Nikki Reed on Farm Life, Quiet Time and Prioritizing It All

Nikki Reed may live on a farm surrounded by animals, but that doesn’t mean life isn’t hectic.

“Things are busy,” the 35-year-old shares on a Monday afternoon. “I don’t want to glorify the overworking culture, but work doesn’t seem to stop on the weekends these days!”

A recent mom-of-two—Reed and husband Ian Somerhalder welcomed a baby boy over the summer and share a six-year-old daughter—the actress, activist, singer-songwriter and designer is best known for her roles in Thirteen and the Twilight Saga, but these days, she is laser-focused on steering the ship of her lifestyle brand, BaYou With Love, a sustainable line of jewelry, apparel, home and beauty. (She is so committed to the recycling-reuse cause that she even brings some of her grandmother’s clothing to this photo shoot and, in pure low-key fashion, insists on doing her own hair and makeup.)

That doesn’t mean Hollywood has stopped calling: When we speak, Common Ground, a documentary about climate change that Somerhalder narrates and Reed executive produced, just had its Academy screening, with Demi Moore serving as host.

“To me, it’s about merging all worlds,” she shares. “Nothing is exclusive. Everything is inclusive. It’s not like someone is one thing or another—it’s not really doable to use everything natural or be 100-percent one thing. There’s room be human in all of it.”

Photography by John Russo

How is life now that you have two kids?

Let me tell you, life is so busy and so wonderful. But life has gotten incredibly busy, and it doesn’t look like it’s slowing down any time soon. I feel like every time I say, “This is the year of slowdown,” things just rev up! There are so many things that are so important all at the same time, right?

Right now, raising babies is the most important thing for me. Then, Ian and I have an incredible documentary called Common Ground that is also of peak importance—Demi Moore hosted the screening for it, which was really wonderful. We also have a company we’re launching that is going to market in January. And then I have my business and holidays are always hectic with that. Literally, everything is all hitting at the same time, and everything is important.

Will you be able to take time off during the holidays?

From December 22 until right before New Year’s, I always can take off, which is great. I work through every other major holiday, as does my husband. Isn’t that wild? We like what we do, but there is a lot of work that goes into it.

Photography by John Russo

And, nowadays, you are living the “farm life.” Does that help you get more work done?

I’m an aspiring farmer—literally. I wish I could give it all up to live in nature with the animals. I’m sort of pulled between two worlds, which is the life of a crazy-busy businesswoman, and then someone who really wants to create that quiet time. I guess it’s fair to say that one feeds the other. Without that time and nature and animals and tranquility, I don’t know how we can do the rest of what we’re doing. Animals and nature are my peace. That’s where I thrive.

There’s room to be human in all of it.

Nikki Reed

That sounds like the best of both worlds. I know your jewelry line is a big part of your business portfolio. How did that come to fruition and what’s next for it?

Wow, the beginning! That was already seven years ago, which seems like a crazy number to me. I was pregnant with my daughter, and I was searching for things in the marketplace that I couldn’t find—all the things that you only start to look for when you’re about to have a baby…the organic underwear, the clean deodorant, all the things that we finally start thinking about when we’re carrying another life.

Today, those things are a bit easier to access, but believe it or not, seven years ago, when we were looking for organic underwear, people were looking at you cross-eyed.

So, if you can’t find it, make it?

Yes! I was ready to create. I originally launched BaYou through a partnership with Anthropologie. I was obsessed with this idea that less is more—we need less things, less waste, less everything. It would constantly frustrate me that, as women, we are being marketed to buy products that had either a short shelf life, a quick turnaround, or a tremendous amount of waste…because everything you buy ultimately goes in the trash.

We launched with a candle that, once it melted, you could use the wax as hand cream and the tin as a travel tin. Everything was multipurpose. A few months after launching, I got a phone call from Dell that they were looking for a strategic partner because they wanted to highlight their own efforts in the world of sustainability. Believe it or not, Dell is an incredibly sustainable and very conscious company—since the ’80s, they’ve been repurposing materials back into their own supply chain.

Anyway, they called me, and they were like, “Nikki, we feel like you are a voice in this arena. We would love to discuss the possibility of, in some capacity, partnering. We have this gold, and we’d love to know what your idea would be for this.” I honestly thought they were kidding, but I knew exactly what I wanted to do. My great-grandmother was a jewelry designer and—fun fact—I launched my first jewelry line when I was only 20, which feels like a million years ago.

I guess it was one of those moments that you have in life where everything makes sense and you go, “Oh, wow, this is it. This is what the business is. This is what I’m supposed to do.” I love working with gold; I love working with all the precious metals and precious stones and things that come either from the earth or have a very low-impact on the earth. The whole thing just made so much sense because you’re creating pieces that can be passed down through generations—you’re creating heirloom pieces that span multiple generations—and then you’re working with materials that are natural, organic, and are part of the harmony of the planet already.

Photography by John Russo

It sounds like you really thought it out.

