Developing Sustainable Packaging Innovations with Jennifer Patrick of Patagonia

July 11, 2023

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Jennifer Patrick is the Global Branding and Packaging Director at Patagonia. She is responsible for driving Patagonia’s branding and packaging initiatives in support of the company’s mission to save our home planet.

John Shegerian: Do you have a suggestion for a rock star Impact Podcast guest? Go to and just click, Be a Guest, to recommend someone today. This edition of The Impact Podcast is brought to you by ERI. ERI has a mission to protect people, the planet, and your privacy, and is the largest fully integrated IT and electronics asset disposition provider and cybersecurity focused hardware destruction company in the United States and maybe even the world. For more information on how ERI can help your business properly dispose of outdated electronic hardware devices, please visit This episode of the Impact Podcast is brought to you by Closed Loop Partners. Closed Loop Partners is the leading circular economy investor in the United States, with an extensive network of Fortune 500 corporate investors, family offices, institutional investors, industry experts, and impact partners. Closed Loop’s platform spans the arc of capital, from venture capital to private equity, bridging gaps and fostering synergies to scale the circular economy. To find Closed Loop Partners, please go to

John: Welcome to another edition of The Impact Podcast. I’m John Shegerian. I’m so honored to have with us today, Jennifer Patrick. She’s the Director of Global Packaging and Branding at Patagonia. Welcome, Jennifer, to the Impact Podcast.

Jennifer Patrick: All right, thank you so much. I’m excited to be here.

John: Hey, and before we get talking about all the important and great work that you’re doing with your colleagues at Patagonia, can you share a little bit about your backstory, Jennifer? Where did you grow up, and how did you even get on this journey of sustainability and working for one of the coolest, most iconic brands in the world?

Jennifer: Well, it’s been quite a journey. I was born in Oklahoma and raised a handful of other places, but I claim Texas and Florida as home too. But I started this journey in college, really going to school for photography. It’s a little bit of an odd place to start, but being creative and art was always something that I loved very much. After college, I moved to LA and worked for a music magazine. A lot of my jobs go in this direction, of a creative side. At the magazine, I did concert photography and also production work. I would manage the team to make sure that we met deadlines, but then would also go and photograph concerts, like I said. After that, I went and worked at a high-end publishing company that was called Passion, and we produced tons of different books around architecture and art, and collections, and again, got in that space of started their first photo studio and photographed all the collections or art that would go in the books. But then also did the production and kind of strategy side of getting the books together, making sure they’re on time, making sure all the color was correct. I had a handful of other jobs earlier on in my career that I’m sure we don’t need to pick through. But it just kind of sets the stage for how I’ve managed my career, half creative, half strategy, and business. After working at Passion for seven years, I thought I’ve kind of done what I’ve needed to do with photography.

That passion has fulfilled itself through concert photography, studio photography, outdoor photography, I feel like I really did that. I was really looking to move more in a business and strategy position. I took a job at Patagonia that was a creative project management job. I’ve worked with creatives for, at that time, probably 10, 12 years. I was in the marketing department at Patagonia, and I was working on their books and then started taking over some of the packaging creative, and throughout that journey realized, hey, there’s a really big gap here. Nobody’s managing the packaging and watching out for the materials and design, and sustainability. With the support of the Patagonia team, we created the packaging and branding team. It’s really cool at Patagonia because I think Yvon always says, “He couldn’t send a lot of his employees to go work anywhere else because there’s such an entrepreneurial spirit there.” I really feel like I got to kind of hang on to that and make something of it where we started a brand new team to support packaging and branding and the sustainable efforts that go into that.

John: That is so cool. I have to just tell you, when you said you were a photographer and a concert photographer, it started making a lot of sense because, first of all, the art in the creative side of that industry melds well for what Patagonia is really one of the coolest, most creative companies on the planet when it comes to clothing and sustainability, and everything else. But I do have one great story I have to tell you about concerts and photography. 1993, I was a real estate developer, and we had some beautiful old buildings in LA that became photo shoot areas. I got a phone call that there was this young lady that wanted to do a photo shoot. Her name was Pam, and I said, fine. I went and checked on the photo shoot. We did all the documents. I never paid attention to anybody’s name or anything. I went down there to check on the photo shoot. Now, this is in the days before any cell phones or anything existed. I get to the top of the building to go see who this Pam is doing her little photo shoot. I get there, and I see this young lady taking photos of a gentleman. I’m walking closer to them, and she turns around, and she says, “Oh, who are you?” I said, I’m John Shegerian, and she goes, “Well, here’s my card.” She hands me her card, and I look down at her card, Pam Springsteen and who was she taking photos of? None other than Peter Frampton himself.

