.” Whether it is college tuition, a car payment or leadership skills – Emily motivates her employees with a strategy for personal success. She remains dedicated to the Chicken Salad Chick vision of a bright, better community.

Executive Chef & Owner Payne Harding
425 President Clinton Avenue, Little Rock | 501.850.0265 |
Photography by Lori Sparkman Photgraphy

Overlooking the Little Rock River Market, Cache Restaurant offers an urban appeal that blends seamlessly with Southern hospitality and welcomes guests to an extraordinary dining experience. Executive Chef and Owner Payne Harding believes attention to detail is paramount – elevating every encounter with impeccable atmosphere, service and cuisine.
“I love hearing guests tell me ‘I don’t feel like I’m in Little Rock when I am at Cache’ and that’s because employees know that our guests are our top priority,” Payne explains. “Employees are the hands and feet of the business.” Greeted with a warm reception and crisp cocktail, everyone is a friend at Cache. The state-of-the-art, open-air kitchen creates inclusion that Payne hopes seems inviting as well as accountable. “It’s very visible to diners – allowing a more personal feel for everyone who enters.” With special consideration to creating a sense of community, the restaurant boasts a lively private dining space for weddings, receptions, corporate meetings and more. “We have been so blessed to grow our large
party and event business over the last five years.” He notes the global pandemic cultivated a tenacity to try something new and consider a different perspective. “We learned that a business is like a living organism…


COVID-19 obviously threw curveballs at the whole world. We found ways to grow, encourage and adapt.” A family-owned business for more than a decade, Cache Restaurant
depends on a reputation of excellence that evolves with time and culture. The uncommon offering is expected, and ever- changing, on the eclectic menu. Ingredients, sourced locally when available, reflect Payne’s visionary approach to his Arkansas heritage. The restaurant’s name is homage to his family’s history along the Cache River. “Being a multi-faced large business – it was hard to see of all of the potential at the beginning. We’re happy to keep growing and serving so many different groups of patrons.”

A NEW EXPERIENCE and location
Owner & Stylist Amy Hester
2410 Glover Street, Little Rock | 501.664.4RED
2410 Glover St, Little Rock | 501.664.4RED |
Photography by Lori Sparkman Photography

“I just LOVE the color RED! It’s a bold color that indicates confidence and personality. I want everyone to feel great; that’s part of the appeal of this business… clients leave feeling better than when they arrived.”


And that’s the inspiration + determination of Amy Hester. She believes in community and realizes that for the Capital City to be its best, it takes collective energy derived from optimism + “awesomeness” and Red Beauty Lounge delivers the magic. “Relationships are the most important part of this business, and really of life. If we can create a space that celebrates inner beauty and inclusion, we’re headed in the right direction.”

Red Beauty Lounge is a luxury experience. Whether it’s a cut and color by the talented team of stylists or a facial + lash extension, it’s the camaraderie coupled with expertise that exceeds expectations. “Our new location has lots of windows and natural light. It brings a new vibe to our well-established products. And ‘customer service’ are still the two most important words in business.”

Amy’s community service is unwavering. Despite a hectic work schedule, she finds time to support organizations that improve the welfare of fellow Arkansans. “It’s a responsibility that we all have, if we want the world to be a more beautiful, equitable place.”

Owners Sarah & Fidel Samour |
Photography by Stephanie Parsley

Fidel Samour is passionate about coffee and culture. He was reunited with childhood friend Jorge Raul Rivera and realized that Raul was selling his green coffee in Arkansas. Fidel and his wife Sarah visited Raul in El Salvador later that year and the rest is culinary history.


This farm-to-retail project in Arkansas continues to evolve in the East Village of Little Rock and the Samours recently introduced Sterling Market to the neighborhood. Located in iconic Sterling Paint Building, the name celebrates the rich history of the area and the community that it helps cultivate. “We focus on people across the entire supply chain and on high quality ingredients,” Fidel explains. “We source as much as we can from local businesses and farms to create a unique experience for our guests.”

