The Conway Area Chamber of Commerce presented its fifth annual Women in Business Awards on December 6 at Centennial Valley Events Center. According to the chamber, the awards honor “individuals in the Conway area who have excelled in leadership and community service and who have inspired others.”
This year’s recipient of the distinct Diamond Achievement Award is Rhea Lana Riner, Founder and President of Rhea Lana’s Franchise Systems, Inc. and Rhea Lana’s Children’s Consignment Events. She certainly embodies the traits outlined by the chamber, as her successful business has seen exponential growth, and she has provided entrepreneurial opportunities to many other women.
With a name synonymous with shopping for good deals on children’s clothing, toys, décor, and more, Rhea Lana’s sales are “The nation’s premier children’s consignment event venue™.” She notoriously began the sale in her living room in 1997. With a room full of friends, armed with hanging clothing racks and tags, a sale was born! At this initial, informal sale, Rhea Lana handwrote each tag. Later, her husband suggested computerizing the event, which eventually led to Rhea Lana’s becoming the country’s first web-based consignment event.
The event was specific to Conway until 2004, when a sale was added in Little Rock. In 2006, the event grew to include a sale in Northwest Arkansas. As the Arkansas-based consignment sales continued to grow, Rhea Lana’s eventually expanded to add a total franchising package. In 2008, the company began offering Rhea Lana’s Franchise Systems, Inc. Today, Rhea Lana’s sales can be found around the country, with new franchises added frequently. The initial idea has culminated in 80 franchises in 24 states.
“Franchising Gator named Rhea Lana’s among the Top 200 fastest growing franchises in 2016. [The organization] has been recognized as a Top Retailer and Franchise Business by FBR the past five years.” Rhea Lana and her business have been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Bloomberg Business. She has also been featured on numerous television and radio broadcasts and in the International Franchise Association’s publication. Additional awards include Top 200 Fastest Growing Franchises in 2016, Top Retailer, Top 50 Franchise Business, Silver Stevie Business Award for Maverick of the Year, the Silver Stevie Award for Woman of the Year, and the Bronze Stevie Award for Company of the Year. Given these distinctions, Rhea Lana’s honor as the Diamond Achievement Award winner is no surprise!
Upon learning of the honor, Rhea Lana said, “Receiving this award is incredibly special. To even be considered for this award is truly humbling. When I consider the other extremely accomplished women who have received this award before me, I feel even more humbled and also very proud of my team who are committed to serving families with excellence. I love Conway! I raised my family here and started my business here.
“So to receive this award in my hometown is the most special award I have ever received. It represents so many moms, dads, and families who have supported our children’s consignment events over the past 20 years. Without these families, without my incredible team, and without my family, this award would not be possible. I’m very grateful to be part of a community that values entrepreneurs and women in business.”
The Conway Area Chamber of Commerce honored several others as Outstanding Women in Business award winners. Those honorees included Jessica Crum, Heather Drilling, Debbie Goodwin, and DeEnna Runyon. They also awarded Marla Hambuchen and Donna Robertson as Outstanding Women in Nonprofit, a category introduced last year. Each of the honorees completed a questionnaire for the Chamber, and following are some of the responses:
Rhea Lana Riner
Franchise Systems, Inc. and Rhea Lana’s Children’s Consignment Events
What advice would you give other women in business? Stay true to yourself, and be who God created you to be. Commit to excellence, and reach beyond your comfort zone to keep discovering your strengths. Love others and always do the right thing. Be honest. Be brave. Life is a journey, and you never know where this journey will take you, so embrace each day with joy and a grateful heart.
Describe your family: I’ve been married to my amazing husband, Dave, for 31 years. My daughter, Rebekah, is married and living in Tulsa, Oklahoma. My son, Ben, works and lives in College Station, Texas. My daughter, Leah, lives and works in Stillwater, Oklahoma. All three went to Conway Public Schools, graduated from Conway High School, and earned academic college scholarships due to the quality education they received here.
What are your hobbies? I enjoy running and reading.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be a sports journalist and a mom!