Jennifer: Really?

John: I always think back to that day because I’m a New York, New Jersey boy, so growing up, Bruce Springsteen was the guy, and Peter Frampton’s live album was probably one of our biggest albums of my era and my generation.

Jennifer: Of course.

John: Rock star photography and the rock music industry, and the concert industry, but the photography side of it, when done well, growing up with Rolling Stone, I know that that’s such a creative and fascinating industry. Good for you to use your creative side on that, and you morphed it into what you’re doing now with Patagonia. With Patagonia, share a little bit about… Patagonia, its name has always been, almost from a DNA cultural standpoint, synonymous with sustainability and environmental stewardship, good environmental, responsible environmental stewardship. Now, with that in 2023, how do you explain when you tell people what you do in an elevator pitch Patagonia’s consciousness when it comes to sustainability and environmental stewardship?

Jennifer: I would say that Patagonia makes high quality products. I think that that’s a key part of sustainability, especially in fashion. But we also realize that there’s an impact on the environment doing the business. Our goal is to have the least amount of impact as possible and while at the same time, using the profits from our company to save wild lands and practice regenerative practices. Really, I think just being conscious of what we’re doing and making the best choices that we can, whether it’s fair trade factories and making sure that the employees that work there are well taken care of. Do the types of materials that we build our products out of, and ensuring that you can buy that jacket one time and use it for 30 years, you’re not having to continually buy a new product.

John: It’s true. You’re saying one of the keys to Patagonia’s success is it’s not part of that fast fashion trend of go-and-throw. It’s really, Patagonia makes such great products that are iconic and are built to last that people buy them, and they keep them in the family, actually.

Jennifer: That’s the goal, or they can hand them down, right?

John: Right.

Jennifer: I think another thing too is resell. That’s a huge opportunity in that space. If you are done with the product, the quality of that product is still intact, and we can resell it to someone else who needs that jacket and can take it on adventures.

John: Packaging is such a hot topic now given where we are with regards to the shift from the linear to circular economy, and now that ESG is here to stay, and sustainability now is becoming hip in America for the first time. It’s been hip throughout Europe for a couple generations and parts of Asia such as South Korea and Japan, but US, never so much. We’re a culture of convenience, and we’re a go-and-throw society. Talk a little bit about the importance of environmental impact that can be made with good packaging and product labeling that are carefully thought out and executed.

Jennifer: It’s a really good point because it’s interesting that packaging, which in a lot of cases is not the most important part of what you’re buying in a product, right?

John: Right.

Jennifer: But it is getting so much attention from a sustainability standpoint. The lens that I look at this from is it’s such an amazing opportunity from a design standpoint to reduce the amount of paper or packaging that you’re using and really take it on as a design challenge. I think it’s also an opportunity from a materials standpoint, as long as those are well-thought-out materials. But I think that utilizing technology as well, since we’re growing pretty fast in this space, to communicate with customers, has allowed us to use less materials when we’re making our packaging, but still communicate and educate with our customers. I think the other thing that we have to consider too, with packaging especially, and this is across not just fashion, but the food industry, there’s a lot of regulations around what needs to go on packaging to be able to communicate end of life for that. I would say that those are ever changing. To be able to do that in the digital space with things like QR codes has been a pretty huge win from a sustainability standpoint. Not only are you able to use less packaging, you’re able to still communicate more. For us, we used to have hang tags, which are those tags that hang on your product, right…

John: Yeah.

Jennifer: …With the barcode and price information. We had a hang tag and three or four different inserts on there that we’re talking about the material, the environmental impact, and features of that product. Now you’ll see this in retail, in 2023, we have eliminated all of those inserts and replaced them with the QR code, which has been able to expand how we’re talking to the customer, what those stories are, show videos about how to use maybe our bags or the jacket. But we’re also able to meet more regulations this way. That saved us money, but it has saved us over 170,000 pounds of paper each season. We have two seasons a year at Patagonia. We do fall and spring. The environmental impact of just thinking about the design, how you can communicate with the technology out there, I think is the best way that companies can move forward from a sustainability standpoint.

John: Are QR codes also more fungible in that if you want to change the messaging on the spot, like a website, you could change the messaging as opposed to once you print analog tags, they were set for as long as that season lasted? Is there value in terms of your messaging in terms of the ability to make creative changes in the field?

