Most of the people Valerie Riley tells about her concierge service, or errand-running business, assume all of her clients live in Nichols Hills.
But her customers reach from Edmond to Norman, and include residents in Gatewood and other housing additions where homes may average 2,500 square feet or smaller.
What her 30-plus clients do have in common is a busy life, said Riley, principal of The Riley Group. Most own businesses — from home decor stores to accounting firms — and most have kids, she said.
“My goal was to make our service affordable for anybody,” Riley said. “Who doesn't need a little extra free time that a concierge can provide?”
A San Francisco native who holds a liberal arts degree from the University of California at Berkeley, Riley, 35, began her career working in investor relations for a technology company, but following the dot.com bust, moved to Dallas where she worked several years as an executive assistant-slash-personal assistant.
She relocated here in 2009, after reading in Forbes that Oklahoma City was the best city in which to start a business.
“I'd traveled here to visit friends, and already was considering the move,” Riley said. “I knew I liked the feel of the people and community, and took the Forbes article as a sign.”
She said she'd always wanted to own her own business like her grandparents had, and once ran a housecleaning business in her late teens.
Today, Riley and her four employees bring order to people's lives — from grocery shopping to pet watching to organizing closets.
“As much as they may like shopping, many people don't have the time, or care, to go to several different groceries on Saturday to fill their fridge or locate organic or other foods that can be hard to find.
“Others are crazy about their dogs and cats, and we become like nannies to their pets,” she said.
Customers often try out her firm, by asking concierges to organize a closet or home office, Riley said.
“If we can make their mornings run smoother — versus their searching for that one elusive shoe or their black pants that go with their white shirt — they're more productive,” she said, “and they can earn more money.”
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