What is your favorite morning drink: Hot tea.
Describe your dream vacation spot: Any place with sunshine and a beach.
What is your favorite karaoke song? “We Are the Champions.”
What is your guilty pleasure? Dark chocolate.
Silverlake Design Studio
Jessica Crum founded Silverlake Design Studio over a year ago after working in the fashion industry. She is the owner and design director. The company initially offered graphic and apparel design. It has expanded to provide branding, web design, and comprehensive marketing services. In addition to several local companies, Silverlake Design’s client base spans from Los Angeles, California to Miami, Florida. Of the award, Jessica says, “This is such an honor! I’ve loved being part of the Conway community, and I feel so thankful for the support and friendship of fellow business leaders.”
What advice would you give other women in business? You are super woman! Allow yourself to believe the positive feedback and see negative feedback for what it is, an opportunity for improvement.
Describe your family: My husband, Justin Crum, is a producer at AETN. My daughter Mila is a nine year-old soccer goalie, and my four year-old son Isley is obsessed with snacks.
What are your hobbies? I’m an explorer. I love to travel and find local hidden gems- mom and pop eateries and coffee shops. Serendipity in Leslie, Arkansas is one of my favorites! I also love anything crafty, including journal binding, jewelry making, and crocheting.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be a long list of creative things, but when I discovered fashion design it took the lead!
What is your favorite morning drink: Latte.
Describe your dream vacation spot: Cinque Terre, Italy.
What is your favorite karaoke song? “Elephant Love Medley” from “Moulin Rouge.”
What is your guilty pleasure? Boggle and “Gilmore Girls” bingeing.
Green Bay Packaging
As human resources manager, Heather Drilling’s work has ranged from successfully negotiating five labor agreements to acquiring commemorative items for the company’s 50th anniversary. She strives to ensure her female co-workers in the male-dominated industry of papermaking have a sense of belonging. Heather adheres to an open-door policy with all employees and communicates regularly with union leadership to maintain strong relationships. “I was so grateful just being nominated. Knowing someone thought so highly of me and the work I do at Green Bay Packaging to nominate me was gratifying. When I was notified I was one of the individuals selected, I couldn’t believe it. I am filled with pride knowing I work for and with a great group of people who support me.”
What advice would you give other women in business? Life is entirely what we make of it. We can’t control others’ attitudes or actions, but we can control how we act. Be kind to others and yourself. As women, we tend to be our own worst critics, so stop, and don’t be so hard on yourself.
Describe your family: My husband David and I celebrated our twentieth anniversary this year. We have two sons, Ben, a tenth grader and Jack, a fifth grader, both at Sacred Heart Catholic School in Morrilton. We also have Lamar Walker, a tenth grader at Morrilton High School, who David and I consider our “third son.”
What are your hobbies? My favorite thing to do is watch my sons play basketball. I also enjoy reading, spending time at the farm with family and friends, and cooking. This year I became a CASA volunteer; it’s been an eye-opening experience to see what children go through and overcome. Children are our future, so any time we can make a difference in a child’s life we should.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be a lawyer.
What is your favorite morning drink: Coffee with French vanilla creamer.
Describe your dream vacation spot: Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia.
What is your favorite karaoke song? “Mustang Sally.”
What is your guilty pleasure? Red wine.
Arkansas Roofing Kompany
and Equinox Outdoor Concepts
Debbie Goodwin and her husband started Arkansas Roofing Kompany out of their home seven years ago. They now own and operate three businesses in Conway. Debbie is no stranger to working in a male-dominated industry. In addition to her local businesses, she has started a construction company and a horticultural company that supports low-income women. Currently, Debbie is working on plant cultivation and is developing programs to help South African women provide for their families. “I’m both humbled and honored [to receive this award.] All the glory goes to Jesus. As a woman and Christian, I just want to do my best at helping humanity utilizing whatever abilities I have. I’m looking forward to hearing, ‘Well done thy good and faithful servant.’”
