Intsacart gives shoppers the flexibility to transition careers, give back to the community

Raymond P has starred on Broadway in shows like Hair, The Three Musketeers, Miss Saigon and Jesus Christ Superstar. He’s been in movies like Charlie’s Angels and even played the role of Jafar in a stage production of Disney’s Aladdin. Raymond will be the first person to tell you — with very real humility — what a blessed career he’s had as an actor and he will also be the first person to tell you how important it is for people with blessed experiences to give back to the community.

These days Raymond’s in the process of change. He’s converting decades of singing and performing into a new career as a songwriter. “That really feeds my soul right now,” he says.

He and a few partners in Los Angeles have launched a company that writes tunes for singers searching for their next hit. But Hollywood is a place where connections are king. One of the partners at Raymond’s company has a strong rolodex, but it’s still a grind to get their songs to all the right ears. And the company only makes money when someone buys a song and the rights.

“It’s a very connected industry. They don’t take unsolicited material,” Raymond says. “We’re still relatively young.”

So Raymond has had to find ways to pay the bills outside of songwriting and started working as a Personal Shopper with Instacart in July of 2014 to help him do just that. “Instacart has been a savior in many respects,” he says, noting this is the first time he’s worked as an independent contractor. And he is loving it. He chooses his own hours and always has flexibility if an important meeting comes up. He says the Instacart team always tries to fit work around his life and other commitments. “It’s such a cool company.”

A lot of songwriting is about empathy, feeling what other people go through, and transferring those experiences into music. Raymond’s found that as a Personal Shopper, he’s able to connect with so many people he wouldn’t have otherwise. One customer to whom he’s delivered groceries is homebound and couldn’t shop if she wanted to. Helping her is something that inspires Raymond’s creative spirit but more importantly, inspires his heart: he is truly enabling another human to live their life.

“To know that you’re shopping for someone and helping someone that can’t go out into the world, and you’re bringing what they need to them — it’s a serviceable thing,” he says. “That’s the key: keep busy with things that are serviceable and helps others. Instacart serves that purpose in so many ways.”

Raymond’s young company also coaches up-and-coming singers. Even as the salutatorian of his high school in Washington D.C., Raymond didn’t have many mentors or people opening doors for him when he was trying to make it in showbiz in New York and LA. So he feels like he needs to lend a hand to today’s young singers.

“It’s important to me to feel like I’m giving back, because I’ve had these incredible opportunities,” he says.

Learn more about becoming a shopper at Instacart.

Instacart Takes Off In Indianapolis, IN

We are excited to announce the launch of Instacart’s on-demand grocery delivery service in Indianapolis, our 17th market!

Starting today, customers in Indianapolis can order groceries and other items from their neighborhood Whole Foods Market, Marsh Supermarkets, Georgetown Market, Costco and Petco stores and have them delivered straight to their door in as little as one hour.

There were many factors that made Indianapolis a great place for us to bring our service.

First and foremost, it’s about our customers. We saw a tremendous number of requests from the Indianapolis community to bring Instacart to their hometown. From the influx of young people who are staying and working in the city, to the families and seniors who need more flexible shopping options, Instacart is uniquely positioned to help meet the growing customer demand for convenient, speedy, and quality grocery delivery.

In addition to the outpouring of customer support, we also saw very high interest from grocery stores in the city–from our national retail partners to our new local partners, Marsh Supermarkets and Georgetown Market. By partnering with both local and national grocers, Instacart’s shopping model helps expand their reach to even more Indianapolis residents.

As our launch here in Indianapolis demonstrates, Instacart can be a part of the solution for cities of all sizes across the country when it comes to expanding access to convenient and affordable grocery options for their communities–and we are thrilled to be here in such a great city!

— Apoorva Mehta, Founder & CEO at Instacart

The craze is real! Catch Hatch Chiles before they’re gone!

For one short time every year, the mouthwateringly delicious but rare chiles from Hatch, New Mexico are only in season… and that time is NOW! Today we’re sharing our favorite Hatch Chile recipes and tips for making the most of these delicious peppers.

What makes a Hatch Chile so special? The intense climate of New Mexico with its hot days and cold nights makes this a one-of-a-kind veggie with a uniquely robust and meaty flavor. Once you taste an authentic fire-roasted Hatch Chile, you’ll never look back! We’ve heard of people stocking up on 10, 20, even 50 pound bags of Hatch Chiles to stockpile these delicious peppers and take advantage of them before they’re gone.

If you’re going to be cooking with Hatch Chiles, here’s what you need to know to pick the best ones:

Shopping for Hatch Chiles:

For Fresh: When selecting fresh Hatch Chiles, look for glossy green peppers with firm to medium-thick texture, and no soft spots.

For Pre-Roasted: If you buy roasted chiles, the chiles will need to be peeled/stemmed/seeded by you!

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via Paul Gibson on Flickr

Of course, if you’re shopping on Instacart you can leave the produce picking to our expert shoppers, and sit back and relax while getting Hatch Chiles delivered straight to your doorstep.

