A Wellington businesswoman has raised $1.2 million to develop a tech platform which will verify the origins of apparel in the garment industry in a quest to end modern-day slavery. At only 28 years of age, Samantha Jones is already an accomplished entrepreneur with a number of accolades including being named as New Zealand’s Young Innovator of the year in 2017.
Jones’s latest endeavor, Origins will utilize NEM blockchain technology to track their products from origin to point of sale. “Just like I did with Little Yellow Bird I’m actually trying to solve a problem I’ve faced firsthand and one that I can see impacts people and businesses across a range of industries,” says Jones.
Little Yellow Bird, an ethically made uniform apparel company, which until now was one of Jones’s most high profile projects was dreamed up in 2014 after she left the military and saw a gap in the market for ethically made organic and fair-trade apparel.
Jones credits her early success partly to her experience and time working as a Supply Chain Manager in the military and her time living in developing countries as a child.
Consumer pressure for increased visibility of a garments supply chain is part of the reason why Little Yellow Bird has been so successful but Jones also recognizes that her business is unique and ultimately wants this to become the norm.
“As we’ve become a more established business, my focus has definitely shifted to differentiating our brand based on product and helping other businesses to implement the traceability and ethics that are now ingrained in the Little Yellow Bird ethos,” she says.
Jones became the second New Zealand venture and first woman globally to have a project funded via the NEM community fund proposal process. The NEM platform is a blockchain solution that aims to simplify the development process with a specific focus on impact projects.
“The supply chain industry is one of the best areas to develop a real-world blockchain use case and we are excited to support Origins in utilizing the NEM blockchain technology which will be a great showcase globally. This is also aligned with NEM’s aim to support social impact project like these across the region.”
Lack of visibility within the garment sector is a global issue with consumers increasingly demanding brands to provide greater transparency. Many brands are unable to track where their garments are made and Jones believes she has a solution that will help other brands solve this issue.
Jones and her team are heading back in India in August to set up phase one of the Origins implementation plans before Jones heads to Edinburgh to represent New Zealand at the Social Enterprise World Forum as a guest speaker presenting her learnings and impact journey.