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Features

SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

A Profile of SHARON and LAUREN BUSH

By Lori Zimmer

December 2011

Sharon Bush and I have been playing phone tag. The ex of Neil Bush, mother of Lauren, has been shuttling between New York and Rhode Island, celebrating the success of her charity Teddy Share Bear, which recently collaborated with daughter Lauren’s charity line, FEED Projects. I finally got in touch with a raspy-voiced Sharon, fighting a cold on the heels of a hectic Teddy Share promotion schedule and a holiday party for Plumpy’nut, the peanut-based super nutrient that Teddy Share distributes to hungry and malnourished children of the world.

Charity has always been a central focus for the Bush household. When Sharon’s kids were young, she worked as a teacher in inner city schools, and then headed the charity KARITAS, which means “giving and sharing” in Latin. The family would spend each Christmas handing out gifts to sick kids in hospitals–Sharon even dressed as Mrs. Claus. Growing up in a world of not only privilege, but with security and Secret Service surrounding them due to the kids’ President grandfather and Uncle George, it was extremely important to Sharon to instill a sense of reality to them, and teach them about life outside the bubble.

Sharon and the kids spent countless hands-on hours volunteering at soup kitchens, having the kids paint faces at shelter holiday parties, and over all making them present to keep them grounded, rather than just throwing money blindly at a charity. This early influence is evident in the direction that both Sharon and Lauren have taken in their lives–Sharon with Teddy Share Bear and Lauren with her popular FEED bags, which relieve world hunger, as well as her ethical clothing line, Lauren Pierce.

Seemingly tireless, Sharon has also created a downloadable cook book that also supports world hunger charities. But her main focus is the launch of the Teddy Share bears, which can be seen online or at Bergdorf’s. She recently partnered with designers Cynthia Rowley, Rachel Roy, Nicole Miller, and Vena Cava, auctioning designer-created bears, and has created Teddy for 2 Bear (dedicated to Teddy Bear’s nomenclature Teddy Roosevelt), which not only helps  feed kids with Plumpy’nut, but also gives an additional bear to a needy kid at the Ronald McDonald House for Christmas. Lauren’s Feed Bags are a perfect vessel for the fashion conscious to show their support for charity, but Sharon’s bears are geared toward teaching children about the importance of charity in their lives, starting the lesson young, with the bear as a tactile reminder.

Together, the women are an inspiring force of creativity, drive, and altruism.

After speaking for a bit with Sharon on the phone, I was able to have the following exchange via email with her daughter Lauren.

Lauren, who just married Ralph Lauren’s son David, has left the world of modeling to pursue her design career, pushing her FEED line to include bags, bears, and other merchandise, and collaborations with other designers to get the message to as many people as possible.

Lori Zimmer: The whole concept of FEED is so amazing and inspiring–a way to turn every woman’s love of handbags into a vessel to help the world. Did you think it would develop into the foundation it is now when you first designed a bag back in 2006?

Lauren Bush: I am very happy and somewhat amazed with where FEED is now!  It has been an amazing journey so far, powered by individuals who want to do good and feed those in need through their consumer dollars!

LZ: I love the “grading” system that your bags use–FEED 1 feeds one child, in increasing increments. How did you come up with this system?

LB: Each bag or product having a different number which signifies a different donation was always part of the idea. It allows consumers to participate at different price points, which is part of FEED’s mission.

LZ: FEED has already provided almost 67 million meals (as the handy counter on the FEED website told me). What do you see for the future of FEED? Do you hope to even further expand? Are there anymore FEED collaborations coming up?

LB: I believe there is a lot more FEED will do in the future, including expanding on smart partnerships and collaborations. Our goal is to give at least another 100 million meals in the next 5 years.

LZ: Do you have any plan to design a sustainable fashion line?

LB: I actually do have a little line out called Lauren Pierce which is made from artisan and eco-friendly fabrics.

LZ: I have to ask (as I was a teen of the 90s!) what was it like to intern on the iconic Friends?

LB: It was such a fun experience!  I was such a fan of the show and then to be able to see all the inner-workings was such a treat.

LZ:  What is your favorite FEED bag?

LB: That is a very hard question. I guess I would have to say the FEED 1 bag, which was the original bag that started it all.

Sharon Bush is an avid supporter of charities world wide, and a great mom.

Lauren Bush is a model, designer, and socially and eco conscious entrepreneur. Her mother taught her well.

LINKS:

Teddy Share

FEED Projects

Sharon and Lauren Bush interviewed by Lori Zimmer

Written by Lori Zimmer

Edited by Meaghan Coffey

Photography by Patrick McMullan & Co. for PatrickMcMullan.com

Design by Marie Havens

Captions:

Page 1/Cover:

Lauren Bush & Sharon Bush, FEED Partners with GILT CITY and URBAN ZEN to Host the Fourth Annual FEED-Raiser & Market, Urban Zen, NYC, December 14, 2011, Photography by Andrew Toth for Patrick McMullan.com

Page 2:

Lauren Bush, Third Annual FEED-raiser and market to benefit the children of Haiti, hosted by Lauren Bush and co-sponsored by Gilt City and Urban Zen, Urban Zen, NYC, December 14, 2010, Photography by Will Ragozzino for Patrick McMullan.com

Page 3:

Lauren Bush, Third Annual FEED-raiser and market to benefit the children of Haiti, hosted by Lauren Bush and co-sponsored by Gilt City and Urban Zen, Urban Zen, NYC, December 14, 2010, Photography by Will Ragozzino for Patrick McMullan.com

Page 4:

Lauren Bush, Third Annual FEED-raiser and market to benefit the children of Haiti, hosted by Lauren Bush and co-sponsored by Gilt City and Urban Zen, Urban Zen, NYC, December 14, 2010, Photography by Will Ragozzino for Patrick McMullan.com

Page 5:

Lauren Bush & Sharon Bush, FEED Partners with GILT CITY and URBAN ZEN to Host the Fourth Annual FEED-Raiser & Market, Urban Zen, NYC, December 14, 2011, Photography by Andrew Toth for Patrick McMullan.com

Page 6:

Sharon Bush, Ashley Bush, & Lauren Bush, Erica Domesek Bear, Susan Rockefeller Bear, Vena Cava Bear, J.McLaughlin, Sharon Bush, and Lauren Bush Lauren Host Designer FEED Bears Event, J.McLaughlin Lexington Avenue, NYC, December 7, 2011, Photography by Ryan McCune for Patrick McMullan.com

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