This finite focus on exceptional offerings serves them well. Fidel believes that bringing the right people into a business is key to success. “Our chefs determine a diverse menu for both Fidel & Co and Sterling Market based on fresh and available products.” It is this attention to every detail that remains paramount. “The process in which the coffee and food are made are very important to us.” From bakery items to pizza, salads and sandwiches – Sterling Market is full of fancy < and delicious > surprises. As the couple reflects on this dream to introduce the best coffee and community to Arkansas, it’s with reverence to the process. “We imagined a partnership that would not only bring an excellent coffee experience to Little Rock, but also honor all who were involved in creating it.” After designing a beautiful space and gathering a talented and devoted team, Fidel & Co opened its doors in 2019 with Sterling Market following in early 2023. When asked about lessons learned, Fidel says to “never undervalue what you bring to the table.”

Owner Katherine Eldridge
1023 W Markham Street, Little Rock
501.376.1195 |

The Little Rock food scene is impressive. George Eldridge added to the intrigue when he contracted the right to bring ‘Doe’s Eat Place’ to the Capitol City. Now, President & Owner Katherine Eldridge continues to honor the restaurant’s rich legacy by maintaining the no-frills tradition and keeping business simple. It remains a treasure trove of history with a business philosophy that truly resonates. “Treat everyone that walks through the door like family,” and this family has been doing that for 35 years.


The Eldridge family opened Doe’s Eat Place in Little Rock in 1988, making it the first eatery outside of the original Mississippi establishment. The world-class steaks and other assorted eats are impressive enough to earn notoriety, but loyal celebrity diners have also contributed to the folklore of Doe’s. Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign in 1992 placed Doe’s in the national spotlight as the backdrop for campaign meetings, interviews and celebrations. From entertainers to athletes, colorful guests have made this little place on the corner a haven of good times and vault of history; Memorabilia graces the walls like a time capsule.

To reiterate, “There’s Always Something Good Cooking at Doe’s!” This declaration stands true from old classics, like their award-winning steaks, to new favorites. Despite familiarity with the famous, Chef David has been serving celebrities and locals alike for more than 30 years. These distinctly delicious options and always entertaining crew bring back the regulars, celebrities or not, with an undeniable Southern comfort that remains a classic.

Owner Ashley Norris
501.230.5728 |
Photography by Lori Sparkman Photography

Ashley Norris believes good business is pretty simple: work smarter, not harder. Bella Rustina Modern Vintage Market – hosted 5-6 times per year in Central Arkansas – is a labor of love for Ashley. “During college I worked at Becky’s Hallmark in Searcy and fell in love with collectibles, creating displays, and the excitement of the holidays. As I learned about current collectibles, my interest turned to vintage and antique collectibles” She wanted to create an event where customers buy authentic vintage, one-of-a-kind handmade creations, trendy boutique clothing and decor, and yummy food and treats from exhibitors. This required a two-fold strategy. “I’ve got exhibitors and shoppers to retain and recruit – plus there’s the logistics of selecting venues and planning an exciting event.”


Featuring more than 175 exhibitors, Bella Rustina Modern Vintage Market boasts something for everyone. From one-of-a-kind art pieces to over-the-top vintage collectables, each event is carefully curated to appeal to exhibitors and shoppers. Having promoted 68 events since 2011, Ashley remains steadfast in her commitment to excellence “Don’t stop when you’re tired; stop when you’re done.” And she’s fulfilling her dreams as a business owner and a stay-at-home-mom for her two children.

She realizes the quality of exhibitors = quality events. “My exhibitors work so hard to find and/or create the items they sell. I go above and beyond to make their event experience as smooth and successful as possible.” It’s creative additions and unique offerings that complete the Bella Rustina Modern Vintage Market experience. “We have something for everyone. Antiques and vintage lovers can find over-the-top décor and collectibles; Those who want one-of-a-kind art and gifts find many talented artisans; shoppers looking for the latest trends in décor and clothing enjoy Bella Rustina’s new boutique section, and some visit my events for the food trucks and amazing snacks like fried pies, baked goods, and coffee.” It’s an undeniable winning combination. For the July 14-16 Bella Rustina, Ashley has teamed up with Roy Dudley of Roy Dudley Estate Sales and Krista Hughes of Caring Transitions of Little Rock Metro to host an appraisal event where customers can bring items to learn their value. Visit for more information.