Jennifer: Yes, absolutely. But it’s not just about creative changes, right.

John: No.

Jennifer: Because packaging is created very far in advance of the…

John: Right.

Jennifer: …product. It basically has to be at the factory when they’re making the product. Sometimes features change, or maybe some information got printed incorrectly on the hang tag. Not that that can’t happen now, but if it’s wrong on the URL that the QR code’s landing on, you’re right, we can just go change it. Or, to your point, if we want to change that messaging, we’re able to do that. I think the other really amazing thing about the QR code is a global company like Patagonia, we’re able to speak to our customers in their own language and about local issues. One QR code will show up in the US on our US website, and the same QR code scanned in Europe will show up on our EU website in whatever language the phone is set to. There’s just such a broad amount of communicating data management and data analytics you’re able to capitalize on by using the QR code.

John: Jennifer, explain a little bit your role is fascinating in that, Director of Global Packaging and Branding… For our listeners and viewers who’ve just joined us, we’ve got Jennifer Patrick, the Director of Global Packaging and Branding at Patagonia, the iconic and wonderful brand, Patagonia. To find Jennifer and her colleagues and all the important work they’re doing in sustainability, please go to Jennifer, explain with regards to your position what branding means and how that intersects with packaging.

Jennifer: That’s a really good question. Branding for my team’s role is anything that’s on the product, so labels, care and content labels, if there’s product communication on the product telling you how to care for it, or maybe we have a story about repair. Anything that’s pad printed on the garment, so really any type of product communication that’s on the garment. It intersects because we’re doing the same thing with our packaging. What it’s allowed us to do is be really consistent as a brand and put standards in place so that every piece of branding and packaging has very similar messaging and feel. That’s been a really exciting place we’ve been able to take Patagonia with this team.

John: What happens next with QR codes? Help me, because I’m not that tech-savvy when it comes to QR codes. What does the evolution look like in the months and years ahead with what you and your team are focused on in terms of the digitization possibilities of QR codes?

Jennifer: My team’s focus now is, we’ve done phase one, essentially, we’ve got it on packaging.

John: Right.

Jennifer: Phase two is getting it on product. Our goal is to get QR code labels on products. A lot of the same theories apply. We want to communicate, we want to be able to change data, gather data analytics. But the other really big thing that is coming is being able to use the QR code on products again for those regulations. Because so many regulations are rolling out in 2025. But there’s also a lot of work in the US and the EU to replace the care and content label with just a QR code. The amazing thing about that opportunity from an environmental standpoint is that we would be able to save all that material that all those booklets of care and content are being printed on and reduce it to just a small QR code label, if companies want. We’re not trying to say mandate one or the other. But right now, the amount of care and content label tape wraps around the globe seven times. If you can imagine how much material that would save, that’s a huge environmental opportunity. Again, technology coming in place, giving more information to customers, but also it’s a sustainability effort when we look at it from material usage.

John: Do you find that your clients, customers, do they dig all this, do they dig the abolition of all that care and content and all the paper that QR codes are taking the place of? In other words, are people excited to use QR codes because they know it’s doing a good thing?

Jennifer: I believe they are. We did a lot of research before we went into shifting our program. This wasn’t just a shot in the dark.

John: Right.

Jennifer: But we did the research, I think, kind of 2020, right in COVID, and then COVID really helped support this. You go to restaurants now, and you’re scanning QR codes. I mean, remember that Super Bowl ad…

John: Yeah.

Jennifer: …that had the QR code that blew up the internet?

John: Yes.

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Jennifer: People love the QR code. They know how to use it. We did some live research where we went into stores, and people of all ages, genders, and ethnicities were able to scan the QR code, and very few needed prompting. We definitely did our homework in that space. The data that we’re seeing now is doubling basically weekly how many scans we’re getting on products. Our customers are showing us that they love it, they’re engaging with it. I think that the longer we have it, they’re going to become more and more comfortable and used to seeing it on products.

John: Jennifer, how many, just so I understand, and our customers and our listeners and our viewers understand, how many countries do you sell products in that you’re having to juggle in terms of language changes, branding tweaks, and all the other cultural differences that you need to be sensitive to? How many countries, how big is that landscape that you play in?

Jennifer: Well, right now, we do have products that are sold globally.

John: Right.

Jennifer: That’s a lot to account for…

John: Yeah.

Jennifer: …whenever it’s a globally distributed product.

John: Wow.