Cooking your Hatch Chiles:

If you’ll be roasting Hatch Chiles yourself, get a guide on how to roast Hatch Chiles so you do it right! Roasting the chiles and freezing them is a great way to make them last throughout the year and enjoy Hatch Chiles until next August.

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via Krissa Corbett Cavouras on Flickr

Too hot to roast chiles in your oven? Try these alternative methods by The Kitchn to cook your Hatch Chiles before freezing:

Outdoor grill: Roast chiles directly on the grill, watching them closely and turning over as needed.

Electric or gas burner: Cover the burner with wire mesh and roast chiles on top, turning over as needed.

Cast iron skillet: Roast chiles in a skillet over medium-high heat, turning over as needed.

Open flame: Holding a chile pepper with tongs, carefully char it over an open gas flame or using a culinary torch.

Hatch Chile Recipes:

We’ve asked some of our partnered grocery stores to share their Hatch Chile recipes, and believe us — they look GOOD! Click the links below to check them out, and then order Hatch Chiles AND all the recipe ingredients for dinner tonight…

Roasted Hatch Chile Mac & Cheese by Mollie Stone’s Markets

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Breakfast Strata with Hatch Chiles and Sausage by Whole Foods Market

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Red Hatch Chile Sauce by Fresh & Easy

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New Mexico Hatch Chile Pork Tostada by Bi-Rite Market

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Don’t wait until the season is over — Hatch Chiles are going to be out of your local grocery stores before you know it! Which recipe will you be making for dinner tonight?

 

Top image c/o The Turquoise Table on Flickr

Instacart shopper schedules help make room for art, family and work

One of the great keys for success as an artist is keeping it fresh. Whether painting, music, poetry or anything in between, artists constantly labor to devise new ideas for their work while improving on the existing.

Maggie C. is a silversmith in Boulder, Colorado. She spends up to 40 hours each week in her small studio making beautiful charms, bracelets and necklaces, which she sells on Etsy and her own website. But making jewelry, like any artform, requires an artist to keep pace with changing tastes and trends. Thinking through original concepts takes space and time — and often artists don’t have the financial means to set aside that breathing room.

“Instacart frees me up to be more creative. I’m able to be riskier or more thoughtful with my work,” Maggie says. “Sometimes when I’m doing stuff over and over again, I feel like a machine. But when you’re not worried about money, you can do more.”

Maggie started working with Instacart in August of 2014. Previously she’d worked in the restaurant business, even owning a little coffee shop in Aspen with her husband. But when she went back to school for web design and e-commerce and took some silversmithing classes on the side, she knew she’d found her true calling.

Like drawing, painting or sculpture, metalwork is a field of artistry where supplies don’t come cheap. Maggie’s jewelry not only includes silver but precious stones, pearls and crystals. Experimentation can be an expensive affair, not to mention she endures the cost of replacing tools or trying new techniques.

With the help of the money she earns through Instacart, “I can really help concentrate on developing a line,” she says.

Retail is also extremely seasonal. Following the winter holidays most creators see a sharp drop in sales. “It gets really quiet,” Maggie says. So when business slowed this past year Maggie was able to increase the amount of time she spent working as a Personal Shopper, and know she could easily step it back down when she wanted to spend more time in the studio. “Instacart has been really steady, something I can count on. It’s just given me a really good income on a regular basis,” she says.

Now she and her husband, a video engineer, are working to put their second son through college. Their youngest son will be graduating high school soon. And Maggie’s oldest has since moved to Oklahoma. Two years ago Maggie became a grandma and just recently found out her granddaughter will soon have a sibling.

So the importance of being able to travel and visit her growing family has skyrocketed. She loves that her work with Instacart provides her with the flexibility to leave town whenever she wants and then come back and pick up right where she left off. “I wouldn’t have been able to do that otherwise,” she said.

“I always had the flexibility, but I wouldn’t have had the money.”

 

Learn more about becoming a shopper at Instacart.

Maximizing family time and income: one Instacart Shopper’s story

If you catch Jazmin S.’s voicemail you will hear one of the most adorable young voices–her five-year-old daughter, asking you to leave a message for her mom and then about five seconds of pure, heart-warming giggling.

Jazmin is a single mom and nothing is more important to her than her children. She, her daughter and her five-month-old son live in Pilsen on the lower west side of Chicago, where Jazmin grew up. The kids’ father lives in the area, but Jazmin also relies on her large extended family to care for them. Jazmin’s grandmother, who emigrated from Mexico, has lived in the same house for over sixty years; four of her six children still live within walking distance. The other two, including Jazmin’s mom, aren’t much farther away.

“I’m very family oriented,” Jazmin says.

Like many of us, Jazmin is also answering the question of what she wants to do with her own career. She’s worked office jobs, retail jobs, as a party planner and holds both a real estate and bartending license. “I worked a lot and the pay wasn’t great,” she says. “I felt like I was taking a lot of time to be away from my kids.”

