The Golden State native shares the sustainable products she’s loving and what she’s growing in her garden
Words by MARIE LOOK
“I grew up outdoors,” says Nikki Reed, the multihyphenate actor, screenwriter, singer/songwriter, designer and environmental activist. “We didn’t have a lot of money, so nature was our inspiration and place to play. I bounced back and forth between a crowded residential neighborhood and a tiny Venice home by the boardwalk.”
Reed, a native Californian started her sustainable apparel and accessories brand, BaYou With Love in 2017, but in her latest project, she is teaming up with lifestyle clothing brand UpWest. To coincide with Earth Month, the longtime environmental advocate and the comfy-casualwear label have designed a T-shirt capsule, the net proceeds of which will benefit, through June, the eco-minded nonprofit that bears the name of Reed’s husband, fellow actor Ian Somerhalder.
Made with fabric crafted from recycled bottles, the men’s and women’s tees feature statement-making slogans (such as “Don’t Trash My Mother”), come in relaxed fits in neutral colors, and will contribute in part to the Ian Somerhalder Foundation’s commitment to providing public outreach, education and grants in support of all things environmental, including climate issues.
We asked the entrepreneur to share some of the sustainable brands she can’t live without, what she’s currently growing in her garden at home, and her personal rituals for appreciating the natural world around her.
What ignited your passion for the environment?
It all started with animal rescue. I grew up in a household that welcomed any living thing, so we had a tremendous amount of love and compassion in our home. As I got older, I started to recognize the interconnection between humans, the earth and animals. It’s impossible to care about only one if you really think about it.
Do you have a personal ritual for expressing gratitude to Mother Earth?
I have quiet time with a cup or two of tea every morning. I try to take that time to set up my day, get organized and stay grateful. I have been going on nature walks with my little one every day, which always brings so much joy. Funny how we all feel better when we’re more connected to nature.
What do you appreciate most about this state’s natural beauty?
I have always loved animals, the outdoors, the ocean, hiking. Nature is the backbone of everything I create with my company, BaYou With Love, and through my photography for the company, I strive to find beauty in places we often overlook.
Are there other Californians championing the environment who inspire you?
My dear friend Shai Woodley is just a force. There is no one with her level of passion and commitment, and I’m inspired by her daily.
How much do you consider yourself a city girl?
I moved out of the city about six years ago, and it was the best choice I’ve ever made. It’s a lifestyle commitment, meaning you’re far away from everything, including work, but it’s worth the extra travel time. I want to be away from cell towers and 5G. I want to smell fresh air. I don’t miss the sounds of honking cars and sirens.
What are you growing in your home garden?
We have edible wildflowers in one box, and kale, chard, tomatoes and lettuce on the other side. We also have a few lemon trees and rosemary bushes, which smell so nice.
Is there a beach, hike or park you miss most right now?
I love every beach and hiking trail. When I was younger, I spent a lot of time with my brother, surfing at Point Dume Beach, but I haven’t been in years. I owe Point Dume a visit.
What attracted you to UpWest as a partner?
What they make is so beautiful. Cozy, comfy, outdoor-chic is my dream wardrobe. Diving a little deeper, I will say that at this stage in my life I only want to collaborate with brands who are morally aligned with my vision for a sustainable future in fashion. I love working with companies that strive to bring sustainability into their brand. I believe in progress, not perfection, and I think it is important for those of us who truly care about the planet to applaud incremental change. I think we can all learn from each other, and I really appreciate the UpWest team for caring so deeply about my need for recycled fabrics and materials in this collaboration.
What’s the philosophy behind the Ian Somerhalder Foundation?
The mission of the foundation is to empower our youth, and educate people to make changes in their lifestyle which will benefit the environment!
How does BaYou With Love practice sustainability?
We use all recycled gold, specifically recycled gold found in technology through our partnership with Dell. We produce everything in Los Angeles, so our carbon footprint is drastically reduced. We use a factory that recycles all of their water, which is huge for us. We are also conscious of our sourcing. We try to use stones only mined with sustainable practices, and we also give our customers the option to go with a diamond grown above ground using solar energy in California!
Which recent BaYou With Love item are you currently obsessed with?
Gah! Everything. But I am biased, because I design it all. I love the Gold Ball Huggies, because I am a sucker for an everyday piece you never have to take off. I love our textured wedding bands, and our Opal Drop Pendant Earrings.
What other accessories or clothing have you been staying comfortable in lately?
I LOVE the chambray set from UpWest! Perfect for lounging and sitting in front of my computer, writing. And BaYou With Love is gearing up to launch sustainable yoga apparel, so I’ve been living in that as well!
How about sustainable brands for children, or for pets?
In addition to the BaYou With Love organic baby clothes we launched last year, my go-to’s include Summer & Storm, and 12|12! Found My Animal is my favorite line for pets!
Which skincare, haircare or cosmetics brands do you rely on?
I love Plantfolk, Beautycounter and Poppy & Someday. I love being able to pronounce all of the ingredients in the products I put on my face and body! I subscribe to the belief that we should be as conscious of skin’s health as we are of our internal health. People have started prioritizing eating local or organic when they can, which is amazing, but I think we should also consider what we are putting on our skin as well!
What are other ways to keep the environment in mind when online shopping?
Shopping local is one great way to consider the planet. Also searching for brands that use eco-friendly packaging, or even better, no inside packaging! You can also write to your favorite online retailers with ideas for how to minimize waste!
What are your must-have household products?
I use vinegar for almost everything cleaning-related. I also love adding essential oils to water for the added benefits as well as scent. I love a linen company called Dazed But Amazed for my bedding. The founder [Jes Saddington] is amazing, and her hand-dyed linens are spectacular. I make my own candles using old ceramic cups my grandmother made when she was still working as a ceramicist. I love repurposing vintage pieces.
Any other eco-conscious habits at home?
I’m conscious of water, so I don’t leave the tap running as I wash dishes. I do all of our laundry on speed cycle. Composting is big in this household! We shop from a local farm for all veggies, which helps minimize plastic use! And of course we bring our own bags!
Feature image: NIKKI REED. Photo courtesy of UpWest.
April 22, 2020
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