Marisa Leaf’s online delivery service, which aims to save the high street’s independent shops, has opened its doors to West London. Learn how you can now order from your local boutiques and have their products delivered straight to your door
The last three years have been a joyous time for Hubbub founder and co-CEO Marisa Leaf. After settling in Kensal Rise with her boyfriend (now husband), she has watched her online home delivery service flourish across the capital’s neighbourhoods, embraced by local producers and customers alike. There’s been just one niggling personal nuisance, however. ‘I was so frustrated that I couldn’t even get a delivery from my own business until recently,’ she admits. Hubbub’s launch in West London has not only been a business goal but ‘on my wish-list for quite a long time’.
And not just hers: it’s been a personal crusade of many West Londoners – hundreds in fact, as Marisa tells me – so much so that ‘we’ve had a lot of the customers go out there and do the pitching for us,’ she says, without any hint of irony. Such endorsements for businesses are rare – why are people so passionate about this product?
Launched in 2008 by the former human rights lawyer, Hubbub was borne from Marisa’s dissatisfaction of trying to balance a busy professional life with a desire to eat well and shop locally: a compromised, often frazzled, state of existence shared by many of us. Her revolutionary idea was thus: to create a service that enables customers to order food online from a range of local shops and to have it delivered to them at home in one convenient order. Shoppers are given access to the day-caught fish from the local fishmonger, the freshly baked artisan bread and the butcher’s latest cut – all without leaving home. The service costs £3.50, but the first order and subsequent ones over £75 are free. Customers are commonly time-poor: half have young families and many are busy professionals.
Having started with £10,000 and two stores, Marisa’s pilot in Islington has grown to nearly 60 suppliers and ‘a good chunk of London’, now including Notting Hill, Kensal Rise, Queen’s Park and Westbourne Grove.
Everywhere the service goes, success follows. ‘We don’t just have the best shops, but the best customers; the kind of feedback that we get is just extraordinary,’ Marisa says. ‘People spontaneously send us photos of the food that they’ve made.’ Really, I say incredulously. ‘All the time,’ is her emphatic response, ‘and they ask us to put credit vouchers on our drivers’ accounts because they are so lovely.The service makes it easy for people to eat well and feed their families with the best quality, most nutritious food, but it’s just as easy as using Ocado.’
Not only does Hubbub support local shops by introducing customers who wouldn’t otherwise shop there, it’s also encouraging more footfall into stores and the opportunity to discover new local businesses online. When Marisa goes to pitch to new places, she finds ‘you often get a massive hug and a kiss on both cheeks,’ because the owners already know of the business potential that the partnership can bring. ‘I’ve done all kinds of jobs before but it’s really striking how open people are to the idea and how much they want it,’ she says.
Surprisingly, Marisa compares her life as an entrepreneur to that of a barrister. ‘Dealing with a judge, solicitor or client is not that different to pitching to a shop, client or an investor. You’re making a case, you’re standing up for something you believe in, you’re dealing with people.’ Marisa’s ethos is benefiting our lives and our communities – the human rights lawyer spirit is still very much alive.
Words by Kat Hopps
See more at hubbub.co.uk
Hubbub’s core producers deal with meat, fish, fruit, vegetables and wine, but there are also speciality and natural food stores. Here are six local names already signed up…
1 Borough Wines, Kensal Rise
From humble beginnings at Borough Market, this business has grown to six shops and is known for the fill-your-own bottle of wine from the barrel scheme.
2 Raoul’s Deli, Maida Vale
Raoul’s flagship restaurant opened in 1985 and has been serving a selection of Italian hams, continental cheeses and fresh sauces since then.
3 Provenance Village Butcher, Notting Hill
Run by husband and wife team, Guy and Erin, this well-loved butcher works with UK trusted suppliers.
4 The Spice Shop, Notting Hill
Offering over 2,500 herbs and spices, this is the only shop of its kind in the UK.
5 George’s Fisheries, Notting Hill
A family-run deli and food store with 40 years of experience in sustainable seafood.
6 Biscuiteers, Notting Hill
Fall in love with the handmade, iced biscuits decorated with pretty designs.