During the summer of 2000, Ryky Tran lived out of his car and survived off a packet of noodles a day.
If he was lucky, he could afford a burger, he said.
During this time, a friend took him out to dinner.
“It was a cheap $15 steak,” Tran said. “It was the best dinner I ever had.”
Ever since then, Tran has always wanted to help feed others who needed it.
Tran, now a fourth-year anthropology student, recently started his own nonprofit jeans company, Loyal Mission. The company partners with the Children’s Hunger Fund, a nonprofit organization that provides food and other resources to children around the world.
Through a program called “Buy 1 ““ Feed 1,” for every pair of jeans sold, Loyal Mission feeds a child for a year.
“Having been homeless and hungry myself, I know what it’s like for people to go hungry,” Tran said.
Tran approached CHF and expressed an interest to partner with them, said Janea Brown, marketing coordinator of CHF. The jeans are manufactured in downtown Los Angeles.
Tran dropped out of high school during his senior year and moved from Boston to Los Angeles, where he was homeless for two months. Things changed when he got picked up by a talent agency, he said.
When the casting director for Jet Li’s “The One” saw his photo, he was called in for a screen test. He said he was then cast as Jet Li’s double in the film and again for “Cradle to the Grave.”
After that, Tran decided to go into athletics. He was a full-time short-track speed skater, an Olympic sport, for four years.
At that point, he had the resources he needed to start his own company, something he has always wanted to do, he said.
Five years ago, he started his own bike company that built custom racing wheels and bikes for road bikers and triathletes, he said.
He has since closed the business to focus on Loyal Mission. His fiancee, Adrienne Carlson, said Tran developed the company on his own.
Although the number varies across different countries, it takes $14 on average to feed a person for a year through CHF, Tran said.
Besides the money used to keep up operational costs, most of the profits will be donated to CHF, Tran said.
Although Loyal Mission isn’t set to launch until spring, Tran said he has already received over 100 pre-orders.
“Lots of people out there have the effort and money to put toward a cause, but they don’t know where to go,” Tran said.
Loyal Mission allows people to give and get something in return, he said.
His friend Jimmy Mathew works as a consultant for the company. Mathew said he liked the idea of adding an element of outreach and helping others.
Tran said he did not start Loyal Mission to compete with other companies. He is doing it out of the belief that it is his life’s calling, he said.
“The people who benefit are those who the proceeds go to,” Tran said.