CNBC Meets

Lauren Bush Lauren: We donate a ‘substantial’ amount

Niece of former U.S. President George W. Bush, Lauren Bush Lauren, said her social business FEED gives a significant amount to charity, but quantifies the donations "in terms of meals", rather than as a percentage of profits.

Bush Lauren founded FEED - which sells bags, accessories and apparel – in 2007. She described the company as a "give-back business", with donations built into the cost of each product.

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Lauren Bush Lauren and David Lauren attend the 'Charles James: Beyond Fashion' Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Mike Coppola I Getty Images

Rather than divulge the percentage of profits that go to charity, Bush Lauren said the group prefers to talk in terms of meals. Each product sold pays for a certain number of meals through partnerships with the World Food Programme and Feeding America.

"I could say a percentage of profits to proceeds but I feel that consumers don't quite understand, and rightfully so, what that is doing," she told CNBC Meets' Tania Bryer. "I wanted to tell consumers it's not a percentage of profits of proceeds – you are giving exactly 100 meals – you are feeding one child in school for a year. It makes it more tangible."

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Every FEED product has a number, which signifies the number of meals or the amount of children that will be fed from the purchase. The FEED 1 bag was the first product designed by Bush Lauren, and each bag provides enough meals to feed one child in school for one year.

"For every bag sold we need to pay salaries, keep lights on in this office. But for us it is really about building in that large substantial donation - that really will give back," Bush Lauren added.

When she launched FEED, Bush Lauren said companies and partners that she wanted to work with did not understand the company's business model, as they always assumed the project was strictly non-profit.

"Even my own accountant didn't understand our model – we were giving so much of our profits away we were acting more like a non-profit business, yet we are a for-profit business," she said.

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Bush Lauren said that although, now, people understand social entrepreneurism, in 2007 they didn't.

"I am now very proud of that, we helped lead the charge of this conscious consumerism, social business movement," she added.

CNBC Meets: Lauren Bush Lauren will air on 17 December at 23:00 CET