Entrepreneurship Panel: Turning Your Dreams into a Reality
Susan Desselle - Owner & Principal Broker, Desselle Real Estate
Susan Desselle, Owner & Principal Broker of Desselle Real Estate lived most of her life in Dallas before she relocated to Little Rock, and her home state, 12 years ago. Once back in the Natural State,she quickly realized that Little Rock made it easy to LOVE where she lived!
In 2014, after a very active and successful seven years helping her clients find and sell their homes, Susan opened her own agency, Desselle Real Estate, where she and her team of experienced, dedicated agents provide buyers and sellers with turnkey service every day.
With more than 12 years of experience assisting local buyers and sellers with their real estate journeys, Susan understands what her clients need, when they need it, and how to make it happen! Her mission is clear and drives her every day: provide expert guidance to her clients every day; lead her agent team toward their greatest growth and success; and raise the standards in the real estate industry for the benefit of all buyers and sellers in Central Arkansas.
Susan receives top producer and best agent accolades annually from the Arkansas Realtors Association, Little Rock Realtors Association, Arkansas Business, and Soiree Magazine. She is a member of Leadership Greater Little Rock (Class XXXIII), and serves on the board of the Little Rock Realtors Association (LRRA), is the Advisory Board for the ULAR Real Estate Center and the Professional Development and Professional Standards committees for the Arkansas Realtors Association (ARA).
For 32 years Susan has been married to the love of her life with whom she has two fantastic children, both now grown. Outside of her real estate endeavors, Susan is passionate about two local organizations in particular: Easter Seals of AR and the AR Prostate Cancer Foundation. For fun, she and her family spend their free time at Greers Ferry Lake, where they love to wake surf!
Carmen Portillo, CEO of Cocoa Belle Chocolates and Founder of CB-Dulce
In 2003 at the age of 19, Carmen Portillo left her hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas and moved to London, England. While abroad, Carmen had her first handmade, gourmet chocolate truffle. Later she traveled to Paris, France and caught the chocolate fever! Upon returning to Little Rock over a year later, she longed for that experience again, so she researched ways to learn the trade for making delicious, artisan truffles.
In 2007, Carmen studied at the Notter School for Confectionary and Chocolate Arts in Orlando, Florida combined with a certificate from Ecole Chocolat Professional Chocolate Arts, making Carmen the first Certified Professional Chocolatier in the State of Arkansas.
Carmen is the CEO & Chocolatier of Cocoa Belle Chocolates. Located in Central Arkansas, Cocoa Belle Chocolates specializes in handmade artisan chocolate truffles, barks, sauces and butters. Cocoa Belle Chocolates client list for custom work ranges from Fortune 500 companies, boutique hotels, and government officials.
In 2017, Cocoa Belle Chocolate landed on the pages of Vogue’s Culinary Collection featuring the new line of decadent chocolate sauces and chocolate butters. Cocoa Belle Chocolates was featured at the International Chocolate Festival 2018 in San Mateo, California with over 10,000 people in attendance. Retail locations are in downtown Little Rock inside Bella Vita Jewelry and in Fort Smith inside The Shoppes at BrickCity.
Most recently, Carmen is Founder of CB-Dulce, a line of cannabidiol infused chocolates launching late Spring 2019.
Rhea Lana Riner, Founder of Rhea Lana’s
In 1997, Rhea Lana Riner began her small business as a young mom with three small children after her husband changed careers, taking her family from a corporate salary to a ministry salary. Like so many people, she had a passion for fashion, but on a limited budget, she could not afford to dress her children as she hoped. Knowing many other moms who experienced the same challenge, she came up with an idea that would help them all: she invited a few friends to a small event in her living room to buy and sell their children’s used clothing.
The positive feedback from the first event was overwhelming, and she quickly realized that there was an eager market among families of all kinds for gently used children’s clothing. From this humble beginning, Rhea Lana’s was born and grew. Now twenty-one years later Rhea Lana’s Franchise Systems supports 92 franchises operating in 22 states and has received numerous awards. Entrepreneur Magazine has ranked Rhea Lana’s one of their Top 500 Franchises in 2017. Franchise Gator named Rhea Lana’s among the Top 100 fastest growing franchises in 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019. Rhea Lana’s has been recognized as a Top Retailer and Franchise Business by Franchise Business Review the past nine years, and was named a Top 50 Franchise for Women for 2017 and 2018 along with Franchisee Satisfaction Award in 2017, 2018, and 2019. Rhea Lana’s was also recognized by Franchise Business Review as 2017 and 2018 Top Innovative Franchise and Top Low-Cost Franchise in 2018 and 2019.
As a champion in her industry Rhea Lana Riner has appeared in Washington DC before the Senate HELP committee to discuss Women in the Workforce and before the House subcommittee for Workforce Protections. She has presented a bill to the United States Congress, the Children’s Consignment Event Recognition Act. She is frequently a speaker on entrepreneurship, women in business, social media in business and the franchising model.
Rhea Lana lives in Conway, Arkansas with her husband Dave. They enjoy visiting their grown children and especially their beautiful granddaughter in Oklahoma.