New Location - the journey and the wait for the perfect space at the perfect time.

Just to bring you up to speed in case you are a fairly new fan/friend of Bella Vita... We just celebrated our 10 year anniversary in November 2018. This date also marked 4 years in our current retail location in the Lafayette Building.

Flash back to December of 2012 when I was listening to the Little Rock NPR station while I was living in Oklahoma. I heard a story about some buildings on Main St. in downtown Little Rock that were soon to be developed and rehabbed in to mixed use buildings. This got me really excited because the whole time we lived in Oklahoma, we knew we would return to Little Rock as soon as possible. I make a few trips to visit to the capitol city to check out these buildings on Main St. Meet with the developer a few times and then finally in March of 2013, I sign a lease on a small studio space in the back of the Arkansas Building on the corner of 6th and Main St.

Matt and I returned to Little Rock the summer of 2013 and I moved Bella Vita in to 3 different temporary spaces (shout out to Julie West, Ellie Roy, and Justin Roberts for housing me when I needed help). Then in October of 2014, the developers of the space I was waiting on offered to let me lease the space in the Lafayette Building, where we are currently, until the studio space next door was ready. I took them up on this offer and set up shop. Work on the Arkansas building next door eventually halted and the project was pretty much abandoned by the original developer. Not sure all the exact details but it sat vacant and mid construction for a really long time. I think there were lawsuits and all sorts of stuff, it was a mess until someone new swooped in and actually finished the project in 2017/2018. 

Here are a few old blog posts I dug up if you have any interest in the time line:

Fast forward to Mid February 2019 when I get the news that my friend Matt is moving out of his Gallery space at the end of the month. His space is beautiful. South facing windows, full of light, beautiful wood floors, a tiny little loft for my office -- everything I ever dreamed of and imagined for the original space I signed a lease on! Which, to update you on that, it will now be our storage room as it was never finished out with the rest of the building. And the Gallery space is 100% better because it is larger and has a street presence on 6th St. The exact address is 108 W 6th St, Suite A, Little Rock, AR 72201 -- google it if you want. Or better yet, swing by the shop and I'll show you in person because it is right next door to our current location. I signed the lease the day before I left for my India trip and the day after I made a deal with my Grandfather to purchase my Grandmothers antique button collection. To say 2019 has hit me full force, is an understatement. But, I fully believe that all 3 of these huge life events happening at once were meant to happen, and I've never felt so good about the buttons, the India trip, and the 3 year lease I signed. They are the reason I've busted ass for the past 10 years. I can't wait to share the new space with you! We will have so much more room than we currently have. I plan to curate more visiting artists for Pop Up Shops, Workshops, Events, and more. I want it to be more than a shop, I want it to be a community space where everyone is welcome. I also plan to expand our retail offerings and have lots of surprises in store.

We are going to start moving as soon as we can. The walls need to be painted, the windows need a UV treatment, and we need to demo some shelving in the loft... but other than that, its beautiful and move in ready! My goal is to be open in time for 2nd Friday Art Night in April. Thats a lofty goal though :) Will will keep you updated via our email newsletter and social media.

I truly can't believe that my journey for a home for my little shop has come full circle and I'll be a tenant in the building I originally set out to be in. IF you know me at all, you know I've been window shopping for the perfect space in Downtown Little Rock for years. Being downtown is important to me for many reasons, mostly because I am an old soul and I believe there is so much life in these historic buildings. I also believe in reusing what we have already built, and I just love the vibe of the downtown community. 

I hope you will come out and visit us when we get moved and also patronize our amazing new neighbors. We will be next door to the beautiful new Handle Barbershop, and close neighbors to The Rep Theater, Three Fold Noodles, The Arkansas Ballet, Cranford and Co., & the Downtown Partnership.

One last thought, I appreciate everyone that has shopped with us over the years in the Lafayette Building. The space is tiny and I know its gotten cramped at times and I've always appreciated your patience with that. It was the perfect starter space for us and we maximized our opportunity there for 4 1/2 years. It's time for the next step. 

See you downtown!

Matt admiring the new view and the extra tall ceilings and the NATURAL LIGHT!!!

The view from the loft where my office will be.
Coming SOON!!!





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Boss Lady - Collin McReynolds

Several months ago, ok, maybe a year ago, I was inspired to start a blog series called "Boss Lady". The mission behind Boss Lady is to inspire young women (and men) to follow their instinct/talent/passion and become entrepreneurs. 
My team and I are reaching out to all the woman owned businesses that inspire and amaze us on a daily basis. We will start with a brief background, then dive in to the nitty gritty of running a business, what keeps them inspired, and everything else in between. 

Hi, I'm Collin! I am currently living in North Little Rock, with my amazing partner Rene, little man Braden, and crazy cat Mary. My journey wasn't an easy one, however, I am super thankful for my experiences because it makes me super thankful for where I am today in my life journey.

