It is a privilege this week to introduce you to Lauren Bush Lauren, whose selfless dedication to fighting world hunger through FEED Projects has been a tremendous inspiration to me. Through FEED’s support of the world hunger epidemic and its participation in the UN World Food Program, it has successfully provided over 75 millions meals to children globally. And with Lauren’s passion, commitment and innovation, FEED will continue to grow and lead the way for “social businesses”. Lauren, as an entrepreneur and philanthropist, is a true role model and Women of Style. –Mandana Dayani
What Inspired Her To Start FEED Projects
"I was inspired to start FEED after traveling as the student ambassador for the UN World Food Programme while in college. I was exposed to the reality of poverty and hunger that so many live with around the world but, when I returned from these trips, I was frustrated that I didn’t have a way to engage my peers in this fight. While certainly an overwhelming issue, I felt that if I could break hunger down and provide a bite-size way to help, we could all make a powerful impact on children’s lives around the world. The FEED bag model (purchasing a product with a donation built into the cost), was my solution for getting people involved."
FEED Collaborations with Judith Leiber, Target and Clarins.
How she's grown the brand
"After I had the initial idea, it took me a few years to design, manufacture and receive an order from Amazon for the first FEED bag which, when purchased, would feed one child in school for one year. So after about three years of development, we were finally selling bags and making donations to feed children. Even now, after six and a half years since inception, I learn something new almost everyday which informs my process of growing and strengthening FEED through design innovation and marketing including strategic partnerships with brands such as Clarins, Tory Burch, Rachel Roy, Whole Foods and Target."
I love that my job is a combination of three areas of work that are ever-interesting to me: design, entrepreneurship and humanitarianism.
What people don't know about FEED
"People are surprised that we have been able to have such a large impact with the simple idea of selling products that give back. I’m so proud to say that FEED has been able to give over 75 million school meals to children globally."
Her role models
"I have been fortunate to have several wonderful mentors along the way, both in the non-profit world and the retail space. Muhammad Yunus defined and put a framework around the idea of “social business,” which is what FEED is. Approaching business with the ultimate intention and outcome of giving back to those in need is a powerful one. Professor Yunus is the father of this model and a personal hero of mine."
The future of FEED
"The ultimate dream is that there is eventually not a need for FEED, as we will have solved world hunger. But given that this is an unlikely accomplishment in five years, we intend to grow FEED into a lifestyle brand that translates across categories, providing consumers with socially-aware options for a host of their want and needs. And, in turn, we will be able to give millions of more meals to children in need around the world. "
Life is a marathon not a sprint. It’s important to keep the long-term vision in perspective when building an organization and a brand. It is not always about the quick wins and sometimes hard to turn down opportunities. Strategic development is what sustains and helps scale endeavors.
Style & Beauty
Her office wardrobe
"The FEED office is stylish, but casual. My staple outfit is jeans, a Henley shirt, a tweed blazer and TOMS shoes. And one of my many FEED bags of course. Now with over 60 different styles from which to choose, it’s possible to constantly change it up which is great."
Humphrey Bogart and Audrey Hepburn. Photo: Getty Images
Her style icon
"Audrey Hepburn is one of my style icons because she had a classic and effortless chic quality about everything she wore and how she put it together."
Her Travel Essentials
"Through my work with FEED, I have been able to travel the world, taking trips to countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. This past August, my team and I went to Kenya and Rwanda to visit school feeding programs that we support and the amazingly talented artisans who make some of our FEED bags. Meeting the people who inspire us to continue building FEED and fighting hunger is beyond powerful. I love this quote by Miriam Beard which perfectly communicates my feelings: “Travel is more that the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.”
"My travel essentials are Bose noise canceling headphones, my MacBook Air, my Mamiya 7 Camera and a good book that is relevant to the country I’m visiting."
How she finds balance
"Balance is a work in progress, but I do make a conscious effort to stay focused on what and who matters most in my life. I believe time and energy are precious, so it is important to be mindful and selective on how we spend them. Surrounding myself with people who inspire me and doing a job that I love makes for a very fulfilling life."
3 Things We Didn't Know About Lauren
1.) "I would spend money on travel over clothes or any other indulgence." 2.) "I studied design at Parsons and Central St. Martin and one of my first bosses was Zac Posen (I interned for him)." 3.) "I decided to become a vegetarian at age 4 and have remained one ever since."