It is always inspiring when someone is able to mix all their talents for a bigger purpose. Besides being a model and fashion designer, activist Lauren Bush Lauren is an advocate for a cause very dear to her heart: the United Nations World Food Programme's (WFP) School Feeding program. WFP's School Feeding program feeds and educates hungry children. In 2006, Lauren designed a the FEED 1 bag, a reversible burlap and organic cotton bag reminiscent of the bags of food distributed by WFP, to help raise funds and awareness around these school feeding operations. It was stamped with “FEED the children of the world” and the number ‘1’ to signify that each bag feeds one child in school for one year. Lauren is now the CEO, Creative Director and Co-Founder of FEED Projects, as well as the Chairman of the Board and Co-Founder of the FEED Foundation. What started out as the FEED 1 bag has spiraled into an entire collection of bags and clothing, all with the purpose of benefiting the WFP. To date, FEED has been able to raise enough money through the sale of products to provide over 60 million school meals to children around the world through WFP.
Enjoy our Q&A with Lauren as she discusses FEED and her advice to getting involved in charitable organizations. Be sure to shop FEED's line of bags here and spread the word about this remarkable cause!
CollegeFashionista: Can you briefly describe the mission of FEED and what inspired you to start the organization?
Lauren Bush Lauren: FEED's mission is to create good products that help FEED the world. I was inspired to create the first FEED bag when I was in college, after traveling the world with the World Food Programme (WFP) as a student spokesperson. In countries like Guatemala and Chad, I saw the WFP's school feeding program in action: children are fed a free, nutritious meal every day, which encourages families living in poverty to send their children to school. It's a simple concept, and it works. I came back wanting to create a tangible and meaningful way to engage my peers in the fight against hunger and to support school meal programs; thus, the FEED 1 Bag was born!
CF: What role does fashion play in your organization and how do you adapt your approach to reach the fashion community?
LBL: Fashion plays a pretty big role at FEED since we use design as our method for raising awareness about hunger. I've found that the fashion community is incredibly philanthropic and wants to help create products that give back; over the years we've partnered with Kenneth Cole, Tory Burch, and DKNY- and we have a collaboration with Rachel Roy coming out next spring. It's fun to interpret the FEED aesthetic with each of these designers, be it a black FEED tote bag for DKNY or vibrant woven straps on a burlap bag for Tory Burch x Holt Renfrew.
CF: What is the most important thing for people to know about the communities FEED helps with their products?
LBL: We help feed children in 62 of the poorest countries around the world, and every one of those communities wants their children to be able to grow and thrive and get the food and nutrition they need. In even the darkest circumstances, there is a lot of hope for a better future.
CF: What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
LBL: Creating products that give back and that also engage a corps of customers around such an important cause. In just the last five years, FEED has provided nearly 60 million school meals to children around the world. I get chills whenever I say that.
CF: What advice do you have for college students looking to work with charities like FEED?
LBL: Be persistent! If you want to work with charitable organizations like FEED, don't be afraid to cold email them to introduce yourself and send a resume for an internship or job opportunity. Often times, these organizations are very swamped, and a stand-out email goes a long way toward getting your foot in the door.
CF: Having provided over 60 million meals to children worldwide, you've well exceeded your initial goal of one million. What's next? Do you have any specific hopes for FEED's future?
LBL: We recently launched a lifestyle blog, Beyond the Bag, which is a way for us to share content that inspires us and the “behind the scenes” stories at FEED as we grow.
Looking forward, I'm excited about projects on the horizon that will expand FEED's brand beyond bags and accessories. My hope is that FEED becomes a household name, synonymous with good design that gives back.
CF: FEED now offers much more than the original tote. Do you have a favorite FEED product this season?
LBL: It's always so hard to choose, but I'm currently carrying our FEED 1 Gray Bag (a refresh of our first-ever bag) and our new FEED Kenya Messenger (with beautiful beading by our artisans in Kenya).