An Interview with FEED’s Lauren Bush Lauren
The name Lauren Bush Lauren incorporates two distinct, all-American Dynasties—the (George H.W. and George W.) Bush political one and the (Ralph) Lauren fashion one. Lauren, however, has carved her own path by founding FEED, an impact driven lifestyle brand whose profits help fight childhood hunger around the world and in the U.S., a little over a decade ago.
FEED started with an iconic burlap bag, and over the years Lauren has collaborated with fashion A-listers like Karlie Kloss and Rebecca Minkoff on designs and partnerships. Through her partners on the ground, Lauren and FEED have been able to provide over 100 million meals to kids in need—inspiring, right? Along the way, she’s become a mom to two boys, James (3) and Max (9 months).
Before her upcoming speech at Greenwich United Way’s annual charity luncheon in Greenwich, CT, Lauren chatted with Greenwich Moms about what inspires her, how becoming a mom has impacted her work and the future of FEED.
One hundred million meals to kids in need—wow! Did you expect to make that kind of impact when you started out?
Yes and no. I hoped it would have a big impact, but when I began it was one bag and we were just focused on each sale and the impact from that bag—and we still are! I’ve been happily surprised and thrilled.
Today, the FEED line incorporates not only bags, but also jewelry, home goods and even a kids’ lunchbox. Do you have favorites?
That iconic burlap bag is still one of my personal favorites. We have a small selection of beautiful utility leather bags. The backpack is super functional. The cosmetic pouch has also become a favorite of mine. I just really think of what we (and our customers) use daily. Whether it’s a travel duffel or a backpack, everything is still classic and utilitarian.
Your interest in this realm started at Princeton, when you traveled with the UN World Food Programme. If you hadn’t launched FEED, would you be doing something else in this area?
Yes—I was interested in development around the world so I’d probably be working for a humanitarian aid agency. I also really love fashion, design and entrepreneurship. Pre-FEED I was debating between those two different life career paths, so it’s been great to scratch an itch on both of those fronts!
You started FEED long before you were a mom—how has becoming a parent contributed to your passion for what you’re doing?
It definitely has brought it home all the more for me. Becoming a mom, you see how much love and attention goes into taking care of your kids and feeding them. All moms want the best for their kids and it’s heartbreaking to think so many parents around the world can’t provide for their children in the way they want to. That’s where we come in. FEED donates to the 65 poorest countries around the world and here in the United States through school meals. It helps kids stay in school and break out of the poverty cycle.
So wonderful! Public service has a deep history in your family. I know your kids are still quite young, but is the value in giving back something you’re trying to instill?
It’s definitely something I hope to do with my kids as they get older and more cognizant and able to help. When I was growing up in Texas, my mother started a charity for homeless abused children and I was exposed to the fact that not everyone else lives like us, and had that opportunity to give back.
Like all moms, you’re clearly pulled in a lot of directions. How do you avoid the mom-guilt trap when you’re working?
One thing that makes me feel better is I love what I do and know what I’m doing has an impact. So that makes me feel good about what I do every day. Mom guilt is real for sure though! I try to be present when I’m at home and not on my phone. I like feeling like my kids are getting quality time and not getting a distracted mom.
You always look put together—do you have any quick tips for this?
I think finding a uniform helps. There are a few key pieces that I can wear time and again and look and feel presentable and like myself.
Great tip! What’s the best advice you ever received as a working mom, and who was it from?
A friend recommended carving out one special activity with your kid each week. On Friday I leave a little early on Fridays to go to a music class—my son and I both look forward to it.
What’s next for FEED?
We opened the first store a year and a half ago in Brooklyn and it has been great for the brand. We’ve started to sell with Nordstrom and we are coming out with a new, improved diaper bag pre-Mother’s Day. We had a great one but after I became a mom I gave feedback and we’ve refined it.
We’re looking forward to hearing you speak at the Sole Sisters luncheon! What drew you to this event?
United Way has done such great work around America for so long and to be invited to Greenwich for the event seemed so aligned with FEED. I have a cousin and friends in Greenwich, so it’s also a fun excuse to see them!