When Chris Chapman helped set up a small experimental music festival called Open Ear, little did he realise that frequent visits to West Cork would ultimately inspire him to start a new business around food. In January he launched Weekl.ie, a new home delivery service putting producers, growers and farmers directly in contact with customers in their homes.
“Our ethos is that we want to be as sustainable as we can be. We measure everything we do against that value and see where we can make a difference.”
“The idea was really about helping people who liked food and cooking in a very hands-on way. West Cork has great food across many different peninsulas, but I realised that in places like Dublin city centre, many people are so time poor that you could really help by offering a service that gives them direct access to great ingredients.”
Then COVID-19 happened. “March was like going to a university for this start up”, says Chapman. “We got four years of training in three months. We managed to set up very quickly with key suppliers, producers and growers, whereas under normal circumstances, it might have taken a couple years to come to those relationships.”
He goes on to explain that sustainability is central to everything that Weekl.ie does, whether it’s sourcing meat from an organic beef farmer or fish from boats working through Sustainable Seafood Ireland.
“Our ethos is that we want to be as sustainable as we can be. We measure everything we do against that value and see where we can make a difference.” New technology and innovations are constantly reviewed to see how they can help support this.
“We use electric bikes for local transport, and a van for other deliveries. We’re aware of businesses in the Netherlands using different sizes of electric car for deliveries which are very environmentally friendly, and hopefully we’ll get to that place.”
Chapman also works with Rory Craig of Station to Station Wine who supplies a small selection of artisanal wines to complement weekly customer choices. On the packaging side too he says; “We have some cool suppliers. Green Beards Juices, Clement & Pekoe Kombucha and Open Hive Honey all take back their bottles and reuse them. It’s a nice thing we can do with the subscription and delivery model for Weekl.ie.”
The weekly subscription service also includes free knife sharpening, unusual enough in Dublin these days. “There’s a factory set angle on every knife, so we’re able to measure it and put that angle back onto it, like new. It just makes cooking so much more enjoyable when you have a good knife to work with.”
Future plans include hiring out unusual kitchen tools, the kind that people might only ever use once in their lives, and building up a decent bank of information on their website. “For us it’s about giving great produce enough room to breathe and have value for every individual piece”, Chapman concludes, “We’re just at the start of it.”