Jennifer: We actually create packaging for, and branding, for globally. Right now, our care and content label, just for example…

John: Yeah.

Jennifer: …has 15 different languages on it. Some of our booklets of care and content labels can be around four or five pages long, and that’s front and back. I think a lot of what we saw too, through that research that we did, and this applies to packaging and care, and content labels, is that a lot of people were not engaging with it. When you’re going into retail, the most important thing to the customer is price. That was the number one thing. How much does this cost? That’s what you’re looking at.

John: That’s right.

Jennifer: We found that a lot of people who are buying an $800 ski jacket probably already did their research. They’re not going into the store saying, hey, let’s figure this out here. But the people who were engaged and possibly reading those inserts that we had are the same people who are going to scan that QR code to figure out more information or scan that care and content label to figure out not only how to wash it, but how could you wash it more environmentally friendly. There are different types of engagement, and customers that want to engage with products in different ways.

John: Jennifer, that’s so important, but that’s so interesting. I agree. I’ll go in, and I’m just thinking about what I want, what I’ve studied, about making sure I get the right price. But then I’ll worry about the care and content once I’ve already worn it. Having the permanence of the QR code that I can always go back and refer to instead of losing that booklet or throwing it out at the beginning, it makes more common sense anyway. There’s a real intelligence to that whole process anyway.

Jennifer: Absolutely.

John: I love it. Going back now to packaging, now you’ve got the QR codes going on packaging and now going to start doing the lift on the products themselves, what’s the next step then on packaging? What’s the next frontier that you and your team are thinking about in terms of the evolution of, how do you want to say it, sustainable or responsible packaging when it comes to the fashion industry?

Jennifer: Absolutely. My team is really excited about circular packaging.

John: Yeah.

Jennifer: How can we use leftover materials from the factory to build a bag that maybe one of your products come in that you want to continue to reuse, that would help you along the way. Or, basically, what’s something that you won’t throw out that you can use that we can keep in play? That’s definitely a challenge because it’s not just about what the customer wants, but how does this stack in retail, how does this shift, and how does this protect the garment on top of it? That’s a design challenge that we’re facing right now that has huge impacts from a sustainability standpoint because we’re not creating more trash. In an ideal scenario, we’re using either leftover material or any type of maybe returned product that we could, obviously, clean and reuse, and possibly making the packaging.

John: It seems as though your client base, including the next generation of much younger people than me. I’m 60, and my children are huge fans of your great products and brand. They care more than any generation about this massive, unstoppable trend of the linear to circular economy. Making your packaging more circular in its makeup is only going to be not only a benefit for planet earth, but your constituents and clients, and customers are going to really appreciate that even more that you’re leading on that issue as well, I take it?

Jennifer: Absolutely. I think from what I’ve seen at my time at Patagonia and the trend with our customers, it seems like the harder stance we take with the environment and the more that Patagonia stands by its beliefs our customer base grows. I think that to your point, our customers appreciate the honesty and the transparency that Patagonia offers, and it does wonders for the business as well.

John: Talk a little bit about the leadership role, the responsibility that comes with having already your iconic brand be known as… It’s almost like people think about Patagonia equals sustainability, equals environmental stewardship. That was the genesis story of Patagonia to start with. You had a huge head start. But what kind of responsibility, heavy responsibility comes with that, Jennifer, that weighs on you as you and your team create these great solutions? Is the world watching? Is the fashion world watching, and then they follow because you are the leader in sustainability?

Jennifer: Our goal is to inspire other businesses, and you’re right, it’s a lot of pressure. Every employee at Patagonia is expected to constantly push towards the edge of what is the most sustainable way of operating their section of the business. For packaging, it’s really interesting. We’re working on 2024 and starting 2025 packaging.

John: Wow.

Jennifer: By the time it’s out there in market, we’re trying to make sure we’re still leading the way from a material and design perspective. We’re constantly looking forward, but at the same time, we’re constantly looking backward. What did we create two years ago that we can improve on? Is that starting to use algae inks? Is there a better substrate? Is there a better design that will reduce the amount of material needed for that project? Not are only are we managing new packaging or branding, but we’re constantly looking back at the program that we already have. How can we make it better? That’s where I challenge my team constantly. One of the amazing things about working at Patagonia is the passion. I have not been on a team yet, and my team especially is one of the most dedicated and inspiring teams that I’ve ever worked with, because we push each other and we respect each other and the skills that each other brings. I think that that makes us such a better team, and it allows for us to trust each other in a way that we can explore. We can push those boundaries that are out there. I think that it’s really exciting.