What advice would you give other women in business? Look at the big picture, always. Sacrifice, be ambitious, and take risks. Push though, persevere, and be brave. Never be afraid to fail. Put others before yourself, and look for ways to give back and think outside the box. Take care of family, staff, customers, and the environment with the utmost respect. Seek peace and pursue it, and be the solution not the problem. Add value every day to everyone you come in contact with. Lead with integrity.
Describe your family: I am blessed with an amazing husband and business partner, Tim Goodwin. My son, David, has a Bachelor of Science in Sports Management, and he works for Val Properties in Colorado. My daughter, Danielle, is a chemical engineer with Becktel Corp. Tim and I are blessed with extended family in Arkansas and Florida.
What are your hobbies? Horticulture is my number one hobby, specifically tropicals and mushrooms. I enjoy both water and snow skiing, mountain climbing, Zumba, ballroom dance, and traveling.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be a meteorologist. I couldn’t afford to go to college without living at home, so business and horticulture were my number two picks. I’m thankful, as horticulture and business were truly best for me.
What is your favorite morning drink: I grow and make my own teas. I would have to say my “flower tea,” which consists of dried Reishi mushroom, purple basil flower, lavender, rose hip, and hibiscus flowers.
Describe your dream vacation spot: I adore New Zealand and Australia. But our perfect vacation, which we repeated twice, was Flamingo Guanacaste, Costa Rica.
What is your favorite karaoke song? “Ventura Highway.”
What is your guilty pleasure? Dark Belgium chocolate.
Conway Regional Foundation
As events coordinator for Conway Regional Health Foundation, Marla Hambuchen has helped in the tremendous growth of the Conway Regional Golf Tournament, Dazzle Daze, the Tribute Tree, and other foundation programs. Marla strives to lead by example and believes if motives are pure, good decisions will result. The success of events such as Dazzle Daze provides a good example of teamwork and the importance of relationships she has cultivated over the years. “This award is a humble reminder that I am so very fortunate to live in a community that values service to others and respects women who commit themselves to those efforts. What an honor to be included in such an accomplished group of women who exemplify leadership, dedication, and professional integrity and who reflect all that is right in this extraordinary place we call home. Being recognized in this way encourages me to remember the small things we do each day make a difference. In the words of Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
What advice would you give to other women in business? Balance, perspective, and excellence. Women are uniquely wired to want it all; be kind to yourself. Know your priorities, and don’t be afraid to put first things first. Broaden your perspective; there is much to be learned from walking a mile in someone else’s shoes. Intentionally strive for excellence every day and surround yourself with others who do the same.
Describe your family: My husband is David Hambuchen. My daughters are Mary Margaret, Elizabeth, and Caroline, and my son is Harrison. My parents are Judson and Carolyn Hout and the late Richard Hardwick.
What are your hobbies? If there were only more time in the day! I enjoy anything creative, sharing life with friends, and creating a happy and healthy home. My children, family, and church will always be my special interests.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? A ballerina, a professional tennis player, or a stock broker.
What is your favorite morning drink: Coffee with cream.
Describe your dream vacation spot: There are so many! Greece was my favorite, and I would love to spend time roaming Italy and our happy place, St. John, US Virgin Islands are a few.
What is your favorite karaoke song? You’re kidding, right? Been there; done that. Just ask the French guy who booed me off stage!
What is your guilty pleasure? Drinking red wine with the love of my life, David, who is my mentor, best friend, and greatest advocate.
Donna Robertson M.S., L.P.E.
Birch Tree Communities
Donna Robertson spent the last 30 years working in the mental health field. As a licensed psychological examiner, she has provided counseling services to thousands of individuals. Donna believes she can help those living with mental illness become more independent, active members of their communities. Donna currently serves as co-director and clinical director of the Conway branch of Birch Tree Communities and is responsible for ensuring the staff provides evidence-based best practices to help members. Of the award, Donna says, “It is a humbling experience, and I feel much honored to receive this award. I know there are many, many women with the same desires to be of service to others and who have probably done much more than I have done in advancing their organizations and causes. So I think of myself as representing all of them.”
