How do you run a successful business from the heart (and not the pocketbook)?
FEED was founded on heart and still runs primarily on heart. Although finances are, of course, very important to continue to run and scale a successful venture, I believe it is the heart that helps guide us in keeping the brand fresh, authentic, and continuing our mission to help feed as many people as we possibly can.
What brands are doing a good job of influencing people to do better?
GOOD is a wonderful social platform and magazine that is helping to influence and inspire people to do better. TOMS has had such a great impact in spreading the conscious consumerism movement. Krochet Kids is also a favorite of mine, employing women in Africa and Peru to hand-crochet hats and scarves, while giving each woman credit for her work.
What would you say to other CEOs/social entrepreneurs to encourage them to pursue their passions?
Everyone’s journey is so different, so I find it hard to give specific advice. But I would say if you have a unique vision for something that would make the world a better place, you really have nothing to lose to make a go of it. The worst that can happen is that you learn a lot and perhaps have to evolve your idea to something else that might even be better than your initial idea. Believe in yourself and your vision, but also resign yourself to the journey.
If your brand were a person from history, who would it be?
FEED is a cross between Mother Theresa, Richard Branson, and Rosie the Riveter.
How is your brand a reflection of you and your values?
FEED is a reflection of me in many ways—of my design aesthetic, my idea of how to do business and do good for the world, but more importantly FEED is a reflection of my values in that I believe we should all be doing what we can to address one of the greatest issues our world faces: hunger.
If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title should be?
As of now, maybe “FEED Soul: The Journey of an Idealistic Do-gooder, Social Entrepreneur, and Bag Peddler.” But I have much more to do in my life, so this title will hopefully continue to grow and evolve.
Pancakes or waffles?
Buckwheat and blueberry pancakes. However this sparks an idea: why not combine pancakes and waffles, as they have done with croissants and donuts in to the famous ‘cronut’, and call it the “panaffles” or “wacakes”?!
What mantra do you run your business by?
I have a few. Love what you do, live what you love; surround yourself with good, hardworking people you respect; and strive to make a difference along the way.
Tell us about the culture at FEED.
The culture at FEED is really wonderful. I have the most amazing team of hardworking, dedicated FEEDers. FEED is a very rigorous place to work, but also very human and understanding. I don’t mind if folks work from home occasionally or take extra time off to be with family and friends. As long as they are getting the job done, I want everyone to feel they lead happy lives, in and out of work.
What’s your personal favorite FEED product?
This is very hard to say, as they are all my children. But I would probably have to pick the FEED 1 bag, since it is the first bag I designed that started FEED. I think if that bag were not so special, FEED would not be what it is today.
You inspire a lot of people. Who inspires you?
So many people inspire me. One person who inspired me very early in my career (at the time FEED was just an idea) was Mohammed Yunus. He took the simple and brilliant idea of giving loans to the poorest of the poor, and turned it into one of the most effective poverty fighting tools of our time—micro-credit. I love when simple ideas like that can scale and have a real and lasting impact on people’s lives.
Favorite place in the world (for a FEED product):
Do you think we’re in charge of our own happiness?
Yes, every day we wake up and choose our happiness. The worst feeling in the world is to feel disempowered. We co-create our reality through who we choose to spend time with and how we choose to spend our time and resources. The more conscious we are of this simple truth, the happier we can be.