John: Talk a little bit about that. It’s always fascinating and fun to understand, pull the curtain aside and look behind the curtain. How big is your group, your division, and talk about the cultural diversity. Where do they all sit? Are they in all different parts of the world, all different parts of the United States? How diverse are the voices that come back to the table to make the best and brightest decisions?

Jennifer: Well, I told you Patagonia did not have a team that did this until about almost four years ago now.

John: Wow.

Jennifer: We are a small and mighty team at this point.

John: Okay.

Jennifer: We have a total of four of us. But the thing that we’re doing right now that’s expected, is we partner so closely with product line management, our environmental teams, all of our global regions, our distribution centers, our factories, our product development teams. We are small, but we touch almost every part of…

John: Every…

Jennifer: …the organization, even legal and regulatory, that lives on our team as well for packaging and branding.

John: Jennifer, you have a fascinating background, which has obviously informed you to be this amazing leader with one of the greatest brands on the planet in fashion. Where do you draw your inspiration? Do you benchmark where you are now in terms of a brand against other fashion brands? Or do you look outside the industry to find new inspiration for circular economy behavior, packaging opportunities, and other types of beneficial opportunities that you can leverage into your brand?

Jennifer: Yes, yes, and yes, I feel like it’s all. You’re right, though. I mean, there are so many big brands out there that have amazing research capabilities and partners that we work with directly, and even people that we work with at Patagonia being able to kind of bounce off of an environmental team that’s really focused on research and understanding what materials work best. But I feel like the packaging industry in general, I’ve had such an awesome network of different people that are inspirational. Some are really small companies, but some are, like, Nestle. I feel like we all come together, and maybe our values don’t always 100% align, but I think we all can agree to your point earlier about this lens that’s on packaging, that we want to try to do what’s best for the environment, and there’s always something we can learn from each other. I find that really inspirational. It’s not always from, oh, what new material are you using, or how are you designing this, but how can we look at our processes different or just be inspired creatively from each other. I think another really big thing that’s inspiring to us is just getting outside and being in the environment, and traveling. When you go to places that have poverty or that have had really damaging environmental instances, it really hits home as to what you’re doing and why you’re trying to do it and the impact that you can have and the impact that any business really can have if they just start to question how they’re making products and how can we do it better for the environment.

John: Jennifer, what makes you excited? You’ve been doing this now with your team, four-ish plus years. What does the next four or five years look like for you? What gets you out of bed? What gets you super jazzed and excited every day?

Jennifer: A lot of it is my team. I have a great team, and they’re very inspiring to me. But at Patagonia, to me, it’s that challenge of constantly growing this team and understanding how is everything working with us globally and how do we continue to push that boundary on what we’re doing with packaging to lead the way. Whether it’s distribution centers and how are we managing our packaging there to working every single day with our creative team and our designer to push them to come up with new guidelines that use less material, or work with my program manager who’s constantly researching new materials. I think that this job is really exciting to me because it goes back to strategy and creative, that’s where my brain loves to be, and I feel like I get to just feed off of that every single day. It just really makes me happy to do it. We’re such a cool company that’s focused on the environment.

John: It makes me happy that you’re the Director of Global Packaging and Branding at Patagonia. I really am grateful to you for your time today on the Impact Podcast. I’m grateful that you’re making such a positive impact with your colleagues on the planet and with your friends at Patagonia. To find Jennifer, her colleagues, and all the great work they’re doing in sustainability and the fashion industry, and way beyond, please go to Jennifer Patrick, you’re making the world a better and greener place. Thank you for being on the Impact Podcast. You’re always welcome back here to share your journey in sustainability and all the great impacts that Patagonia is making on this wonderful planet that we all share together.

Jennifer: Thank you so much.

John: This edition of The Impact Podcast is brought to you by Engage. Engage is a digital booking platform revolutionizing the talent booking industry. With thousands of athletes, celebrities, entrepreneurs, and business leaders, Engage is the go-to spot for booking talent, for speeches, custom experiences, live streams, and much more. For more information on Engage or to book talent today, visit This edition of the Impact podcast is brought to you by ERI. ERI has a mission to protect people, the planet, and your privacy, and is the largest fully integrated IT and electronics asset disposition provider and cybersecurity focused hardware destruction company in the United States and maybe even the world. For more information on how ERI can help your business properly dispose of outdated electronic hardware devices, please visit