A NEW online store has been set up in response to the Covid-19 pandemic to support small independent businesses and artisans.

Chippa Nation is a marketplace selling fashion, gifts, books and eco-household products after initially being launched to help people access essential items during the early days of the lockdown.

The e-commerce company, set up by chef-turned-entrepreneur Tara Smith of Hay-on-Wye, is now stocking products from British independent makers and businesses, while focusing on sustainability and social responsibility.

She said: “I started Chippa Nation to provide an alternative retail source for rural and isolated communities after supermarket shelves were emptied by stockpiling just as the nation went into lockdown.

“I was shocked that some people in my rural community couldn’t find affordable essential items like baby wipes and cleaning products, and I was worried for those with limited support networks.

“Then, after the initial panic about the pandemic eased, I realised this was an opportunity to work with fellow small businesses by creating a responsible online marketplace that participates in a circular economy, which is something I strongly believe in.”

All businesses were affected in some way by the lockdown, and the Hereford Times has been doing its bit to support the county’s firms.

With our Love Local Business campaign, we’ve been championing independent businesses and have offered free shout-outs as they get back on their feet.

Tara runs Chippa Nation from her home in Hay-on-Wye alongside working as a freelance chef and at a deli. The mother-of-one has lived in Herefordshire for five years but grew up in Cumbria.

She says she has an appreciation for nature and preserving the environment through sustainable practices, which is reflected in her approach to running Chippa Nation.

Tara added she wants to “play a conscious part in helping to create a supportive business community”.