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
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!