Para la versión en español, oprima aquí.
After 13 years of working as a nurse, a string of events led Kaelyn Armstrong to realize there are other ways to help people than physically healing them. For her, that meant becoming a business owner.
An avid coffee lover, with a great appreciation for tea drinkers, Kaelyn worked part-time as a barista for a few years while she was a traveling nurse. She also went on a mission trip to El Salvador last May and learned about the working conditions of coffee farmers and workers.
“I have always had in the back of mind that it would be nice to have my own business, however, in the last three years it has really developed into a dream of mine,” Kaelyn said. “All of these experiences just kept rolling together until I decided this was the path for me.”
With the encouragement of her many nurse friends, she combined her love of coffee and passion to serve others when she opened her mobile coffee shop, Saved By The Well, in May 2023.
Saved By The Well operates out of a converted school bus. Kaelyn turned to the Center for Rural Affairs for assistance in buying the bus and the necessary equipment and supplies.
Becky Parker, loan specialist with the Center, guided Kaelyn through the process of getting a loan, which she received in early May 2023.
The Center was able to help Kaelyn secure financing through support from a federal program called the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP). Along with loan funds, RMAP allows the Center to help clients through one-on-one counseling, such as business planning, organizing expenses, and much more.
“When working with Kaelyn, I felt she was going to be an amazing business owner,” said Becky. “She has the personality to work well with people and the drive to make it happen, and since she opened, things are going great.”
Kaelyn also used a portion of the loan for a new paint job and some detailing work on the bus.
“Becky is encouraging, totally understands small business in western Nebraska, and just really put wind back in my sails,” said Kaelyn. “She stood by me the whole time and worked hard to help me along. I’m so grateful to her—she got me in touch with all the right people and went to bat for me.”
Although Kaelyn is the sole owner and operator of Saved By The Well, she has a big support system. Her mother helps with bookkeeping and taste testing, her husband runs shop errands, her step-daughter helps with all things technological and social media-related. And her youngest son helps by selling lemonade.
“Even though that sounds very small, it is a huge asset on hot afternoons, and I couldn’t do it without him at afternoon farmers markets,” Kaelyn said. “My middle son and daughter constantly inspire me to work hard and accomplish my goals. And God. He makes it all come together.”
Kaelyn says Saved By The Well is more than a coffee shop to her, more than a business.
“It’s not just coffee; the Well represents a place where people have gathered forever to get sustenance, and for women, specifically to socialize,” Kaelyn said. “Back in the day, women would go to the well early in the morning to beat the heat and fetch water for their families for the day. It was a time of togetherness.”
The coffee connoisseur prides herself on providing her customers products from sustainable sources. She sells direct trade coffee, sustainably sourced teas, real fruit smoothies, Italian sodas, and inexpensive flavored lemonades.
“My smoothies are real fruit so parents can feel good about getting their kids a sweet treat, and the lemonade is inexpensive, because I was a single parent at one time and it feels terrible to not be able to get your kids something special every now and then, but also sometimes you just don’t have that extra $5,” Kaelyn said. “I wanted products that taste good, but also do good.”
Saved By The Well is open Saturday and Sunday mornings at Kingsley Dam Resort at Lake McConaughy near Ogallala, Nebraska. Kaelyn also sets up at birthday parties, farmers markets, weddings, county fairs, and volleyball and basketball tournaments. This fall, she’ll be at local soccer fields every Saturday morning. Kaelyn also caters if customers don’t need an entire bus at their events.
“I was inspired to open my business by the people I served in hospitals, nursing homes, and clinics, and their families,” she said. “The inspiration that came from them was not always from their illnesses, but from their desire to feel comforted, loved, and for someone to just be kind to them.”
Eventually, Kaelyn would like to grow her business into a storefront so people have a place to gather and feel loved and comfortable. Until then, she continues to work hard and share her kindness and inspiration with those around her.
“My favorite part of being a business owner is knowing that I can do it,” Kaelyn said. “I have felt a real freedom in being able to tell others you can be a lot of things. I’m not just a nurse. I’m also a small business owner. You can do more than you realize.”
Need financing to start your own business? Contact your regional loan specialist. Find yours at cfra.org/lending-staff.