3 Rahling Circle, Little Rock | 501.821.4669 |
Photography by Sarah Oden

Friends and neighbors of O’Looney’s Wine & Liquor know when they walk through the door of the rustic style West Little Rock shop, there’s a three promises guarantee. Owner Jonathan Looney has built this business on these values: kind and personable service, well- curated international selection and best in market pricing. This unwavering commitment to excellence sets the bar apart from local competitors and is made possible by the exceptional team of industry experts that Jonathan has carefully crafted.


“Finding humans who believe at their core that customer service is the highest form of service to the community is an integral part of the success of my business. I would never be able to do what I love without the integrity and teamwork that my incredible crew exhibits every day.”

O’Looney’s Wine & Liquor boasts the first and only wine club in Arkansas It’s part of a loyalty program that recognizes clients and dedication to the community. From wine and spirits consultants to the operations team, everyone at this small but mighty shop is dedicated to Jonathan’s vision of gratitude, knowledge and service. These programs and people reflect this belief.

Store Leader Elliott Griffen came to O’Looney’s Wine & Liquor with 14 years of experience in the business – both with on-premise and distribution. He works closely with Public Relations Leader Kacee Hudson, who joined the team with an extensive background in the industry before moving to Little Rock to take on this role. Together with Jonathan, the entire team brings the ultimate concierge experience to clients and the community. Stop by the shop, meet the dream team today and become a member of the Shamrock Wine Club.

Kate Price, Operations Partner
Promenade at Chenal | 501.821.2808 |
Photography by Jamison Mosley

For nearly two decades, Indigo has been a staple in Little Rock for discerning denim enthusiasts. Mainly because they hold the largest selection of denim of any local boutiques in the Midsouth. Indigo specializes in designer denim featuring Mother, Citizens of Humanity, AGOLDE, Paige, Hudson, Pistola,Frame and Blank NYC. Most people believe we are named Indigo because of our denim, but that was really by chance! The name Indigo came from a children’s book written by a friend of the partners located in Memphis, who started the first Indigo 29 years ago in Memphis, TN. Indigo is more than denim!


It’s a one stop shop for all the retail needs offering denim, handbags, gifts, and everything in between! They have now been located at their expanded location for 10 years in Little Rock, located at The Promenade at Chenal, this contemporary boutique features world-renowned designer brands from: Free People, Sanctuary, Farm Rio, French Connection, Daydreamer, Hammitt, Jenny Byrd, Dolce Vita, and many other staples for the fashionable females in this area. Operator Kate Price insists, however, it’s more retail therapy. “When a customer walks into our store, we want them to feel at home.

We consider them friends and want each to look their best. Our job is complete when we send a customer from the store feeling better than when she came to us for fashion advice. We want to help women look their best and help establish confidence.” Kate and her team curate the store with apparel for every occasion. “We can help plan wardrobe for a trip to the beach, a wedding or a business trip.” She believes that’s what keeps the business fun and diverse. “We create our own environment and atmosphere here. “Our staff has become family and so have our customers. We have been through many stages of this crazy, beautiful life together.” She jokes. “At least we look great in the latest fashion!” There’s attention to detail in every aspect of inventory and service. “Our selection and staff set us apart from other retailers.

As far as product, we still offer the largest selection of denim in the region! We have a well-established team that’s knowledgeable and understanding of every brand we sell.” These industry experts boast a perfect fit and style guaranteed. “The confidence and beauty that comes with a great outfit is a bonus!” “Our future is very bright and we thank all our customers and staff who have supported us over these last 20 years in business. We are hosting a party in their honor with great music, giveaways, food, libations, and discounts!

Experience the Difference
Owners Heather Baber-Roe & Craig Roe
302 W South Street, Benton | 501.403.1057 |
Photography by Lori Sparkman Photography

It started with a food truck in 2012. Craig Roe remembers, “One horrible experience with my then-boss led me back to the industry.” Craig and Heather remain devoted to food service – bringing the best ingredients, atmosphere and hospitality to every encounter. From the Benton Baja Grill food truck to brick-and-mortar businesses that also include Rober Cocktail + Culinary, Revival Restaurant Beer Garden and Valkryrie Axe Throwing – this dynamic duo believes in the power of people, places and perseverance.


