When Belfast couple Lydia Hodgins and Justin Thompson dreamt of starting their own food delivery business, they never imagined it would be in the middle of a worldwide pandemic.
The pair had been planning the launch of LocalBoxNI for months when the lockdown hit, creating a surge in demand for food delivery services.
“Here we were living together, working together and trying to start a business together in the midst of this huge crisis. It was such a scary time but we felt that people really wanted and needed good, healthy food and it was increasingly difficult to get out to buy it. So we made the leap and our first deliveries went out on April 25th,” Lydia said.
LocalBoxNI is a home delivery food service bringing the best locally made products to homes in Belfast. The idea started when the foodie pair found they were spending increasing amounts of time going from farm shop to market buying fresh, local products.
“Northern Ireland has such amazing food and we felt it was really important to support local businesses but we didn’t have the time to get around all these wonderful places to get the food we cared about. We wished there was a service that would just deliver it all to our door so we didn’t have to spend all day Saturday going out to buy it. So we decided to start the business bringing the food we love to other people,” she said.
Justin, a full-time software engineer at a tech start up, was able to build the website and the pair personally sourced suppliers across Northern Ireland. Customers can order products like homemade sourdough bread, Abernethy butter, Belfast Coffee Roasters coffee, Fermanagh free range eggs, charcuterie and chorizo from Limavady, bacon from Omagh, locally produced cheeses and Rathlin kelp pesto to name just some of the products.
“Our aim was to reduce the environmental impact of our purchases and to support the local economy. At the moment we take orders all week then deliver across Belfast on a Saturday as soon as the fresh bread arrives with us. Because we only order what we need from our suppliers, there’s no food waste,” Lydia explained.
All the delivery boxes are collected, cleaned and sanitised and reused adding to the company’s sustainable ethos. Their unique take on local food and sustainability helped them to become finalists in the Belfast Business Ideas Awards run by Belfast City Council.
The couple pack and personally deliver all the boxes themselves on a Saturday morning to homes in Belfast. “We’ve been overwhelmed by the positive reaction when we arrive with a delivery and we’re just so thankful that we can share our love of local food with others,” she said.
For more information go to localboxni.com.