In 2013, PJ Brice and his wife saw actor and musician Jeff Bridges in concert in Santa Barbara, California. "He started the show by asking the audience, 'What did you do this afternoon?'" recalls Brice, who turned to his wife and mouthed something about changing diapers.
Bridges then said he'd spent his day volunteering at the Santa Barbara food bank and relayed some statistics about hunger: Forty-nine million Americans struggle with it each day. That shocked Brice, a buff Brit who came to the U.S. to play rugby but stayed to become the president of Allegro, which manufactured cosmetic and travel bags and was bought by Conair in 2007. He'd also been thinking about social entrepreneurship and watching Blake Mycoskie of Toms Shoes and Neil Blumenthal of Warby Parker, as he put it, "have a lot of fun building meaningful brands."
After leaving Conair in 2014, Brice took that route too and co-founded Cheeky Home, which makes colorful and whimsical disposable tableware. For each pack of Cheeky goods sold, the company donates 11 cents to Feeding America, a nonprofit that works with food banks and distributors to turn that modest sum into a meal. As of March, Cheeky had "allowed us to provide one million meals to families in need," says Nancy Curby, a Feeding America vice president.
Part of Cheeky's success--retail sales in its first year will exceed $20 million--comes from its partnership with Target, currently the sole retailer of the company's Pinterest-perfect plates, bowls, cups, and cutlery. "We took it to Target because they're remarkably progressive," Brice says. He saw a chance to perk up an often staid category.
"If you wanted to buy a pack of plates and go crazy, you either had a purple flower or a pink flower," he says. Cheeky has also been able to secure plum designer collaborations: Its first one, with French Bull, hits Target's shelves this month.
Indeed, while the iconic red Solo cup has its place (on a beer-pong table, perhaps), Cheeky's sharp designs seem appropriate for a dinner party--one that also brings food to the tables of those in need.