By James Fenton The Daily Times, Farmington, N.M.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Jaimus Van Kieran is without a doubt an entrepreneur. Over the years she has come up with multiple ideas which have allowed her to continue to support herself and be creative. Her latest venture is an on-demand delivery service. From groceries, to restaurant pickups to grabbing a prescription for someone who is homebound, "The Goods" is ready to roll and serve. For small business women everywhere....sometimes keeping it small is big enough!
When Jaimus Van Kieran moved back to her hometown of Farmington after living in Phoenix for nearly a decade, she noticed something was missing. She no longer was able to call someone and have groceries or food picked up and delivered to her home.
The need grew into a business idea, and this month, Van Kieran, 38, launched The Goods, an on-demand delivery service.
"Everything I've done has been a selfish kind of adventure, doing things that I wish I had here that I don't," Van Kieran said. "I was trying to find something that kind of fit. I didn't want to work in a regular job."
One of those adventures was a six-month stretch when she couldn't find a satisfying breakfast burrito, so she started making them by the dozens at home, posting on Facebook about her stuffed-tortilla creations and delivering them to friends and businesses around town.
"People thought I was crazy. 'You mean I can buy one burrito and you'll make it and bring it to my house?'" Van Kieran said.
"But that's what I did. Thirty-six burritos a day. I love burritos and tacos. And I didn't work for anyone but myself."
Working for herself, doing something meaningful and carving out enough downtime in her schedule to go fishing are priorities she said many 9-to-5 jobs simply don't provide. Trying to find a niche for her talents, she said that she has worked countless construction jobs, been a welder, painted houses, helped train police dogs, served up coffee and done electrical repairs.
"Working construction, I was getting laid off three times a year. The bosses were always hyper-micromanaging and nobody wanted to work for them," she said. "Did the urban farming thing in my backyard. I got a taste of being self-sufficient and not having to rely on someone else, raising chickens, growing my own food. That life that I (had been previously) chasing was not real -- you know, the three-bedroom house, the new car, the picket fence, and the chocolate Labrador."
Working with an autistic child heightened her awareness of people who rely on others to complete daily tasks, a target customer base for her new venture, she said.
Van Kieran returned to Farmington to move in with her mother and assist her while she gets dialysis three times as she waits for a kidney transplant.
She said she began noticing how many of her friends had children with disabilities or knew friends who did. Learning about what their daily life looked like further committed her to the idea of running her own delivery business. Instead of bringing food or groceries to someone, she could help a schedule-strapped mother of an autistic child by taking an errand or two off of her to-do list.
"It's hard for them to get out," she said. "It's hard to pack everyone up and go to the store for just a few items. Just having the freedom to get what you need when you need it. My mom's visually impaired, so to have someone pick up a prescription is (a help). There's a lot of people in this community who need this."
Van Kieran said her uncle's Las Cruces salon uses a similar service to The Goods called Delivery Solutions, mainly to send out and receive towels and other common supplies the salon needs to keep operations humming along.
For $6, Van Kieran will take an order online or by phone and dispatch one of her contracted drivers to pick up and deliver just about everything besides people, cigarettes and alcohol within the city. Deliveries to Flora Vista and Harper Hill cost $7 and deliveries to Aztec or Bloomfield cost $8.
She considered using a smartphone application popular with services like Uber, but chose to keep the service limited to a webpage or phone for customer orders. Her drivers, however, use an app to to make timely deliveries, update the website with delivery info and communicate with Van Kieran to make sure everything goes smoothly.
Van Kieran said that the low cost is a built-in encouragement for customers to return. She wants them to see the service as worth the cost of getting their items within an hour.
She started her new venture with $150, she said. Working out of her home, she said a standard storefront was never in the cards.
"I (started by) sending a text message to 20 friends," Van Kieran said. "A couple said, 'Yeah,' so I had validation right there. I'm trying to make it as digital as possible. There's not a lot of businesses in this community that are totally digital. You don't have to have a bricks-and-mortar business anymore."
An admitted serial entrepreneur, she said she has a fondness for the atypical, the helpful and the sincere. Offering a service for people, whether they just don't feel like going out or have no choice because of a disability or illness, complements her view of what a positive community ought to look like.
Van Kieran sought help from business advisers at San Juan College's Small Business Development Center, or SBDC, before going ahead with her idea.
Frances DiBartolo, a SBDC business adviser, counseled Van Kieran and described her as "a natural entrepreneur."
"It was really quite encouraging to see what she wanted to do," DiBartolo said. "I do research before I meet with (clients) and it was clear Farmington didn't have what she was going to do. We don't have any services like that."
Van Kieran attended a series of training sessions at the SBDC and DiBartolo helped her cover all the preparatory parts of launching a new business -- things like licensing, insurance and timely record-keeping.
"Farmington ... we're so spread out and when it comes to the needs of sick people or elderly people, that they can pick up the phone and call and get some things delivered, is just fantastic," she said. "Does Farmington need that? Of course. Can you go to Safeway and get 10 items and bring it to me? Some of these businesses may deliver but they may charge a lot of money for (the service)."
Though business has been somewhat slow in the first three weeks, Van Kieran said she is hopeful that, over time, more people will hear about her service and give it a try. She said her goal is to take 50 calls a day.
"I think it's going to take a little while to grow, to know we're out there," she said. "Farmington's very used to not having very current services like this. Hopefully once they find us, they won't want to live without us. I think people will like having the service. I know I do." More info What: The Goods Delivery Service More info: Call 505-427-2026 or go to thegoodsdelivery.com