What I am about to share is not something that I have ever expressed publicly. When I was approached for this, I knew what I wanted to say... but wasn’t quite sure how to put it into words (which is why this was submitted well after the due date). Sorry Ladies!

After I graduated High School my dream was to attend Culinary School. I can remember rolling out dumplings with my great grandmother and getting so much joy out of it. I enjoyed cooking more than anything, and knew early on that I wanted to be in the food industry. I would like to say that I went down the path that I had a HUGE passion for, sadly I did not.  I was involved in an abusive relationship that shaped a large part of my young adult life. Instead of dreaming and jumping head first to make my dreams a reality, I spent most days alone and became a person I did not recognize. At age 21 I gave birth to my beautiful baby boy. I was in an unhealthy relationship, had an unhealthy relationship with food, and did not provide a safe & healthy home for my precious little man. Years went by, and my world became very sad and scary. I lived many days in a constant anxious state fearful of what the day would bring. In an unsuccessful effort to keep peace, I allowed myself to believe what was happening was all in my head. Years go by, and I became even more depressed, isolated, and someone I did not recognize.

In 2013 I made a decision to make a change. I'm not quite sure what was different about that particular day. I did take note of how I felt when my then current spouse was gone for some time and a huge weight was lifted off of my shoulders. I could finally sleep at night and focus on being a good mommy and providing a safe place for my son. It felt AMAZING to sleep peacefully. When I noticed the feeling of the weight lifted, real sleep, and like I could breathe again, I knew what I needed to do to get my life back. At age 24 I finally escaped the craziness. I decided I deserved a healthy life replacing fear with joy & it was my duty to provide this for my little boy. I knew it had to start with me getting myself healthy & surrounding myself with healthy people. With no clue of where to start, I reached out to my local CrossFit. I always saw them doing cool things when I drove by & everyone looked so happy. Not knowing what that was, I knew it's what I wanted. I instantly felt like I had a family of support & the impossible now felt like just a matter of time. I laughed, felt calm & started to find my true self.

Although I knew I had the support I needed, it was far from easy. More challenging than the workouts was the challenge of facing how much I had let myself go. I took one day at a time and quickly realized how I was fueling myself mattered. I decided to demand respect for myself and my boy with what we ate. I jumped into a Paleo Challenge Rene was teaching. The results were clear...not only was I dropping body fat but my skin cleared up, I had energy throughout the day & was even able to get off medications. The only problem was that I'm a true foodie & really missed my hearty foods. One by one I began creating meals with paleo friendly ingredients that I would "crave" so that this new eating style could be sustainable forever. Eventually I had developed a pretty substantial list of Paleo friendly meals I was ready to share with everyone.  I wanted everyone to know they could still enjoy amazing food & flavor and get the results they wanted!!

Today I still deal with a great part of that former life. What I can say is that those years made me stronger. After my divorce, I lived by myself for the first time in my life. It was just Braden and I with a fresh start. I am grateful for the adversity because it shaped me into who I am today. No matter what your story is; you can create a life where dreams become a reality. It takes jumping into the un- known with an optimistic mind. Sure, I could stress over all the craziness that comes with owning my own business (which I do), but at the end of the day I can look at where I am today and know that this is exactly where I am supposed to be.

  1. Give us your elevator pitch.  I create meals that are nutrient dense with quality ingredients designed for those looking to recover from an illness, athletes looking to recover quicker, and busy folks who need convenient healthy food. We use 100% grass fed, grass finished beef, pastured chicken & local produce. Our meals are carefully designed to fuel your body with the nutrient density it deserves leaving feeling satiated and prepared to enjoy life to it's fullest.

  2. What is your business?  Crave Fuel LLC

  3. When did you start your business?  April 2014

  4. What inspired you to make the leap?  I have always wanted to own a café (mainly because I was inspired by Sue's Pie Shop in the Heights & The Victorian Garden). After changing my eating habits and activity level, I lost about 50 pounds. The weight I lost was only a piece of what I gained. I also had mental clarity, my skin changed, my hives I dealt with where less frequent and my sons health issues changed because of the food we were eating. I quickly started learning how powerful nutrition was and it consumed me. I started converting my great-grandmothers recipes to a Paleo friendly version. I spent time educating myself on nutrition to pursue my dream of being in the food industry. I started researching Paleo businesses, traveling to see what was out there, and knew that Little Rock needed a Healthy Meal Service with quality being the number 1 standard.

  5. What helps you get started each morning? Coffee, diet coke, 10 mile jog, meditation??  I go to bed at night thinking of my Coffee. It seriously gets me excited!!! I am pretty picky when it comes to my coffee and struggle to find coffee that doesn’t hurt my stomach. I have found that Leiva's Coffee (local business) does not hurt my tummy and it tastes SO good! My cat and Braden love to wake me up too! The cat literally screams at me as an alarm and my little man will tickle my face... They are the best alarm clocks!

