In The News

Preview: AC Hotel Little Rock Downtown

AC Hotel Preview

As members of the Downtown Little Rock Partnership, we were invited to a sneak peek of the AC Hotel Little Rock. The concept for AC Hotels originated in Spain by Antonio Catalán. Director of sales, Kerry Thompson, walked us through the $25-million transformation of the Hall-Davidson buildings and explained how every AC Hotel strives to encourage all of their guests to mingle with the locals and get to know the community they are visiting. To facilitate this kind of socializing, the hotel will open its doors to both guests and locals each evening to convene in the large, open lounge area where small plates and beverages, including a variety of Spanish wines, will be served. Breakfast will be available each morning, served European-style and will include options like freshly sliced prosciutto, Manchego cheese, and made-to-order open-faced toasts. There is a sound-proof meeting space available that can accommodate 10 – 15 people, complete with smart TV for presentations or video conferencing.

AC Hotel Little Rock

$25-million renovation of Hall-Davidson buildings preserves historic details

Throughout the tour, she pointed to the historic features of the building that were meticulously preserved during the construction of the hotel. Some of these features include original marble walls, antique tiling, crown molding, the original Hall Building directory, and even a U.S. Mail chute, which is very rare to see these days. Guest rooms have been beautifully, yet minimally designed with the goal of creating a space that offers the utmost comfort, functionality, and charm, while also providing every space with the best view of the city as possible. This design of integrating the old with the new perfectly mirrors their concept of bringing locals and visitors together in a shared space, and in doing so, the AC Hotel has created something new to the city of Little Rock, but familiar to those who call it home.

Start-Up Story: Taylor & Taylor Law Firm

Tasha and Andy Taylor

This start-up story features Tasha and Andy Taylor, who’ve teamed up in life, love, and law to form one of Little Rock’s most unique and dynamic power couples.

Husband and wife attorney team Tasha and Andy Taylor met at the UA Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law, where they both graduated in 2005. Five years into their careers, the couple founded Taylor & Taylor Law Firm, P.A. in 2010.  Since the beginning, the Taylors have focused on taking excellent care of their clients. Their motto, “we love helping people” is not just something they say, but it’s how the Taylors and their team approach every person they talk to at their firm.

The Taylors now manage a statewide personal injury practice and appellate practice. Their firm also handles family law matters, education law, and social security disability claims. Taylor & Taylor Law Firm is located in West Little Rock at the Centre at 10 building on Highway 10. They can be found online at www.TaylorLawFirm.com.

Rotary Club 99/Dunbar Middle School Mentoring Partnership

Hank Kelley with James Gray

The LRSD recently produced a video featuring Hank Kelley, Rotary Club of Little Rock 99 president, interacting with James Gray, an eighth-grader at Dunbar Magnet Middle School. The signature project of the Rotary Club is a partnership with Dunbar Magnet Middle School. The club currently has 20 members active in different stages of mentorship at Dunbar.

Hank mentors eighth-grader, James Gray, offering guidance, support, encouragement, and sometimes just an ear. Hank has tutored James in math, offered football tips, and donated his daughter’s drum set to the band. James is a member of the school band and football team and at a recent school assembly, he was presented with a music award and recognized for his grades — all A’s and B’s including an A in math. Both James and Hank look forward to a relationship beyond Dunbar and look forward to learning from each other.

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!

Hank Kelley, guest lecturer at UALR College of Business

Hank Kelley, Jr.

On Monday evening, Hank Kelley was invited by instructor Elizabeth Small to lecture her UALR College of Business Finance 4371 class. This senior-level class teaches elements of mortgage financing for housing and investment property; sources of funds; application and approval; real estate investment analysis; effects of financing and income taxation upon investment returns and is part of the college’s real estate program.

Kelley discussed the types of mapping and demographic information Flake & Kelley provides clients. National retailers rely heavily on location, traffic counts, other retailers, and competition, as well as demographics before deciding on a site. He also covered current trends in the commercial real estate market. He noted the increased interest from investors in multi-family properties. An investment group out of Cinncinati recently purchased the 84-unit Barrister Court apartments. Retailers, on the other hand, are figuring out how to do more with less. Kelley commented that Little Rock’s newest national retailer, Trader Joe’s, prefers keeping shelves stocked rather than leasing more space for storing goods. The Little Rock Port was recently in the news because the Michigan-based company, HMS Manufacturing, chose a 550,000 SF industrial space in the port to open its fourth manufacturing facility.

On the subject of investing in real estate, Kelley shared advice his father, who was also in the real estate business, shared with him, “Every piece of property you own owns a piece of you.”

Hank’s executive assistant and current student at the College of Business, Tara Mitchell, was invited to sit in on the lecture.

“I was so excited when Professor Small gave me permission to sit in on this class. It’s great to watch Hank share his knowledge with the next generation, and I am grateful for the opportunity to learn from such a successful person on a daily basis,” said Tara Mitchell.