In Conversation With Nikki Reed
THE OUTNET’S Head of Content, Claudia Mahoney, got to speak with actor and Founder of sustainable jewelry brand Bayou with Love, Nikki Reed. In case you missed their live conversation about juggling life in the new normal, her essential pieces and maintaining a balance — we made sure to save some of the best bits…
“I try to stick with layering pieces and neutral pieces so that everything can have a couple of different lives. I like to just layer and keep everything pretty simple and pretty cozy and, I like to go with cozy-chic, I guess!”
Claudia: It’s such a pleasure to meet you now and thank you so, so much for giving up your time to THE OUTNET this evening on International Women’s Day! So, happy International Women’s Day to you first of all!
Nikki: Happy International Women’s Day to you, too! Thank you for having me, you know I’m a huge fan.
Claudia: I’m going to kick off by saying that I don’t want to pigeonhole you but also describe what a multi-hyphenate, multi-talented person you are from a writer, an actor, a producer, a singer, a songwriter, an entrepreneur, you have a sustainable jewelry business — how do you have enough hours in the day?
Nikki: That’s very sweet of you. You know, I don’t! I’m figuring out the juggle and the balance like everybody else in this new normal that we’re all in. I’m very fortunate, I’ve had a long career that’s taken many forms and I definitely haven’t been shy about trying new things, finding things that I’m passionate about and exploring them with all of my heart and soul. I’ve definitely done quite a few things and I’ve found myself here and the interesting thing is, I do find that they all overlap a bit. I’ve been asking ‘do I feel like I’ve left one career for another?’ and in a weird way I kind of feel like there’s just such a strong overlap and I’m more of an artist now and more creatively fulfilled now than I was even 10 years ago.
Claudia: Doing my research, the word that kept coming up was authentic, and your authenticity about the projects you take on. How do you choose the work? Has it got to speak to your heart?
Nikki: So, I was told I couldn’t really build a brand without being ‘here’s me all the time, here’s what I look like Me, me, me, me, me.’ And that just wasn’t a part of my brand and I was trying to figure out the balance of what I use social media for and what I consider brand building is building a message and not just sharing about yourself but sharing the things that you see, the things that you love.
Claudia: I see that you’ve gone kind of off-grid, and the UK still being in lockdown, digital is like the gateway to still making these connections but you can obviously resist the temptation of your phone and put it away, can you?
Nikki: Again, I’m in the same boat of trying to figure out how to work and run a company and you’re tethered to your devices. I think as society puts in boundaries that will cater to a more balanced lifestyle, maybe we’ll all be able to take part in that and for now you’re just expected to be on-call 24/7 and catching up on emails the night before so maybe you cannot wake up at 4:30am to play catch-up and maybe you’ll stay in bed working until 10 or 11 at night. But something I try to instill in my company from the top down is reminding everybody that we have to take time to be human beings and we don’t have to be so, so, so connected at any given moment. It’s ok to go a few months without speaking to somebody and then when you do, make it meaningful, pick up the phone and call. I think the one thing we’ve all learned from this year is that connection is everything, community is everything. I mean, that’s what we’ve got on this planet, at the end of the day, that’s all we’ve got, our memories, where we spent our time, and where we put our energy and I don’t want my energy going into a phone.
Claudia: You’re so right. And your health is your wealth, we’ve all really learnt that. And I have really cherished this forced-pause in a way. What positive have you taken out of this experience?
Nikki: I think this year gave a lot of perspective to people and brought out the best and worst in people. I will say that holding a phone 24 hours a day does disrupt you energetically. And we’re living in other people’s lives and we’re living in what looks better on the other side of a screen, that disrupts who we are. I think we’re gonna look back in 5 years, in 10 years and think ‘I could have spent my time on walks and put this away and really been present. But I was so wound up and so unable to.’ So I think we are all navigating this together, there are more challenges for some than others, more tragedy. For some people this has been a really positive experience for others this has been a horrendous experience. The bottom line is, it’s disrupted and changed our flow and I think we have to step back and recognize what we can learn from it.
