5 Minutes with… Lauren Bush Lauren

Lauren Bush Lauren is the CEO, creative director, and co-founder of FEED, a mission-driven company that creates and sells FEED-branded canvas bags, bears, T-shirts, and other accessories to benefit charities that help feed hungry children around the world. Bush Lauren was inspired to found the company in 2006, after working abroad with the United Nations World Food Programme. Bush Lauren also co-founded the FEED Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness and funds to ensure nutritious school meals for children in need around the world. The former model is the granddaughter of former President George H.W. Bush and niece of former President George W. Bush. She was named one of Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs in 2009. Daria Meoli recently asked Bush Lauren about the benefits and challenges of running a mission-driven business.

DM: What are the benefits for a mission-driven company over a non-profit organization?

LB: The benefit of being a social enterprise versus a non-profit is that we do not need to rely on donations to do good; instead, FEED is able to incorporate giving back into doing business. We do have a nonprofit as well, the FEED Foundation, in case people want to donate money beyond purchasing FEED products. We have seen an incredible benefit in having both the for-profit and non-profit working in tandem to raise money and awareness for hunger issues worldwide.

DM: What was your greatest challenge in starting up?

LB: There were many challenges in starting FEED, namely that people did not understand the idea of a for-profit company that gives away most of its profits. Since then, more and more social enterprises have cropped up and it is more of an accepted notion. That, along with the many challenges of developing and growing a small business and brand, but that is also the fun part!

DM: What advice do you have for entrepreneurs who are struggling with their own mission-driven business?

LB: My advice is to simply believe in your mission and your unique idea and give it a go. The hardest part is getting started, but it is just about getting the ball rolling and putting one foot in front of the other. It is also extremely important to evolve. There is a delicate and important balance between staying very true to your mission, but also keeping an open mind as new partners and new opportunities come into play that may positively enhance your brand in a way you didn’t imagine at the company’s inception.