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Meet Local Maker Michelle Geneser of ARRA



One of the things we love most about our space is the ability to feature so many incredible artists and makers from around the Midwest. Some of our favorite creatives are even based right here in Des Moines.

Michelle Geneser, owner of ARRA (formerly OVER+PRINT), is a talented local marker who creates candles and other fragrances inspired by some of our favorite natural elements. We are very excited to celebrate the launch of her new brand at Art Terrarium, as part of our After Hours event on Friday June 21st.

We couldn’t wait until then to start celebrating ARRA so we recently invited Michelle to the shop to chat about her business, where she finds scent inspiration, and give us a little demo on how she makes her incredible candles.




Q: Tell us a bit about how you started OVER+PRINT, now ARRA.

A: When I first started the idea was more that it would be more print-focused, hence the name OVER+PRINT. I have a background in screen printing. That’s actually what I majored in in college. I wanted to get back to doing that more, but over time I started dabbling in making candles for fun. Then I gave them to a few friends and got drawn to scents and creating new scents. That's something I’d never done before and it honestly kind of surprised me.

Q: Why did you decide to rebrand?

A: I kept creating more and was getting into sprays and perfumes. I looked at what I was doing and needed something that was a little more representative of what I was creating within my business.

Q: How did you decide on the name ARRA?

A: I spent a lot of time looking at different names (and website domains). I started playing around with different words and was thinking about what’s important about scent and what about that was interesting.

It really came down to the idea that when you have specific scent it reminds you of something, tapping into your scent memory. I wanted to play with that a bit, but those memories are so unique to you. Playing with the idea of your aura is where the new name, ARRA, came from. I have future visions of getting more into perfumes so I thought it was a good representation for my business.




Q: What keeps you most excited about your business?

A: I think it’s just the constant creating of new things. Whether that be something like a new scent or candle or changing up the packaging or the way I set up a booth at a craft show. Building all of those things into a brand is really what it comes down to.

Q: What’s been the most challenging part of running your business?

A: I think there are just a lot of things you obviously don't know when you start doing something like this. It’s a challenge but it’s challenging in a good way. You have to figure it out and find your way through it by learning and failing. You grow from that and it ends up being a positive.

Q: Where do you find inspiration for new scents and designs?

A: Specifically for the scents it's just lots of trial and error. What mood I’m in that day greatly affects what comes out of it. The weather has a big impact too. If it’s cooler out I’m creating these deep, dark scents that are very smokey. If I’ve been outside all day, it’s typically a lot lighter. It really just depends on what's going on in my day to day.



Q: What’s surprised you most about owning ARRA?

A: It’s so surprising to me that I’m so into creating fragrance. I never thought that's something that would interest me. As I’m getting into perfume it’s very chemistry based. As someone with an art background it’s not how I typically think and being able to use a different part of my brain has been cool.

Q: What’s your favorite houseplant?

A: I have a giant monstera in my dining room that is taking over everything, but I love it.