Claudia: Absolutely. So, you were talking about business leaders and International Women’s Day — you are a successful business leader and obviously a woman as well. Tell us a little about the story of your brand and how it came about and what it represents to you?
Nikki: So, BaYou was born out of this desire to find things that I couldn’t find in the marketplace. I’ve always been a doer and it’s real hard for me to sit still. I was newly pregnant, and I was looking for all the things… I’ve always been very conscious of what I put in my body, but am I thinking about what I put on my body? Sustainable for me has always meant creating one product that serves many different purposes. I think you can produce in the most sustainable way possible, I think you can be conscious of materials you use, where you produce, how you produce but at the end of the day less is the only way we’re actually going to move forward.
Claudia: I think the mistake that people also tend to make is that if something is sustainable, it’s going to potentially be plain and not as beautiful. But, again, you challenged that misconception with all of your designs.
Nikki: Well, I wanted to create a world where we could shatter the misconception that sustainable or recycled meant ‘used.’ I think for the longest time we’ve gotten accustomed to something sustainable being like hemp or woven grass and there are some beautiful products in that space, but I think it’s important to speak to a wider demographic. There are people that don’t want to compromise in terms of luxury for sustainability. When you design with beauty in mind, I think that the message becomes a bonus, rather than leading with message and mission.
Claudia: So, we’re obviously a multi-brand luxury fashion retailer and we’re stocking past-season, beautiful clothes. So, I guess we have on some level a claim to be part of that circular economy and extending the life of the garment, but I think the answer is to sell better. Encourage women to invest in clothes that you know you’re going to cherish and love, always. So, what pieces do you have in your wardrobe that make you feel amazing?
Nikki: I will just say that I love that you guys are stocking past-collections and past-seasons because I think that that’s gonna be a huge shift in the fashion industry. It used to be this seasonal calendar, right? Like just when that collection finished, you’re gearing up to watch the next! But, basically, I’m wearing it. This is basically it. I try to stick with layering pieces and neutral pieces so that everything can have a couple of different lives. My challenge within myself is how can I take one article of clothing and transform it into 10 different looks, I try to do that for red carpets, events and just for life. But I like to just layer and keep everything pretty simple and pretty cozy and, I like to go with cozy-chic, I guess!
Claudia: Cozy chic is where it’s at this year. So, you’re famously vegan and I know you have a lot of furry and feathered friends — do you apply that to the clothes that you wear?
Nikki: I love that you wanna talk about this. I love Nanushka, I love Stella McCartney. So, I’m not vegan, but I am plant-based. I don’t eat meat and I don’t eat dairy, but right when I discovered the health benefits of not eating meat and what that did for me personally, I wanted everything vegan, and I wanted to talk about how being vegan was the way. But it’s about harmony, it’s about creating a space for people to do better and want to do better. Activism has to be about bridging gaps.
Claudia: I think you’re quite heroic to have come through with such a solid set of values and to be such an authentic person having had to face growing up in the full glare of the tabloid press. That is no mean feat to now be living such a life of compassion.
Nikki: Well, we have a moral responsibility as public figures to be kind and compassionate. If you’re speaking to millions of people at the press of a button, please make sure you know what you’re saying, that it’s truthful, that it’s kind and that it doesn’t spark hatred. That’s the big one that I think a lot people who have a tremendous amount of social influence don’t necessarily understand yet. You can do and say things in a way that sparks hatred in people and that it’s also your responsibility to do better. I try to say this to my plant-based followers. If you want to come onto my page and talk about what you’re passionate about, please do so in a way that’s not disrespectful to other people and their views. I don’t want people on my page having wars with each other on different things.
Claudia: You’re creating a space that’s reflective of your values, and Nikki that is basically the perfect message for us to end on. We’re so, so grateful to you for giving us your time and being so candid and true to yourself. And I wanna thank you for using your platform for good, for positivity and especially on International Women’s Day, that’s just the perfect message. So, thank you for your time. I’ve really, really, really enjoyed talking to you and getting to know you a little bit. It has been really, really lovely.
Nikki: Thank you and thanks for having me, I really appreciate it.