  6. Tell us about a day in the life of running your business.  With Crave, each day of the week is different. I'd have to say Wednesday is my favorite. The day beings reviewing the progress of the previous week and planning for the following week. This is also the day I schedule meetings with future and current clients. I can't even explain how rewarding it is to see someone that came to me with desperation a month ago & now walks in the door feeling great! This is what fuels me more than anything to keep our standards the amount of money can trump this.

  7. What keeps you motivated?  My clients- seeing them transform, reaching their goals, and fueling their bodies with the nutrition needed to heal & perform their best.

    My Partner, Rene- She is my biggest cheerleader. She motivates me to achieve my goals and dream BIG!

    My Son, Braden- Providing a healthy environment and showing him that anything is possible.

    My Former Life- Constantly bettering myself, growing, and being strong

  8. Describe your dream day.  Wake up without an alarm to the smell of coffee!! Crave is fueling a healthy life for my family and our incredibly caring Crave Team financially while fueling our amazing clients all over Central Arkansas! The success stories continue to pour in. Our clients with autoimmune issues are living better than ever.

  9. What is your greatest strength/super power?  I'm a fighter. Not letting adversity set me back, instead looking to the future and moving towards greatness!

  10. Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat? Facebook & Instagram! I have tried Snapchat, but I need to learn more about that one!

  11. What do you do in your free time? (ha! What is free time?!)  Hahaha! I am working on this one... currently working towards finding free time to discover what I love to do in my free time. I love escaping in a good tv series. I get lost in my favorite books learning about nutrition. I'm currently enjoying The Loving Diet by Jessica Flanigan which is about healing with Self Love.

    I absolutely LOVE going to yard sales and vintage stores. I want to free up my schedule and spend more time doing little things that I love and miss.

  12. If an investor gave you 1 million dollars to use toward your business, how would you spend it?  Crave would open up a store front & expand to offering meals all over! We would offer more hands on cooking opportunities & seminars to educate the public. There's so much more we can do for our health. I have a special passion for helping people heal themselves from terminal illness & autoimmune issues. I would invest in my team & build partnership to take wellness and nutritional healing to a whole new level. At Crave, we are not business people that started healthy business just to make money. We are health people that started a business to offer and have ourselves a high quality life! We aim to live life to the fullest and we believe that starts with what we eat.

  13. What’s the biggest risk you ever took; how did it go?  Creating Crave with only $50; it was one of the best decisions I have made!

  14. Name something you hate doing but have to do for the good of your business. How do you make it tolerable?  Spreadsheets!!! I play Tracy Chapman, start my diffuser and get after it. I can't stay focused on this for long so I plan frequent breaks preferably outside in the sun!

  15. How do you handle discouragement?  If I think I may be discouraged because I'm tired I add some sleep or a nice relaxing bath before bed. I post affirmations, review the progress I've had so far & try to celebrate all the achievements along the way no matter how small. The goals I have for Crave can feel overwhelming at times, however I quickly remember I have such a strong team and supportive clients. I'm not attacking this mountain alone!

  16. Which iconic person inspires you?  Danielle Walker, author of Against All Grain. Last year I went to her book signing and she was so inspiring. Read her story on her website, you are guaranteed to be inspired!

  17. Do you have a favorite, inspiring quote?  "Find out who you are and be that person. That's what your soul was put on this Earth to be. Find that truth, live that truth and everything else will come." -Ellen DeGeneres

  18. If you could choose anyone to pick as a mentor, who would you choose?
    Simon Sinek: His Ted Talk inspired me!!! I need him in my day to day life.
    Dr. Terry Wahls: I want to consume all of her nutrition knowledge!

  19. Who are you in your next life?  My cat! I am SO Freakin Jealous of my cat some days. She naps on a heated blanket whenever she wants, eats Paleo duck cat food (always fresh), uses the restroom on blue self scooping crystals & does what ever she wants! She's a princess.

  20. Any secrets on how you balance the ins and outs of running a small business?  Think with the end in mind and delegate sooner than later. Think big, be clear on your vision & build a great team around that vision.

  21. What’s the best advice you have for other women wanting to be entrepreneurs?  Get a mentor & link up with the great people of ASBTDC (Arkansas Small Business & Technology Development Center)! They have been a wealth of knowledge, guidance & support. Don’t let anyone or anything discourage you from what makes you happy. 

Find Collin on social media:
Crave Fuel - Instagram - Facebook
Crossfit Align - Instagram - Facebook
Collin McReynolds - Instagram - Facebook

All Photos By: Saira Khan

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