Member of one of the most powerful clans of American national politics, the model and entrepreneur shows that the major trend of the moment is to do the good.
Modeling for a Reason and a Cause
“Fashion, design and philanthropy have always been passions of mine. I came up with the idea for FEED during my college years”
Not the flashes nor the runways: Lauren Bush Lauren is also a beauty model, but the title fits her above all because of her work ethic and her social efforts. Granddaughter of George H. W. Bush and niece of George W. Bush, both former US presidents, the American native of Denver, Colorado, was one of the first entrepreneurs to adopt a social business model in the fashion world by creating the FEED project in 2007, which uses the sale of certain products to finance the distribution of food in regions suffering from hunger and malnutrition.
Graduated with degrees in design, photography, and anthropology, Lauren could gather all her talents and learning in this company to do good, which creates handbags, bandanas, bracelets, cups, and gift boxes based on the aesthetics of modern desire to make fashion consumption a great chain of good, since all items carry labels indicating how many donations will be made with the acquisition of that product. Until October 2017, the FEED initiative donated more than 100 million meals to different parts of the world and deserved all the awards and honors that Lauren received for her work, as well as proving in practice that working for society is the purest way of doing politics.
“Starting a new venture takes a village, so make sure that your village is made up of people you respect and can learn from and grow with along the way. Having that support system, whether it’s friends, mentors, or dedicated teammates is valuable for anyone.” Says Bush
You’ve studied fashion design, photography, and anthropology — how does it all come together in your work, especially the last one?
Fashion, design, and philanthropy have always been passions of mine. I came up with the idea for FEED during my college years. After witnessing the devastating effects of hunger and poverty first-hand while traveling with the UN World Food Programme, I knew I had to do more and create a tangible way for people to have an impact. I had studied and interned in fashion, and the idea of creating beautifully designed products that give back married both passions. Reusable totes were just gaining popularity as an eco-friendly alternative to paper or plastic, so the idea for the reversible FEED 1 Bag was really a lightbulb moment for me, with its design inspired by the burlap bag that the WFP uses to transport food
You go above and beyond to be and do good, were you always like this? When modeling, did you take in consideration the ethic of the brand you were modeling for?
When I began modeling, I always appreciated when the brand I was working for did good in someway. What really sparked my desire to start FEED was when I realized that there was something missing in the marketplace that I as a consumer wanted, a brand whose sole mission was to give back and make the world a better place.
We are now experiencing a boom of female designers in a world that used to be dominated by men. Why do you think this is happening? And how are you contributing to empowering more women to step in this business?
The fashion industry has always been lead by strong, creative women and I am happy to see more and more women in high-level positions across many industries. I do believe that there is still work to be done to get to an equal and fair place, but I think that my role as a woman in business is to lead by example and also cultivate the potential in younger women who are beginning their careers.
What was the biggest challenge FEED faced in the early days? How did you change its format to overcome it all?
As one of the first socially conscious brands, we spent a lot of time, in the beginning, educating people on what our business model was (and wasn’t) and what we were trying to achieve. It’s been great to see this become such a popular trend today, but in the beginning, there were just a few us! Finding the right cross section between business and cause was one of the most important decisions I made when launching FEED. I wanted to show people that hunger wasn’t an intangible problem and that everyone could make a difference.
What was the most valuable lesson you’ve learned in your life/career?
Starting a new venture takes a village, so make sure that your village is made up of people you respect and can learn from and grow along the way. The most important thing you can do when starting a business is to surround yourself with smart people who know a lot more than you do in certain realms. Having that support system, whether it’s friends, mentors, or capable and dedicated teammates and hopefully it’s all of the above is valuable for anyone.
How motherhood made you a better business woman?
Becoming a parent, which inevitably means obsessing over what you are feeding your child and how healthy and happy they are, has really brought the mission of FEED to life for me in a new way. I have met countless parents around the world who, because of difficult circumstances, just do not have the means to feed their kids what they need. This sad fact is all the more heartbreaking now that I am a mom myself and can really empathize with the burning desire almost every parent has to provide the very best for your kids.
Your family is known for being part of America’s politics — how did that shape who you are today? Because even though you haven’t run for a public position, you are active in the social work — FEED is a great example, right?
Politics to me have always been about public service and using your time, energy and resources to make a positive difference in the world – FEED has been a way for me to embody that.
Photos: Aline Velter