Now Jazmin works with Instacart as a Personal Shopper at the Costco just to the north of Pilsen. Being able to schedule when exactly she works allows her to both maximize income and family time. “The convenience works really well,” she says.

Jazmin first started working with Instacart in December 2013 but then took a year off to have her son. When she wanted to come back, she says Instacart welcomed her with open arms. “I really appreciated that,” she says. One of the key benefits while raising her infant has been that the flexibility allows her to continue breastfeeding. “I don’t have to put him on formula,” she says happily.

And the fact that the dynamics of her house are changing makes that flexibility even more important: her daughter just graduated from kindergarten, started playing basketball and will soon start at a summer camp focused on math and science. Jazmin realizes she’s embarking on the, let’s say, “chauffeur phase” of parenting, so being able to schedule work around her family commitments will be critical.

That flexibility has also allowed more quality time with the extended family. “It’s always someone’s birthday or a party,” she laughs. Jazmin sometimes works for a few hours, knocks off to attend a family gathering and then gets back to work.

“I never really had to check in with anybody to say I was leaving,” she says.

She’s also built a community with Instacart shoppers as well. Eight of her friends, including her best friend, work with Instacart. Often when she talks with people that are considering working with Instacart, they’re confused about how the scheduling and logistics work. So Jazmin explains how shoppers make their own schedule, how she’s now able to pay her bills with the money she earns through Instacart — and most importantly, how she’s able to maximize time with her children.
“It’s very simple,” she says.

 

Learn more about becoming a shopper at Instacart.

How Instacart shoppers are achieving big dreams on a flexible schedule

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Chicago actor Greg F. is one of the more friendly people you’ll ever meet. And he’s got the award to prove it. In 2012 he not only won Chicago’s Bellstaff of the Year award, handed out by the local hospitality industry to the most helpful and outgoing front lobby staffer at the area’s hotels, but went on to win Bellstaff of the Year for the entire state of Illinois.

“I was pretty grateful for that,” he says.

Hotel work paid Greg’s bills for a while, as he built his acting career. He’d fit rehearsals and auditions in between shifts scheduled by his bosses the best he could, attempting that rigorous balance between hospitality work and making a dream come true. “Everyone always hears you have to have that day job,” Greg says of being an actor. “It was sort of set in stone.” Most of his shifts ran from 7am to 3pm and often that meant missing or being late to something important like a rehearsal.

In the last few years Greg’s career has grown wings. He’s played parts in big productions like The Full Monty, Floyd Collins, Spamalot, How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying and Assassins. Not only that, but in 2013 he was nominated for his first Jeff Award, the Chicago equivalent of a Tony, as a supporting actor. He’s been nominated for two more since. His acting career was coming together but, in order to continue making progress, Greg found that he needed more autonomy and flexibility than his “day job” allowed.

So in July of 2014 Greg left the hospitality industry and started to work with Instacart as a Personal Shopper. Now he does not have to work consistent weekly shifts — and that’s been just perfect for Greg. Sometimes he works a lot; sometimes he works only a few hours. “My availability changes every week in terms of rehearsals and auditions,” he says. “And I can accommodate that.” Around the Chicago acting scene, the launching points for show biz greats like Stephen Colbert and Oprah Winfrey, Greg says he’s not alone either. “A lot of my acting buddies are doing the same.”

Greg describes his approach to taking Instacart orders like a game. One of his favorite challenges: Sometimes a store won’t have the exact item a customer wants and there are a few alternatives with different pros and cons. Greg enjoys the exercise of figuring out how to describe the quandary. It develops his communication skills, he says, to express something very clearly. “It’s a matter of thinking on your feet,” he says.

Greg says he’s gotten to know a few customers, often chatting with them about his upcoming performance, and he has been flattered when they’ve personally requested he fill their next order. Customers live across Chicago and so Greg has also been learning the nooks and crannies of his very big city. “I definitely see areas of Chicago I’ve never seen before.”

Greg says that he enjoys being a Shopper. “It’s never boring,” he says.

 

Learn more about becoming a shopper at Instacart.

You Can Shop From Beloved New York Breads on Instacart

Sweet news coming out of NYC today! We’ve partnered with one of New York’s favorite bakeries, Breads Bakery. Lower Manhatttan customers can get delicious freshly baked goods like Breads Bakery’s signature chocolate babka, challah, rugelach, croissants and cheese straws delivered to Lower Manhattan within two hours.

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“We are thrilled to partner with Instacart as they’ve proven to be a trusted name in grocery delivery,” said Breads Bakery partner Gadi Peleg. “Our guests have grown to love the treats we bake fresh all day, every day. Now, they can get these items delivered right to their doorstep with Instacart. We believe that our partnership will allow us to reach even more customers who may not be able to make it into our bakery each week.”

Instacart customers in Lower Manhattan can also order from Whole Foods Market, Costco and Fairway and have items from all four of these stores delivered to their home or office on the same day.