A Chat with Peter Dakin and Nick O’Quinn, Co-Founders at Independent Brand Marketplace: Hibana

Hibana is a new story-led marketplace where shoppers can discover and support the UK’s most innovative independent brands. Our aim is to create the spark between brands with inspiring stories to tell with like-minded conscious shoppers, who want more from their purchases.

Right now, we currently host over 75 UK brands, all of which have passionate people at their core, authenticity at their heart, and stories to shine a light on.

We really see Hibana as more than just a place to buy beautiful things. Our whole ethos is based around challenging the existing structure of online shopping with an experience that replicates the intimacy and joy of discovery that is created when shopping in real life.

For us the way to make this a reality was simple – we carefully curate the UK’s most inspiring independent brands, and make sure we have an eclectic mix too – everything from homeware to sustainable swimwear, all homed under one Hibana roof.


How did you come up with the idea for the company?

Hibana was created by myself, Peter Dakin, and my friend Nick O’Quinn, during the 2020 lockdown. 2020 was crazy for many reasons, one of them being that suddenly the world was denied the possibility of shopping in real life, and thrust into reality a reliance on online shopping. Nick and I quickly realised that while convenient, online shopping was dull, and lacking in real joy or inspiration. But not just this, smaller independent brands were getting lost in the shadows.

So, this spurred the idea of creating a digital space for these brands to share but making this more than just a retail platform.

The idea of Hibana is based around changing the way people engage in online shopping, from being a transactional activity to something that is led by stories and content – creating a place where commerce, content, and community come together.

This in turn incorporates a vitally important sustainability element too – as consumers make meaningful purchases with longevity, rather than a constant cycle of quick buys that quickly become throwaway items.

We want shopping on Hibana to replicate the joy of stumbling on things you love that you didn’t even know you were looking for. Those kinds of purchases are more than just a ‘product’; they are possessions that invite compliments from your friends and allow you the joy of telling the interesting story behind their creation.


How has the company evolved during the pandemic?

As a business that started during the pandemic, from the beginning we have had to be flexible to evolve and grow.

In fact, the pandemic was actually the catalyst for not only starting the business but inspiring the idea itself. Independent businesses needed more support than ever before – but in the big wide web of the internet, smaller brands were overshadowed by the big retailers.

We found ourselves reminiscing about shopping in real life as if it was a forgotten pastime – craving the experience of wandering down a high street filled with beautiful shops and the joy of discovering unique products with stories behind them.

So that’s what we set out to recreate. Injecting a spark into the existing structure of online shopping by building a platform to replicate the intimacy and joy you feel from shopping in real life.

Most recently we’ve been evolving to build our community aspect. For us, this isn’t just about building an online shop – this is about building a community of brands from around the UK, with hopes to also build more globally.

What can we hope to see from Hibana in the future?

This is really just the beginning of the Hibana journey. The first step was launching.

For us, one of the most important aspects of Hibana is the discovery piece. Our plans for growth will always be centred on how we can use technology to make Hibana the most engaging and enjoyable browsing experience possible, so shoppers can discover inspiring and independent brands that they want to tell their friends about.

Of course, this means one aspect of growth is continuing to find brand stories for the marketplace, and provide such brands with the space to expand digitally. We’re constantly adding new, purposeful brands to the site, and plan to continue this expansion across categories, from intriguing homewares, to sustainable self-care and innovative food and drinks producers.

Just this week we dropped six new brands on Hibana. These cover everything from Pantee: a sustainable and ethical underwear brand tackling fashion waste, to Millican: a sustainable travel bags brand, inspired by Millican Dalton, a maverick from the 1900s who travelled to the Lake District to live at one with nature.

We’re fully committed to ensuring Hibana is an ever-evolving digital world, much like a real high street where shops pop up out of the blue and you spend hours discovering hidden gems.