Category: Leasing

Start-Up Story: By Design

Cassy Harrelson

If you work in or around Simmons Tower, chances are good you’ve seen the small salon, By Design, in the southeast corner of the lobby. Cassy Harrelson has owned and operated the salon since 2009, but she’s been a part of the business for much longer than that. In 1995 she became a part-owner but sold her half of the business when she moved to California in 2000. Lucky for us, she moved back to Arkansas in 2009, bought the business outright, and has been running the popular downtown salon ever since.

Cassy is a certified nail technician with decades of experience, but when she began her journey, she might not have predicted just where she would end up. Her whole career started when she decided that she wanted to try to learn how to do her own nails. She really liked this new hobby and seemed to have a knack for it, so she began doing manicures for friends and family out of her own home. When she realized that she could actually go to nail school and get officially licensed, it just seemed like the most natural choice. So that’s just what she did, but she didn’t start working in a salon right away. Cassy was a stay at home mom for many years and was able to run her nail business out of her home. She had never even worked in a salon until she started at By Design in 1995 and just look at her now!

Cassy loves working downtown. The heavy foot traffic around the building keeps things interesting and helps her stay connected with her customers. Plus, most stylists have to work on Saturdays, but not Cassy. Because the building closes on the weekends, she doesn’t have to keep regular salon hours and she’s grateful for the freedom that brings.

By Design is open Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., though they are flexible to accommodate customers. Services provided include haircuts and coloring, extensions, styling, waxing, and of course, manicures and pedicures! Walk-ins are almost always welcome, but appointments are encouraged. So next time you need to spruce up a bit for that business meeting or dinner right after work, Cassy and her team at By Design have you covered.

Start-Up Story: AvaBella Day Spa

DeeDee Helbig, owner of AvaBella Day Spa

Flake & Kelley Commercial is proud to introduce a new series called, Start-Up Stories. We meet a lot of great people in our business and we want to share the entrepreneurial stories of people who love what they do. DeeDee Helbig leased space in Westchase Plaza fifteen years ago to open AvaBella Day Spa. AvaBella has grown to include a wide range of award-winning services and now employs 16 people. Thank you, DeeDee for sharing your inspiring story!

Growing up, I always dreamed of owning my own business. My dad owned a construction company and my aunt owned her own salon. So, I suppose you could say the entrepreneurial spirit is in my blood.

I received my esthetician (skincare therapist) license in 2000 and worked at a couple of day spas before I decided I was ready to open my own. I’m slightly hard-headed and like to do things my own way. So, I thought I should give it a shot, and I took the plunge in 2004. The moment I walked into the location in Westchase Plaza, I fell in love! I knew this was the right place for my day spa.

I started with just three employees, but the business took off so well that we expanded in 2010, despite the recession that was going on at the time. This was a huge honor for me because I know my business survives on customers having disposable income, which is typically scarce during economic recessions

A lot has changed over the years since I began working in this industry. When I first opened, the internet was in its infancy, iPhones and apps hadn’t launched yet, plastic credit card gift cards weren’t common, and online shopping was almost completely unheard of. Ava Bella was one of only three day spas in the central Arkansas area and now I believe there are more than 20! The industry is growing fast and getting stronger and stronger every year.

We are in our fifteenth year of business and have 16 incredible employees! I credit a lot of my success to how I treat my staff. I have always believed and tried to show by example that if my employees are happy, the clients will be happy, and when clients are happy, business is good. This simple idea has become a mantra by which I run my business and it has definitely paid off!

If I could give any advice to someone who is thinking of starting their own business I would say, first, be financially and physically prepared to work a lot of hours for very little money. I didn’t have a steady paycheck for the first two or three years! Second, never ever spend beyond your means. Most businesses go under because they can’t pay their bills. Last, and most important, treat your staff well. They are the backbone of your business. It’s kind of like a marriage, if they’re happy, you’re happy.

Cheers to 15 more years!

DeeDee Helbig, Owner

Ava Bella Day Spa

Cheers indeed, DeeDee! It’s people like you that make our state such a great place to live and do business. Flake & Kelley is honored to have played a small role in your success!

Kim’s Alterations Opens at Mississippi and Cantrell

Kim Lien Trinh of Kim's Alterations

Nick Kelley helped small business owner, Kim Lien Trinh, find the perfect space and location for her new venture. Kim’s Alterations opened at 2002 N. Mississippi, next door to Max Cleaners just off Cantrell Rd. Trinh gave the 1,200 SF space a clean, fresh, modern makeover inside and out before opening on Sept. 3.

“I love the location and the visibility from Cantrell,” said Trinh.

Kim Lien Trinh - Kims Alterations

Trinh in her workspace

Upon entering the shop, customers are greeted by an inviting seating area in neutral greys and browns. To the left of the entry is a curved, slatted wall enclosure where Trinh works. Most of one wall holds large spools of thread in just about every color imaginable. Her workspace is bright and organized.

“You should have seen the place before. It was dark, dingy, and had concrete floors,” said Nick Kelley.

Trinh has been doing alterations since 1994, first for S&K Menswear and then with her brother at International Alterations of Benton. Her services include alterations of men’s and women’s clothing, formal gowns, and beading. She also works on leather.

“My favorite things to work on are prom and formal gowns. I like to see how pretty the girls look,” said Trinh.

Kims Alterations

2002 N. Mississippi just off Cantrell

Flake & Kelley has a wide variety of commercial properties available of all types and sizes. Let our experts help you find your perfect space. Contact us today.