There’s no Amazon same-day delivery service for people living on the remote islands of French Polynesia, so locals launched their own e-commerce business and courier service to fill the gap.

HM Coursier Express initially delivered anywhere: within Tahiti, to other islands, and also abroad. In the first year, Henriou built up a client base of Tahitians in France, including many serving in the military. They wanted products from home: Arnott’s Sao crackers, canned corned beef, and clothing from Tahitian brands like Hinano and Enjoy Life. Henriou soon realized, however, that sending abroad wasn’t sustainable; the shipping often cost much more than the products themselves, and the fee that HM Coursier Express charged barely covered his overheads.

Cheri has been an editor at Longreads since 2014. She's currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area.