Q+A: Lauren Bush Lauren, FEED
FEED is a social business that creates products that engage people in the fight against world hunger. Their mission is so incredible, we're honoring them with a DUMBO Dozen at the 2018 Annual Meeting!
We talked to Lauren Bush Lauren, the woman behind the company, to learn more about the work they do and how it all began.
Tell us about how FEED started: the inspiration, the mission, and how you hit on the iconic bag.
I was inspired to start FEED when I was a student in college, after traveling around the world with the UN World Food Programme. Through them and that experience, my eyes were opened to the realities of extreme poverty and hunger that 1 in 8 people live with, and are born into, every single day. I was determined to do something to help, but didn’t quite know what, until I had the “ah-ha” moment for the first FEED bag— a tangible way for people to get involved in fighting world hunger, an issue that can often seem massive and overwhelming. At the time I was also very interested in design and fashion, so combining my passions— design and impact— seemed very natural. I am so proud of what Team FEED and our conscious community has accomplished over the last 10 years, and we’re really just getting started.
Can you tell us about one or two of the charities that proceeds support?
Every time you shop FEED, you are supporting free and nutritious school meal programs around the world. We work with our longtime giving partner on the ground, the UN World Food Programme, to provide school meals in 62 of the poorest countries globally. Here in the U.S., we work with No Kid Hungry, who helps to facilitate free school lunch and breakfast programs for children who need them. As of this year, all of our products give back both in the U.S. and around the globe. Beyond the sale of our products, we work with Feeding America, through our FEED Supper initiative, as well as the Food Bank for NYC for special, hyper-local collaborations and projects.
What’s your favorite thing about running this business? What is the most rewarding aspect of the work?
Running FEED is incredibly rewarding. Not only do I get to be an entrepreneur and a designer, but I know that as a consumer goods company, we are having a meaningful and measurable impact with every product sold. In the FEED Shop & Café every item— from the bags we sell to the matcha lattes we serve— helps feed school age children around the world.
Do you have a favorite among the many beautiful things you sell?
That is very hard... but I would probably say the original FEED 1 bag, (still one of our best-sellers, especially in the store) since it was the bag that started it all over ten years ago. Since then, we’ve come out with tons of new colorways, and even a very special, now sold out, leather version to celebrate our 10 year anniversary.
Major congratulations on hitting 100 million meals last September! What's the goal for the next ten years?
Thank you! While I am so proud of what we have done this past 10 years, I know there is so much more FEED can do to grow as a brand and in doing so, help contribute to the fight to end childhood hunger. Much more to come...
Do you have any advice for budding female entrepreneurs?
My advice is to listen to your gut, be persistent, and incorporate bigger mission and purpose into your business from the start. This larger mission will not only keep you passionate after many years of ups and downs, but it will keep your team and your customer base passionate and engaged as well.
What brought you to brick & mortar, and to DUMBO?
I have always loved DUMBO as an iconic New York neighborhood with the best views in NYC. I am so proud that FEED’s first ever Shop & Café is in DUMBO as it is a wonderful community of residents and businesses.
What’s your favorite place in DUMBO?
Besides the FEED Shop & Café (duh!), I love Brooklyn Bridge Park.