Former model and granddaughter to President George H.W. Bush and the late First Lady Barbara Bush, Lauren created FEED Projects to help end global hunger after serving as a World Food Programme spokesperson.
It was in places like Cambodia, Chad and Guatemala the humanitarian witnessed the devastating marks of hunger, specifically on children and how starvation shaped not only their health, but also their education and economic well-being.
Lauren believed that creating fair-labor and fashionable products would engage shoppers in a tangible way to end hunger and that a real impact could be made. So, in 2007 she launched FEED with her signature burlap bag, fashioned after the food rations bag delivered by the WFP. The line has grown into everything from candles to more high-end totes, but each product still has a number stamped on it to signify the amount of meals or micronutrient packets provided to hunger-stricken communities.
And this holiday season, the former Houstonian’s line will be making its Houston debut at the River Oaks boutique Saint Cloud. The pop-up will feature several best sellers, new fall items and a limited edition Houston City Tote. Every Houston bag purchased will provide five meals to the Houston Food Bank.
What led you to partner with the Houston Food Bank for this pop-up event at Saint Cloud?
We wanted to help fight hunger locally with our exclusive Houston tote. Feeding America has been a longtime partner of ours, through our FEED Supper initiative. It felt natural for us to work with them to identify local food bank partners in each market, so that we could not only continue to make a U.S. impact, but a hyper local one. We’ll also be holding community volunteering events with the Houston Food Bank, so that locals can get involved on a deeper level.
What do you think makes Houston unique in terms of giving?
I have always found my fellow Houstonians to be incredibly warm and giving. From local causes to global ones, Houston natives seem to have a great mixture of Southern community spirit and a broad-mindedness that comes with being from a big city that is multicultural and welcoming. I saw this come to life during Hurricane Katrina and then again last year during Hurricane Harvey.
When did you start to feel a shift in people not just buying a bag because it looks chic, but because of the good it can do?
To this day, every one of our products has a number stamped on it that signifies the amount of meals provided with purchase and we love seeing customers share their personal total for meals donated through their FEED purchases… Consumers gravitate towards FEED not just because they love the utilitarian chic and functional styles, but because the mission is incredibly important to them. We see our customers taking a stand through their purchases and I think this is a shift we’re seeing across the landscape.
FEED is also hosting the Houston event “Women on a Mission.” Who will be there?
At the Women on a Mission panel on December 6, attendees can expect a panel conversation featuring local Houston business owners and entrepreneurs, discussing women’s empowerment, workplace inequality, success stories, self care and more. The event will be live-streamed via FEED’s Instagram for anyone who can’t make it to the store.
Tell us more about the inspiration behind FEED’s gorgeous new fall collection.
It was designed with both fashion and function in mind, offering a range of products that are perfect for wherever our customers are headed, whatever field they may work in. Field to us means so many things – it harkens back to our mission and the on-the-ground partners we work with in the field and it also means simply wherever you work, live and thrive. The collection includes a go-anywhere canvas backpack, our first-ever Lunch Box, and the return of our Monogram Shop. We also re-launched our very special leather FEED 1 Bag.
To date we have provided over 103 million meals. As FEED continues to expand, we are focusing on product innovation, creative retail channels, grassroots initiatives and dynamic programming to provide new tangible experiences and opportunities for people to make a daily impact in the fight against global hunger. While we have come a long way and have definitely made a difference, there’s always so much more to do!
Emily Bond is a published writer and editor from Houston. She is also the Co-Director of the nonprofit Healing Species of Texas, an organization that teaches character education in schools with rescue dogs.