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What is Provenance?

Transparency & credibility with Provenance founder, Jessi Baker

Our partnership with tech solution Provenance marks a significant turning point in our commitment to both our community and the planet. In a bid to turn the tide on ‘greenwashing’ jargon, Provenance are helping us provide a more transparent shopping experience for our customers. We spoke to founder Jessi to get the lowdown.

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How does Provenance work and how would you describe its impact?

Provenance powers proof backed sustainability communications. We use technology to connect what brands say about their impact on people and planet to real evidence from their supply chain and third-party verification. We also help brands make claims in clear-shopper friendly language; each of the 50+ claims in the Provenance Framework is designed to be as jargon-free as possible, so that shoppers can better understand the impact of their purchases.

As citizens today, we’re massively disconnected from the reality of how our products are made, and when brands do make claims about sourcing and impact, it can be hard to separate fact from fiction. But by surfacing evidence and enabling greater brand transparency, Provenance is empowering shoppers to drive progress through what they buy.

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What are the benefits of a software solution like Provenance for customers?

I believe our software is helping customers shop in line with their values. There are three ways we do this. Firstly, our tech enables shoppers to see evidence and verification by clicking through claims or scanning a QR code, which means they can trust the integrity of each claim. Secondly, our tech helps shoppers better understand what certifications mean. In reality, few people could confidently explain exactly what’s meant by ‘Cosmos Standard Organic’ or ‘Climate Neutral’. But by clicking on Provenance-powered Proof Points, shoppers can learn about the standards involved in third-party certifications. And finally, we offer consistency for shoppers. When you see a claim that’s 'Powered by Provenance', you can be confident it means the same thing whether you’re buying clothes or cosmetics, food or drinks.

What do you think is the most exciting thing happening in this space at the moment?

The demand from citizens - be it shoppers, employees or shareholders - for companies to prioritise sustainability (or ESG as many in finance label it) has been moving to be part of over the past 18 months. Over the pandemic it rightly moved from a niche to a mainstream imperative. However, I still believe we have a huge step change to take to stop climate change and social injustice, which is why I am excited about cryptocurrency and its ability to incentivise networks to change behaviour. I believe it's possible to use it to almost rewire capitalism – we’re at the very beginning of what this technology can do and we are excited for tech to empower positive change in a grassroots way at massive scale.

‘Greenwashing’ is something we’re seeing a lot of discussion around lately, would you say Provenance is providing a solution to this?

We’re certainly seeing a growing backlash against greenwashing, and if you consider reports that 40% of environmental claims have been deemed misleading, it’s hardly surprising. Shoppers are losing patience, and there are a number of brands who will need to step up their game in this area to stay relevant.

At Provenance, greenwashing is the problem we’re entirely focused on solving. I believe that we can do so by powering accessible, trustworthy information about a product’s origin and its impact on people and planet.

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How would you describe the significance of your expansion into the beauty industry? What do you imagine the impact of this will be?

I believe that as more and more beauty brands and retailers work with us, we have an incredible opportunity to help shoppers drive positive change at scale, in an industry that has a fairly terrifying impact on people and the planet. Every year, the beauty industry produces more than 120 billion units of packaging globally (according to Zero Waste Week data) and its also responsible for a staggering 14,000 tons of sunscreen that collect every year in the world’s reefs (British Beauty Council).

How do you think the mission objective of Provenance most significantly aligns with the ethos of a business like Naturisimo?

Naturisimo is a very natural partner for Provenance in many ways. Responsible sourcing is a key part of the ethos and that’s clearly reflected in the type of brands on the platform. As a retailer, Naturisimo is driven to empower its customers to make sustainable choices, and by powering trustworthy, proof-backed sustainability claims, I think Provenance really acts as an extension of that aim.

What do you think the future holds for Provenance? What comes next?

We’re seeing a really exciting network effect taking place in the beauty industry at the moment – we’re now working with over 100 brands in the space. What’s really exciting about that is that I believe we’re moving towards a consistent, industry-wide approach to sustainability communications, which is going to be key to increasing shopper understanding and enabling positive purchase power.

In terms of our technology, there are some exciting things in the pipeline, including ingredient-level transparency. Today, we power credible, consistent at a brand and product level, but in the near future, we’re looking to enable brands to tell the story of key ingredients credibly, and provide a greater depth of sustainability content for shoppers. Look further to the future and we believe brands with consistent, credible impact connected together with technology could unite citizens to enable a systemic change to commerce, to make it a force for good.

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