In The News

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.

HMS Manufacturing Co. announces production and distribution facility at the port

Gov. Asa Hutchinson

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported that Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Wednesday HMS Manufacturing Co. will open its fourth manufacturing and warehouse facility in Little Rock. Co-owners, Janet Sofy and Nancy Negohosian, were in Little Rock for the announcement. This operation will create up to 90 new jobs in Little Rock. Nick Kelley and Gary Smith of Flake & Kelley were in attendance. 

“We’re excited to see the increase in activity in the port and the creation of new jobs,” said Nick Kelley, executive vice president and partner.

Frito-Lay occupied a brand new $2.5 million warehouse facility in 2018 and in August of this year Smith closed on the sale of 35,600 SF at 4301 Mauney Rd. in the port. Currently he has an office building at 7773 Sloane Dr. listed  for sale.

“The Little Rock Port Authority does a great job promoting the port and bringing new business to Little Rock,” said Gary Smith, director of business development at Flake & Kelley.

Nicholas Kelley Joins LGLR Class XXXV

LGLR Class XXXV Announcement

We are pleased to announce Nicholas (“Nick”) Kelley has been selected to participate in Class XXXV of the Little Rock Chamber’s Leadership Greater Little Rock program.

“I’m honored to be part of the Chamber’s leadership program and look forward to the experience, camaraderie, and commitment,” said Nick Kelley.

This is the third consecutive year Flake & Kelley has had an associate accepted into the Leadership program and Kelley is the eighth associate of the firm to participate. Former alums include Jim Dailey (Class I), Hank Kelley (Class V), Daryl Peeples (Class VI), Bill Pendergist (Class XXIX), Drew Laning (Class XXXIII), Jessica Kokinos (Class XXXIII), and Cynthia Lu (Class XXXIV).

As an attorney specializing in real estate, Nick’s expertise brings a high level of real estate services to the firm. Prior to joining Flake & Kelley Commercial in 2017, Kelley served as a real estate associate with McGuireWoods in Atlanta, Ga. He also was a commercial real estate associate for Quattlebam, Grooms, Tull, & Burrow of Little Rock, Ark. He has represented real estate developers, Fortune 500 retailers, lenders, borrowers, and other clients on complex commercial transactions. In addition to his roles as executive vice president and partner at Flake & Kelley Commercial, Kelley serves as a member of the Central Arkansas Executives Association (CAEA) and Children’s Hospital Committee for the Future.

We congratulate all of the Leadership Greater Little Rock Class XXXV, presented yesterday in the Great Hall of the William J. Clinton Presidential Center.

“It’s an incredible program where participants not only learn to maximize their leadership potential but how to put it into action in the community,” said Hank Kelley.

The announcement was followed by a reception sponsored by Simmons Bank.

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.