What advice would you give to other women in business? Oh, my! I would probably ask their advice. But I do think finding something you believe in and making a commitment to follow your beliefs, being open to change, learning from others, and continuously blending all you’ve learned into your own process is a wonderful method for any profession. I think I would tell them that curve balls will come; there will be days you want to run away and hide, but believe in the process, pick yourself up, and get very curious.
Describe your family: I have two grown children, Kathryn and Whit Knisley, and one grandson, Whit Jr. Kathryn is an attorney, and Whit has a construction business. I’m so very proud of them, and we are close and always know that someone has your back no matter what. I’ve been very pleased to serve as mom to my grandson. It’s like watching Kathryn and Whit growing up again, but his time I have a little more wisdom and know where some of the rough spots will be.
What are your hobbies? I love being close to or in the water, watching birds, and working in my yard. I love being at home and fluffing my nest and reading at night. I love anything having to do with my grandson - his baseball games and his friends - but his race cars do make me nervous. My intention is to make great memories for him, as well as the grown-up kids. My special interest remains doing everything I can to bring about more understanding of mental illness and doing away with the stigma and false beliefs about mental illness and the people who deal with these illnesses.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? When I was very young I thought I wanted to be an actress or artist. I wanted to be just like Loretta Young, Lucille Ball, or my Aunt Corrine; after all she was a modern woman and lived in New York. I also thought about becoming a psychiatrist, but I was too insecure to pursue that goal. It was in my early 30s that I finally gave in to my calling and returned to graduate school for my master’s degree in psychology and counseling. I’ve never regretted my decision.
What is your favorite morning drink: Definitely coffee with milk and sugar.
Describe your dream vacation spot: Too many to name, but I love the Gulf Coast, and I want to go to Costa Rica.
What is your favorite karaoke song? “Blue Moon.”
What is your guilty pleasure? Beautiful fabrics, art, shoes, TV dramas (especially those on PBS), candles, and a really good gin and tonic on a hot summer evening with friends.
As a Christian, mother, and wife, DeEnna Runyon takes Regions Bank’s five core values to heart: 1) put people first; 2) do what is right; 3) reach higher; 4) focus on your customer (and family); 5) and most of all, enjoy life. Armed with the realization that people bank with people, DeEnna believes building relationships with customers and team members are the secrets to success. She tries to lead by example and coaches her team to do their best. Of receiving this award, DeEnna says, “It means our community, our city, and Regions Bank is important to me, and I will strive to exceed expectations in our ever-growing city. But also for my family, we are bought in to our chamber and the City of Conway each and every day, simply living life. Making sure others see our business community is a not just a stop but a destination. We make things happen!”
What advice would you give to other women in business? “Put people first; enjoy life; do what’s right; reach higher; and focus on your customer.” Always reach out to new businesses and new people moving into our city to make them feel welcome and help with any direction needed. On a personal level, always remember that people do business with people. Every business has products and services, marketing and campaigns, and every business has a competitor with the same products and services that you have. However, you are always on stage. You are always selling “you.” You are the reason people will want to do business with you and stay with you and your company. Being in the banking industry for the past 35 years, I am a firm believer in “People Bank with People.” With a bank on every corner, it’s you they are coming to shake hands with, not the product.
Describe your family: I am married to JR Runyon, who is market manager/director of programming and sales for Crain Media Group and is the voice of the Conway Wampus Cats. We have two children, Pierce Redmond Norwine, 22, shift lead at Starbucks in Conway, and Camden Reed Norwine, 16, a sophomore at Conway High School and linebacker for the Conway Wampus Cat football team.
What are your hobbies? I have a music background and am a rubber stamp collector. I love family time!
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? I always wanted to be a banker, seriously. My dad introduced me to the president of Parker Square Savings and Loan in 1979, and I never left wanting to work in the banking field.
What is your favorite morning drink: Venti Starbucks skinny cinnamon dolce with almond milk and no whip.
Describe your dream vacation spot: A cabin in the north, complete with snow and trees.
What is your favorite karaoke song? Anything by Journey.
What is your guilty pleasure? Starbucks and shopping. A great combo!