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In conversation with Jessi Baker, CEO of @provenancehq

Designer, technologist and entrepreneur, Jessi Baker is the founder and CEO of Provenance, a leading software solution in sustainability marketing technology. Provenance enables brands to build trust with their audience through impact transparency.

We spoke to Jessi about her thoughts on sustainability in the beauty industry, innovation and what's unseen that she'd like to see. 

Q: You have over 15 years of experience working in design, development and tech, in your opinion, what is the biggest blockage to sustainability in the beauty industry? 

Jessi: I think the problems are systemic. We buy too much stuff, and the stuff we do buy isn’t having a good impact on the environment, animals or people. Our mantra at Provenance is “buy less, buy better”, we see our role as tackling one of the major systemic hurdles in “buying better”, which is transparency. Today it’s hard to find out what a brand or product is doing when in comes to impact on people and the planet – and even when you can find info it’s not presented in a consistent, credible way. It’s too hard to make a good choice, even if you really want to. So this is where I have focused my energy! 

Q: Provenance will be 10 years old next year, congratulations! Can you tell us what inspired you to found it? 

Jessi: Yes! I started Provenance initially as a side project to a PhD in Computer Science but it soon took over as my day job! Provenance came about because of my personal frustrations as a shopper – I wanted to make purchases that benefited people and the planet, but I couldn't find information that I could trust about the impact of products. Particularly shopping online - where that should be easy to find! Our technology is solving this problem, and helping shoppers make informed decisions about what they choose to buy at the point of sale.

Q: What change do you hope to create through Provenance? 

Jessi: Provenance is empowering beauty shoppers to make informed buying decisions that positively impact both people and planet. To achieve this, we’re using technology to enable brands and retailers to surface proof-backed sustainability claims, “Proof Points”, at the point of sale. By increasing shopper engagement and e-commerce conversion for products with Proof Points, we’re growing market share for brands that are making a positive social and environmental impact.

We're focused on delivering impact at scale across the beauty and wellness industry. Now, more than ever, we need industry players to come together to address the big challenges posed by the UN Sustainable Development Goals (“SDGs”), with the 2030 target horizon rapidly approaching. We believe that by working closely with both retailers and brands, we can scale our technology quickly and help the industry educate consumers, shifting buying behaviours towards supporting more sustainable products, rewarding brands that are making a difference, and ultimately being a catalyst for positive systemic change. 

We’re excited to play our part in this by establishing a consistent, unified and credible industry-wide approach to sustainability marketing; one that combats greenwashing head-on and delivers efficiency gains to brands looking to showcase their good work in multiple e-commerce environments.

Q: Do you think innovation is needed in the beauty industry to create more sustainable products and packaging? 

Jessi: When it comes to reducing carbon emissions, packaging is a key lever at businesses’ disposal, not least because it’s an area where many brands still have direct control. By using recycled materials in their packaging, as well as simply minimising packaging, brands can cut emissions by using less energy in manufacturing. 

Plenaire has reduced its emissions in part by designing their packs to be compact, as well as eliminating liners where possible to limit emissions in delivery. Their shipper materials, cartons, liners and board are also fully recyclable. 

Q: What's one thing that's unseen that you'd like to see?

Jessi: The impact of products at the point of sale in a consistent, credible way! We’re working on it!

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