Brand Transparency: An Interview With Provenance Founder Jessi Baker

These days many consumers want more information about the brands they consider supporting.

jessi baker

An ingredient list or short blurb on a home page just isn’t enough anymore. There is still a lack of transparency when it comes to how most companies operate.

With these issues in mind, Jessi Baker created Provenance, a platform that helps brands walk the walk when they talk about transparency. To discover companies that align with their values, users can filter searches with a combination of product categories and ethical priorities such as environmental impact and animal welfare.

Before becoming an entrepreneur, Baker earned a Masters in Engineering from Cambridge University and another in design from the Royal College of Art. She also worked on technology and design projects with huge brands such as Adidas and Louis Vuitton.

To learn more about Provenance and its role in helping conscientious consumers, we asked Baker a few questions. Here’s what she had to say:

Public Goods: What exactly is Provenance? How does it work?

Jessi Baker: Provenance is a platform that empowers brands to take steps toward greater transparency. Enabled by blockchain, mobile and open data, our software gathers and shares key product information and stories in a way that’s secure, trustworthy and accessible — bringing the supply chain to the shopper, online and in store.

By connecting this information to things — in store, on pack and online — we can all discover the origin, journey and impact of our products to enable more positive, purposeful purchases.

PG: Tell us a bit about your background. What led you to found Provenance?

JB: Provenance was born out of a personal frustration about the lack of information available about the things we buy. I’ve grown up trying to buy local products that were good for the planet. A love for tech led me to question whether it could enable a more transparent future for businesses — making conscious consumption mainstream.

Provenance started as a side project while I was doing a Ph.D. in Computer Science in 2013. In 2016 I decided to focus on Provenance full time. I have a background in both design and technology, with a Masters in Engineering from Cambridge University and Design from the Royal College of Art. Before founding Provenance, I worked on technology and digital design strategy with brands such as Adidas, The Four Seasons, Will.I.Am, British Airways and Louis Vuitton.

PG: How has Provenance made an impact on the consumer and brand landscape?

JB: Today more than 300 businesses, like Grassroots Farmers’ Cooperative, Caravela Coffee, Nomad Tribe and Iconic, are using the Provenance platform. We are working with select partners on significant pilot projects to test and scale the applications of our technology, like Unilever and Sainsbury’s (a large UK grocer).

For example, Fuchsia Shoes works closely with artisan workshops in Pakistan to ensure fair working conditions that support the local community. The Provenance platform simplified the process for Fuchsia to create and share their social impact story with shoppers by integrating it on their e-commerce pages. In the six months since launching with Provenance, Fuchsia experienced a 31% increase in sales conversion. With each sale of Fuchsia shoes, the more empowered, fairly-paid workers in Pakistan become.

PG: What advice do you have for consumers who are trying to be more conscientious and sustainable?

JB: Look for brands that support their marketing claims with evidence and transparency. Look for brands that respond openly to questions from customers and make efforts to highlight their shortcomings, too. No brand is perfect, and vulnerability is part of the journey.

Don’t forget how powerful you are. My advice would be to ask businesses to be more transparent on the things you care about. Don’t take for granted the votes we make every day with our wallets. We live in the world we buy into. Together we can enable every purchase to have a positive impact on your health, the planet and communities near and far.

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