Hibana – Co-founders Peter Dakin and Nick O’Quinn’s story
As told to Miranda Wilkinson
A year after the nation was thrust into lockdown — where high streets closed, small businesses suffered, and people were suddenly denied the simple pleasures of ‘popping to the shops’ — we launched Hibana as a result of becoming completely disillusioned with the online retail space.
The last year has seen a lot of change. Yet one thing that didn’t change was our ability to buy things. Online shopping became a comforting crutch of normality to get us through the hard times of lockdown, as we all became increasingly reliant on the convenience of being able to buy anything from the comfort of our sofa. We realised that while it was convenient, it was also completely soulless – dominated by large corporate giants, overwhelming you with thousands of products. It proved difficult to stumble on the smaller independent brands we knew were out there, and crucially, we missed the joys of discovering, browsing and shopping in real life.
We decided to do something about it. To create an online marketplace with a difference. One that puts British independent brands at the forefront, that champions purpose-led businesses, and that use stories to deliver a more inspiring and intimate online shopping experience. So we created Hibana.
Hibana is an online retail experience that takes the effortless convenience of being able to browse and shop multiple products, categories and brands all in one place, and aims to inject that experience with as much colour, spark and excitement as shopping offline. A place for conscious and curious shoppers to discover inspiring and innovative independent brands.
These brands that we have carefully curated all have inspiring stories and put purpose at the very core of what they do. From Huit Denim Co. whose mission it was to revive denim craftsmanship and bring jeans manufacturing back to the small Welsh town of Cardigan, to Two Drifters Rum, the world’s first carbon-negative rum distillery, to NewGround coffee who employ and train ex-offenders. Every Hibana partner’s story is unique – but as a collective, they all have a vision for a better world.
What sparked our reasoning for change? Being consumers ourselves, we were just dissatisfied with our own experience – and felt there was an opportunity to not only create a better shopping experience for people, but also for the world. Having been friends for years, we had enjoyed many conversations over a beer about our shared desire to start a business that could make a positive impact on the world we live in. With our entrepreneurial, creative and strategist backgrounds combined, all it took was a global pandemic – where our plans had completely changed, and life was put on pause – for those numerous conversations to become a reality.
It’s been a roller coaster of a year, but we’re firm believers of making the most out of a bad situation. We may not have been working as front-line key workers or contributed to the development of a vaccine, but with our dedication to support and showcase smaller, purpose-led independent brands across the UK, Hibana is our small attempt to make the experience of online shopping a more positive one.