Just Delicious- Rolla, MO

  • Published: Friday, Dec. 6, 2019

Justina Keeney has been baking since she was young. In 2016, she decided to turn her hobby into a business and opened her storefront, Just Delicious. With the help of her family, she serves breakfast, lunch, and gourmet sweets from her shop in Rolla, Missouri. The self-taught baker finds joy in creating new treats and designs, and the support of her community is what makes her want to keep going and be successful.

Keeney wasn’t able to open Just Delicious overnight, though. She had business ideas and plans in her head, but she wasn’t sure how to turn her dream into an actual, viable business. After working out of her home for a few months, Keeney knew she needed to open her own store location. She had heard of the Missouri Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at the Missouri University of Science and Technology campus and she decided to get ahold of them and ask for help. Keeney then met Business Development Specialist, Karen Leatherman, who helped her get started.

With Leatherman’s help, Keeney was able to narrow down her ideas and develop a business plan. She received counseling and assistance with legal forms and licenses, as well as market research and other resources. As she moved into her new building, the SBDC helped her with any complications and questions that came up. If Leatherman didn’t know the answer, she knew someone who would.

“All I had was an idea and a dream- the SBDC helped me put it into a business,” Keeney said.

Even after four years, Keeney still goes to Leatherman for help and direction. Leatherman supports Keeney’s goals and helps her update her business plan as things change. Keeney finds that the SBDC helps keep her on track and reminds her when it’s time to regroup and make new decisions. Just Delicious now has a successful Facebook page, as well as a website where people can order food online. Along with expanding the menu to include sandwiches, coffee, and other breakfast and lunch items, Keeney also has full-time staff to keep the storefront running.

However, success doesn’t come without struggles. Her new lease brought about hurdles and challenges to overcome in regards to the previous business that occupied the space. Establishing her own brand, identity, and customer base took time, but now Just Delicious has the full support of the community.

Even more meaningful to Keeney is the support of her family. Her daughter, Lydia, and mother, Monique Johnston, are always in the kitchen helping test out new ingredients and treats. Keeney’s husband, Zach, and son, Wesley, are her favorite taste testers and do whatever they can to help her flourish in her dream business.

“I didn’t even think how much of a positive impact [my family helping] would do. They’re my number one fans,” Keeney said. “My mom is here with me every day, and I get a ton of maintenance help and support from my husband. I couldn’t do it without them.”

As she heads into another year with her storefront, Keeney can’t wait to continue inventing new flavors and products. She is always filling notebooks with ideas and testing things out in the kitchen. Holidays and other special events give her an excuse to get creative, but she always tries to keep the store stocked with gift ideas for any occasion.

“I love to bake every day, and I honestly don’t get tired of it. Having people buy my treats to cheer someone else up or make someone’s day is really cool,” Keeney said.

As happy as she is with Just Delicious’ success, Keeney has big plans for the future. She hopes to expand her business and offerings and has a goal of adding a food truck. She looks forward to continuing to work with Leatherman and the Missouri SBDC, utilizing their services and assistance in planning and developing her ideas.

“[The SBDC] is awesome,” Keeney said. “They’re always the one to say ‘let’s sit down and go over things.’ Any goal we set, they have helped us get there.”