CEO and Founder, FEED
Lauren Bush Lauren
Lauren Bush Lauren is the founder and CEO of FEED, a philanthropic lifestyle brand that is dedicated to fighting childhood hunger. While traveling with the UN World Food Programme as a college student, Lauren saw first-hand the reality of the hunger crisis around the world. In 2007, she started FEED and since has provided over 100 million meals to students in over 63 countries. We are honored to feature her as our December Mujer.
Tell us a little bit about your life and your career before founding FEED. And how did that experience lead you to founding FEED?
FEED is actually my first and only job. I had the idea for FEED when I was in college and started selling the first FEED bags after I graduated in 2007. Leading up founding FEED, I was traveling with The UN World Food Programme as a student in college and through that experience I was exposed to the realities of hunger and poverty that so many families and children face around the globe. World hunger is an issue that can seem daunting and overwhelming – I wanted to help and create an opportunity for others to get involved as well. I designed the first FEED bag as a way for people to tangibly give back and support feeding kids in school, through an everyday purchase. Each product (we are primarily known for our bags), that we make and sell has a number on it and that number signifies the amount of school meals that your purchase helps provide. The school meals are provided through school feeding programs run by our three giving partners – The UN World Food Programme, No Kid Hungry, and Akshaya Patra. To date our customers have helped us provide over 120 million school meals – and counting.
FEED started with bags and has now started making jewelry, home goods and other accessories. What is your favorite piece?
It is impossible to choose a favorite as I have a hand in creating every FEED product we make and sell. I am probably most nostalgic and partial to our classic & reversible FEED 1 bag, which is the bag I launched the brand with (and still one of our best-sellers today).
I’m sure your day is filled with rewarding moments - is there one in particular that stands out?
I have had almost 15 years of rewarding moments, as well as the inevitable challenges that all small businesses and brands face every day. For me, I still get such a thrill out of seeing a stranger in NYC walking down the street or standing on the subway carrying a FEED bag. Getting to see my vision and product being carried around and enjoyed by someone in the wild still makes me giddy all these years later.
"For me, I still get such a thrill out of seeing a stranger in NYC walking down the street or standing on the subway carrying a FEED bag. Getting to see my vision and product being carried around and enjoyed by someone in the wild still makes me giddy all these years later."
What is the most challenging part of your business? And what surprises have you encountered along the way?
Beyond the specific challenges that COVID has brought to our lives and to the world at large over the last almost two years, I think the most challenging thing has been staying true to my vision and founding intention behind FEED, while also growing and reaching more customers and thus being able to donate even more meals. In other words, staying true to our founding purpose and brand DNA, while also growing and evolving. I have been happily surprised to see how many customers really do want to shop consciously and do good with their consumer choices. What started as a ‘trend’ in the 2000s when FEED started is now a movement that is undoubtedly here to stay.
What’s next for FEED?
We have lots cooking always (and some particularly exciting & big things for the next few years!), but nothing I can speak about just yet, so will leave you in suspense…
I have been happily surprised to see how many customers really do want to shop consciously and do good with their consumer choices. What started as a ‘trend’ in the 2000s when FEED started is now a movement that is undoubtedly here to stay.
What’s the best advice you ever received and who was it from?
The best life advice I ever got was “treat others as you would want to be treated.” This wisdom was probably imparted by a grade schoolteacher or maybe my mom and it may sound cliché, but we all respond to being treated with respect and love.
Describe your typical morning routine.
I wake up and help get my kids dressed and out the door to school. Most mornings involve an oat milk latte and eggs, which helps kick-start my day. I’ll often take my middle guy to pre-school. And sometimes I manage to squeeze in a little workout before I open my computer and my workday begins. Most days I am working from home, but at least once or twice a week I manage to get out to the FEED Shop & Café in Brooklyn and take meetings there.
When you were in your 20s, what did you think you’d be doing now?
I probably thought I would be still building FEED, as I am. The part I probably didn’t anticipate as much is that I would also have three little boys at home keeping me busy when I’m not working. Life is very full right now!
How would you describe your style?
Classic, with a touch of bohemian.
Best book you’ve recently read?
“Between Two Kingdoms” by Suleika Jaouad.
Oat milk lattes, dark chocolate, and mystery shows via a streaming service (right now I am enjoying Yellowjackets, which is a bit dark, but so intriguing).
What beauty product could you not live without?
Clarins Hydrating Gentle Foam Cleanser, mineral sunscreen, and lip balm – I am honestly not super fussy with my beauty routine.