It all felt great coupled with the fact that we launched at CES, which is one of the largest tech conventions. We won the Audience Award at CES, which was interesting because it was like, “What? A fashion brand winning a tech convention!” All these things just became very interesting to me. And there’s obviously an interest elsewhere—it’s not just coming from me. You can talk about things like organic underwear all day long, and maybe only a few people will turn their heads, but then you start talking about something that speaks to everybody, which is this intersection where fashion, tech and sustainability collide in the space of love.

I’m creating pieces, I’m creating engagement. That’s really the heart and soul of the company. Love speaks to everybody. It speaks to me, certainly. I don’t know, it was just this like, ding, ding, the light bulb went off in my head and I went, “Oh, this is what BaYou was meant to do right here.”

Is there anything you’re excited to bring to market in the new year?

We intentionally don’t design around seasonal trends and drop collections right when the fashion world tells you you’re supposed to. Maybe it’s the rebel in me, but I don’t want to be told what to do and I don’t want to pressure people into buying just because we threw in some new SKUs. I like to launch product when I feel inspired; I feel like there’s an energy to that. It’s part of the ethos of the company, too.

That said, oftentimes, when I’m speaking to someone right before a typical seasonal trend drop, they’ll go, “What are you doing right now?” A lot of times, I say: “Nothing!” We sometimes drop eight collections throughout a year, sometimes two, but we’re constantly ideating and coming up with cool and innovative ways to bring multipurpose further into the world of sustainability.

I like to create products that are multipurpose—where one piece can become four pieces, where an earring can become a bracelet and a necklace. It’s not about more and more and more. It’s about cherishing where you’re at and what you have. For a lot of people, that’s one piece.

It’s all a journey and there’s always ways to improve. I’m the first person to talk about what that means. Every business has some footprints—even if you’re a business that’s striving to be sustainable, you have a footprint, let’s not kid ourselves. But how can we continue to strive towards better? For me, that means sustainability and amazing regeneration. We even use diamonds that are grown using hydropower. I love that idea of that cyclical feeling of extracting, giving, and also giving maybe more than you’re extracting. That is a huge part of next year, bringing this line to a regenerative space. And, hopefully in 2024, we’re moving into a brick-and-mortar, too.

Photography by John Russo

Congrats. Obviously, sustainability and low-impact are super important to you in your life and your business. Are there any beauty products that you use that you really think are walking the walk?

I love talking about beauty! Let me just walk into my bathroom and see what is going on. I’m constantly on the hunt; I love beauty products. I love finding stuff that works. There’s nothing wrong with this—and I say this with absolutely no judgment—but thus far, I have not done any interventions of any kind on my face. I tried a laser once, but that’s really it.

The thing is…a lot of us weren’t really taught to take care of ourselves, whether that’s our skin or our scalp or our bodies. I find that our culture is kind of a fix-it culture, but not really a preventative culture. We’re always looking for something to fix a problem, as opposed to working ahead and nurturing ourselves.

I have a dear friend whose family is from Lebanon, and she’s constantly talking about how attention to scalp health was a part of her upbringing—using olive oil on her scalp, massaging her scalp, treating it like you would treat your skin. I love looking at it like that.

I remember when I was younger someone saying to me, “Whatever you do to your face, do to your neck.” I think about that every single night when I’m paying attention to my skin.

Also, I am essentially a hand model now, because it is my business to wear the jewelry; I’m always thinking about the tops of my hands and my body. How often do you look at your body in the shower and really pay attention to it, whether that’s cupping or dry brushing? Most of us were just not taught to do that and we’re just thinking about it later when we want to fix it. It’s so important to give ourselves that attention—in all areas of life.

Photography by John Russo

Nikki Reed’s Beauty Essentials

Serum Star

Right now, I’m using the Odacité Wild Carrot serum ($58). That is incredible. I’ve also been exploring stem-cell science; I’ve been seeing some great results from it.

Mix It

It’s not every night, but I would say every other night when I get out of the shower, I mix oils. This is a cool hack: I mix oils in a spray bottle that has water in it. It’s just a glass spray bottle and spray it on my entire body. Then, as you’re drying off, it rubs your oil and you’re done. It’s a 30-second or less routine. I find that just giving my skin that love makes a difference. I use Kyushi and Najeau for my oils.

Massage Move

If you have time to give yourself a little bit of a lymphatic massage, I love to take a gua sha out while I’m talking on the phone; I’m literally doing that right now.

Hair Full

I use Nutrafol right now because I was having some crazy postpartum shedding. Everybody knows Nutrafol works. It is great. That has been a game-changer compared to last time. My hair is growing back so much faster this time!

Makeup Musts

I use a lot of Kjaer Weis and MERIT right now. I’m obsessed with this new Jamie Makeup Cinnamon Eye Schtick ($29). It’s like my one-stop shop for everything. I just got back from working in Vegas and I was like, “Wow, I don’t have to bring any other makeup ever again!” I also love River Organics concealer ($22), which is in a fully sustainable cardboard package. And ILIA has the best foundation ($54) and the best mascara ($28).

Bath Benefits

Life Elements is an amazing brand. They make an incredible CBD bath bomb that I love.

Photography by John Russo

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