Former model turned entrepreneur and philantrhopist, Lauren Bush Lauren is 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.
When you launched Feed in 2007, were you already in involved in the World Food Program?
Yes the idea came to me while being involved as a student spokesperson so I was able to travel and see a lot of their operations. It was an organic idea I had in order to support the work I saw in the field.
Do all bags start off as an exclusive collaboration with a specific retailer?
We had the most success with that. Then it can became something you can purchase on our site and later in other stores. For example, we launched on Amazon which was the first FEED 1 bag and now they all sell on our own site. The whole foods bag sold at whole foods but now we sell on our site and we wholesale to different places as well.
Where are some of the places they wholesale?
ABC Home, Colette in Paris, we have a random assortment.
How did the Judith Lieber collaboration come about?
It came about when I was nominated for the ACE awards, where I received the humanitarian award. Judith Lieber was a sponsor that year, being a part of that they approached us and thought we were a match made and approached me about doing a collaboration. It’s another demographic that may not carry a burlap bag.
Where can these be purchased, are they more expensive then some of the other bags?
They are selling at Judith Lieber and Bergdorf’s. They are our most expensive bag retailing at $495, the most expensive bag before that was around $200. The bag we started with was $60.
Are bags produced in countries they are supporting? Are they made with local artisans?
Some are and some are not. The Guatemala bags are, they are made from fabrics that are hand woven in Guatemala and sewn there. Most are done the typical way in china but we are doing more and more artisan made products.
Is the company not for profit?
We have both; we are a for profit company that give most of our profits away and we have a non profit as well which is the Feed Foundation. The goal is to raise as much as much money as we can whether thru the sale of feed products or traditional fund raising.
How many of the countries have you been to that your organization supports? What are the differences you see when you travel?
About ten or so, maybe a bit more. It’s always a learning experience. I love the artisan stuff so it’s neat to go and see it hands on and learn more about that process. Learning about what programs are working, what’s not working. We do want to support not just food aid but more strategic programs, each country is so complicated and different. The program we mostly support is school feeding which is getting kids educated and providing school meals so it is sustainable and has many benefits to it. There are a lot of development programs happening – some of them are not as effective. We are trying to support the ones that are most effective in fighting hunger.
Do you do all of the designing, is their influence from a specific place?
Yes, I do all the designing, my aesthetic is more rustic, different, and unique but when doing an artisan bag it’s about pulling what’s special about that place.
Do you feel your studies at Parsons or Central Saint Martin’s has influenced at all?
Yes, but I would say I am not a designer in that sense
Are you already planning your next collaboration? What is the goal for the retailer?
Yes. There’s always something. They are looking for a way to give back, to allow their customer to give back.
Is the Lauren Pierce collection similar to the Feed collection in that it is a collaboration with select retailers?
Not really we’ve done an exclusive collection with Barneys and calypso (launching in early July). We did that one season, it was called, The Atelier, people came in and chose the dress silhouette they wanted, fabric they wanted. No two are the same but the same silhouette in different colors. That was really fun and interactive.
Where are the fabrics produced for the Lauren Pierce collection?
They are hand dyed by women in the Congo which is one of the worst off places in the world. For these women it’s their livelihood and really highlights their amazing work. Each season the collection is done with these materials, it’s really their creative expression. We’ve done fall dresses where the dyes are darker but it is primarily a resort spring summer collection.