With experience that spans more than three decades, the couple still works “in the trenches” with their team of industry experts. “We’re running food and drinks, clearing tables and doing dishes with them. I think our staff respects that,” Craig explains. Heather adds, “We also make it a point to talk to every guest and prepare the best product possible.” She admires that most people can tell a difference in quality of food, service and gratitude.

Heather’s success is perhaps in her family genes. “My parents and grandparents were always in the restaurant industry owning their own BBQ spots; my parents started a steakhouse when they were only teenagers.” Craig worked in restaurant kitchens, at hotel banquets and as a bartender. He notes that this culinary journey still impresses them. “Neither of us grew up with much, so sometimes we have to stop and let it all sink in… what we have accomplished.”

Rober Cocktail + Culinary boasts American cuisine featuring a charcuterie bar, cocktail lounge and a lovely terrace. Unique offerings include bacon, bourbon and whiskey flights – in addition to traditional beer + wine flights. Their shared insistence on supporting the Benton food scene is unwavering. “The connection we’ve gained with so many people and the fact that we can be creative with what we do – our friends in what we like to call The South Street Entertainment District – crave the experiences. We choose local every time and share gratitude with our team and our guests.”

Emily Allen, Owner & Certified Instructor
8118 Cantrell Rd, Little Rock |501.475.6006 |
Photography by Lori Sparkman Photography

Core Concept Fitness is an innovative, energetic studio in the heart of the Capital City. It brings women and men of all walks of life together for movement + wellness with a sense of camaraderie that builds continued commitment to individuals’ fitness goals. Not only will you join others in the class-of-choice – but also a community of supportive, friendly peers that spans beyond studio time.


For nearly a decade, Emily Allen has offered this gathering space with a finite focus. “I consider Core Concept more than just clients and fitness, it’s a community of friends and fellowship with a shared philosophy of well-being.”

Emily continues to navigate this small business with ease + grace. Her intent to evolve and exceed client expectations is unwavering. “We’re always looking to bring new ideas to our classes with low impact yet high intensity results.” Instructors utilize certified methods delivering workouts with extraordinary results. The classes include methods and modifications specific to prenatal and postnatal, those just starting a strength journey, for advanced athletes, those recovering from an injury or surgery, to those simply looking for a mental break. “It’s the perfect combination of grace + grit – we work hard, have fun and feel better than expected.”

The recently renovated, reimagined studio offers custom, state-of-the art equipment as well as a comprehensive portfolio of services: barre, bounce, cardio, TRX strength and stretch classes with modifications available for every level of fitness. The studio maintains an aura of tranquility and loveliness, despite bustling activity in the lobby among friends. A community has emerged, reflecting Emily’s vision of a welcoming space with remarkable results. The Core Concept Fitness experience is unique; members agree.

501.804.8432 |

Personal projects are why I create. Whether it’s the landscapes or the feminine, I am passionate about my work. I found photography by accident, or maybe photography found me. My freshman year of college I drove my roommate around to small towns in Arkansas, photographing her for a photography class. As I watched her throughout the day, I began to think the camera was magic. I loved the thought of capturing glimpses that are enduring through time. As soon as I could afford a camera, I began on my journey with a camera in my hand and bathrooms made into darkrooms. The camera and I have had a love affair ever since that glorious day!


As a self-taught photographer, my narrative continues to be themes of the transient, the passing of time and rebirth. Recently, the way I see with my camera and the way I interpret what I am feeling have changed. And, as it should be as I grow older, I am not the same as when I began my artist’s journey.

I see more poetry with the ordinary and I add metaphors. I see a mystery that unravels like a spool of thread in my work. I believe all images are self portraits. They are little snippets of my life that show up in my work. Time, light and memory (experiences) really make up my photography. My inspirations and those that have influenced me are Keith Carter, Susan Burnstien, Josephine Sacabo and Sally Mann. I am enamored with the old master’s light and color palate such as Vermeer. I love the connection each of these artists share with their art and the search for the meaning of the photograph.

My biggest gift with photography has been my persistence and my love of being meticulous in the digital darkroom as well as with my love of learning. I always have doubts about what I create, but I have to let them dissipate and create art that I love. Not every image is great, but oh, when it is, I know.

Inviting Arkansas in Your Inbox

Sign-up for our newsletter today!