Meet Jessi Baker: Founder of Provenance

Jessi Baker founded Provenance as a tech solution to help customer cut through false pro planet claims and identify brands who are truly conscious of their impact on the planet. Earlier this year, we at THE FIND partnered with Provenance to help you look behind the labels and marketing claims of brands, and make confident, sustainable product choices.

We spoke to Jessi about how Provenance is working to fill a gap in the market, the challenges of running a business, and how we can all live more sustainably.

Tell us about your background.

I studied a mixture of engineering and design, and have always been interested in how things are made. I then spent my early twenties learning about different supply chains, which really opened my eyes to how products are made.

How did Provenance come about? Why did you see a gap in the market

Provenance started as a response to my own personal frustration about how little we know about the things we buy and their social and environmental impact. I wanted to make ‘green’ purchases, but couldn’t find the information I needed in a trustworthy format. So I founded Provenance as a system to enable brands to make consistent, credible communications about their impact.

What’s been the biggest challenge you have faced as a brand so far?

In the early days, it was clear that Provenance was ahead of the market – brands would regularly tell me that the idea of revealing their products’ suppliers, ingredients and impact was absurd. Thankfully, the market’s come a long way in a short space of time. Marketers know that 4 in 5 shoppers are changing their purchase preferences based on sustainability (according to Capgemini), so we have much less of a job convincing brands on the need to communicate on these issues.

What inspires you and motivates you?

In the last 18 months, seeing sustainability move from a relatively niche interest to a mainstream priority has been incredibly motivating. We’re seeing shoppers, regulators, employees and investors demand more from brands – I think the extent of the media coverage that COP26 has generated in recent weeks is another sign of how far we’ve come.

What are you most excited to work on over the next few months?

We’re excited to trial some exciting new tech features to expand the ways in which brands can be transparent with shoppers. 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.

We’re also excited to tackle packaging recyclability, which is currently a huge pain point for shoppers, brands and retailers alike. We’re currently developing a tool that will enable shoppers to look up how and where to recycle specific packaging in their area, to help citizens handle packaging in a way that matches their values.

What piece of advice would you give to someone who is looking to set up their own company or starting a new project?

Particularly for those starting up in the consumer goods space, make sure you’re building positive social and environmental impact into the foundations of your business – becoming a B Corp, which by definition balances impact with profit, is one way of doing this. Earlier this month, I was speaking on a British Beauty Council panel at COP26, where Michelle Feeney from Floral Street had similar advice for beauty-brands-to-be: ‘don’t launch a brand that won’t be planet positive’.

What does sustainability mean to you as a brand?

Good question! It’s a contentious word, and one that we try to handle sensitively. But ultimately, sustainability for Provenance is about tackling the impact that your supply chain has on people and the planet. The people part is really important, and can sometimes be forgotten as brands can sometimes have tunnel vision on packaging waste or carbon. We take a holistic approach to sustainability communications – our Proof Points are divided between five ‘impact themes’: Climate, Waste, Nature, Workers and Communities.

At THE FIND you can find brands and products for all your home and beauty needs, with a particular focus on sustainability and being kind to our planet. What would be your top tip to help encourage others to live more sustainably and mindfully?

Don’t underestimate the impact of your purchase power. The more that we, as individuals, can support brands that are really serious about mitigating their impact, the more those brands will grow their market share, which is good news for our planet. Right now, I recognise that it can be incredibly difficult to make ‘green’ purchases with confidence, but I’m hopeful that as more and more brands commit to transparency, we’ll be able to enable positive purchases at scale.

Why is it important to work with THE FIND?

THE FIND is home to a number of brands that are doing fantastic work to reduce their impact on people and the planet. But for beauty shoppers, it’s generally difficult to distinguish between brands that are making legitimate sustainability claims from those that are greenwashing. Working with THE FIND means that Provenance can give assurance to their shoppers about the credibility of those claims, by supporting every claim with evidence from the supply chain or third-party verification.

What do you look for when finding the perfect gift?

Firstly, the best gift is something the receiver actually wants. I am a big fan of asking for ideas directly. Or send over a few categories to pick from and see what they need and are hunting to buy anyway.

Beyond that, if I am buying a product rather than an experience, I buy essentials, useful things, that have a great story of empowering people or nurturing the environment.

It’s always fun to end on a quick-fire round…

  • Favourite TV series right now? Succession
  • Last thing you cooked? Roasted vegetables, I eat a lot of them.
  • Favourite Instagram account to follow? - they are great at making understanding and acting on climate change easy
  • Best book recommendation? I just read The Vanishing Half and really enjoyed it
  • Perfect way to spend your weekend? Massive hike in the woods and a trip to the pub with friends!
  • Best restaurant you’ve eaten at? I am, unsurprisingly considering I run a company called Provenance, into farm-to-table eating. Small restaurants that grow their own produce are my fave, for example, The Ethicurian, near Bristol.
  • Country you’d love to visit? Argentina. One of my good friends is from there, and I’ve heard it’s beautiful, but that’s a lot of carbon miles or a long boat ride, so I will have to wait for when I have a lot more time.

Shop conscious brands at THE FIND.

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