During pandemic, Detroiter turns love of painting into Paint'd Party Services

Darlene A. White
Special to The Detroit News
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Feeling like she had no choice but to quit her job during the pandemic, a Detroit mother of two knew she had to quickly come up with a plan to draw an income.

The joy of painting clicked with LaShay Heard, 24, before she entered kindergarten. So she decided to turn her passion for painting artworks into a business called Paint'd Party Services, Paint'd for short, which provides an instruction-led painting experience in clients' homes. She's currently turning a bus into a mobile paint studio where she can host paint parties, which she expects to be in operation at the end of June.

Heard quit her full-time job at a rehabilitation center soon after the pandemic forced childcare centers to close. The biggest problem is that her sons, Darrian Cole, 5, and Damion Cole, 4, both suffer with sickle cell anemia, an immuno-compromised condition that puts them at a higher risk of complications from COVID-19. 

Paint'd Party Services owner and lead instructor LaShay Heard works on preparing canvases for painting in her painting party bus in Detroit, Michigan on May 7, 2021.

Instead of having red blood cells shaped in a full circle, the brothers have a mix with regular blood cells and “sickle” shaped blood cells. The sickle cells will stick together, causing a "pain crisis," which can which can occur anywhere in the body.

“I tried to change my schedule to part-time because of my need for childcare and I needed to be with my kids,” Heard said. “When my manager gave me a hard time, I knew it was a sign for me to just put my notice in. It was just too scary to let my kids, who are already immuno-compromised, go out into daycares, and plus they had closed.

 "I decided to step back from my job and basically immerse full-time into my business."

Heard's love of painting began when she was a young girl.

"I’ve been painting since before kindergarten. I’ve been featured in several art competitions and galleries coming up through school," she said. "Painting brings peace. No matter how you’re feeling, it makes you calm down and eventually you’ll look up and won’t even realize your so relaxed. Painting just does that." 

Paint'd Party Services owner and lead instructor LaShay Heard sits a top of her painting party bus in Detroit.

Kicking off a mobile painting business was no easy task, said Heard, who saved her money to buy easels, paint brushes, canvases and other materials for the business. 

“I had to do a lot of saving and sacrifice. I started off with 17 easels and a few paint brushes; held my first paint party at Kemeny (Recreation) Center right in my neighborhood. I just worked my way up from there. 

“It’s a service that allows customers to host painting parties any and everywhere possible, because we travel to you. We have no set location, no set hours, no open and closing. We service whatever time and event our customers ask us to.”

Heard creates original designs on canvases for each party event she hosts.

Paint'd Party Services owner and lead instructor LaShay Heard works on preparing painting kits on in her painting party bus.

“I draw based on how I am feeling, my mood, the theme a client tells me their party is following, inspiration pics, etc.,” she explained. “Sometimes I freestyle, but if it’s a detailed canvas, I sketch one and use that sketch as a stencil for the rest.”

Stacey Stoney, 36, of Detroit said she learned about Paint'd in January while researching parties he could host during the pandemic.

“My experience with the paint party was amazing hands down,” he said. “My friends and family loved every moment at our paint party. It was something different and everybody has a different portrait to paint, which is nice. What I enjoyed most about the painting events was that we could all get together and just love on each other for those four or five hours that it takes to paint.”

Canisha Love, 44, said she hired Paint'd for event planning business, Love Creations and Decorations in Lincoln Park.

"My experience with LaShay's mobile painting business was awesome," Love said. "I get so much feed back from my clients. They absolutely love her work her professionalism her promptness. I’m a event planner and so many of my clients want to patronize painting with a twist, so I accommodate that for them through her." 

Since the pandemic's beginning, Heard's customer base has increased, servicing more than 2,000 clients since last year. She typically hosts up to 13 events per month. 

Each paint kit costs $15 and includes the paints, a template, instructions and a description of what the finished product should look like. She also offers virtual painting classes, another service that kicked off during the pandemic.

Paint'd Party Services owner and lead instructor LaShay Heard and her painting party bus in Detroit.

“We send out paint kits or deliver them to your doorstep, the day of the party,” she said. “Clients log onto Zoom and we go step by step. We have had music, a live DJ, etc. It is just like in person, except it’s virtual.”

Heard's   party bus will soon allow her clients to have paint and sip parties inside, with clients supplying their own beverages and food. Inside the bus will be a full art studio, a table and bar in the back, a projector and pull-down screen, portable sink, coolers and sound systems.

The pandemic has taught her a lot about being a business owner.

“Brick and mortar businesses will never be the same. And if I want to stay afloat, I have to figure out how to capitalize off of that,” she said. 

Paint'd Party Services

Call (313) 978-2144

or email info@dkpaintd.com

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