Wellington-based Kiwi ethical clothing company Little Yellow Bird has just raised $1.2 million to develop a ‘world-first’ tech platform, enabling consumers to track garments from origin to sale.
In an effort to end unethical working conditions associated with fast fashion, Wellingtonian Samantha Jones, 28, has raised an impressive $1.2 million to develop a tech platform which will verify the origins of apparel in the garment industry.
The accomplished entrepreneur, named New Zealand’s Young Innovator of the Year in 2017, is making a habit of solving problems she’s experienced firsthand in the industry.
Her ethical clothing company Little Yellow Bird, which sought to fill the gap in the market for ethically made organic and fair-trade apparel, became her first high profile project.
Her latest endeavour, titled Origins, will utilise NEM blockchain technology to track products from origin to point of sale. “Just like I did with Little Yellow Bird, I’m actually trying to solve a problem that I’ve faced firsthand and one that I can see impacts people and businesses across a range of industries,” says Jones.
With growing pressure from consumers demanding visibility around where their clothing comes from and how their garments are made and under what conditions, Jones wants this to become the norm – not the exception.
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.
“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 just 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.
Jason Lee, NEM Expansion Director for Australia and New Zealand says, “the supply chain industry is one of best areas to develop a real world blockchain use case and we are excited to support Origins in utilising the NEM blockchain technology which will be a great showcase globally. This also aligns with NEM’s aim to support social impact project like these across the region.”
Jones and her team are heading back in India in August to set up phase one of the Origins implementation plan, 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.