Some stars take years to hit their stride in Hollywood, but not Nikki Reed. The actress was just 13 years old when she co-wrote the screenplay for semi-autobiographical indie flick Thirteen, a dark coming of age tale that grossed over $10 million worldwide after its release in 2013. Thanks in part to the personal experiences that helped shape the story, Reed was a shoo-in for the lead role of Evie Zamora, a troubled teen whose hard-partying ways seduced fellow student Tracy Freeland into a world of drugs, sex, and crime. Later, Reed’s relationship with her Thirteen co-writer and director Catherine Hardwicke helped her land the role of a lifetime: vampire Rosalie Hale in 2008’s Twilight. After the first film was an unexpected box office smash hit, Reed’s status was officially cemented as an “it” girl.
But after acting in all five of the Twilight franchise’s movies, Reed took a step back from the silver screen. These days, she’s known more for her personal life — Reed wed actor Ian Somerhalder in 2015 — as well as her hands-on work designing earth-conscious jewelry and apparel. Here’s what you didn’t know about Reed’s career as a designer.
Nikki Reed's purpose-driven brand is focused on sustainability
In 2017, Nikki Reed founded fashion and lifestyle brand BaYou With Love, her first business venture and “very much a passion project,” per Forbes. With artistry already in her blood, thanks to her jewelry designer grandmother, Reed put her drawing background to good use by hand-sketching the eco-conscious jewelry pieces she envisioned for her line, Forbes reports.
To kick things off, the actress-turned-designer poured $200,000 of her own money into the venture and sourced local manufacturers to reduce the company’s carbon footprint, grounding her brand in sustainability from the outset, per Forbes. True to Reed’s vision, BaYou With Love exclusively uses recycled and discarded metals in its jewelry. Soon after, Reed took the next step by partnering with tech giant Dell to launch a line of 14 to 18 karat gold jewelry made with gold recovered from discarded technology.
“What we can find in our world that might be considered waste, with a different lens or filter could be considered luxury,” Reed explained to Forbes. It’s a belief championed by millennials, 83 percent of whom said in an Accenture survey that it’s important for companies to design products that are meant to be reused or recycled. Which brings us to our next point: how Reed is breaking new ground in the sustainability space.
Nikki Reed designs a unique activewear collection
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, activewear companies are some of the only apparel brands to see an uptick in demand (per The New York Times). Translation: in 2020, we’re finding ways to exercise and destress, or we’re working from home in yoga pants. Either sounds good in theory, but when you consider the fact that most leggings and sports bras are “made of virgin polyester,” which is typically treated with chemical dyes, according to Vogue, there are plenty of negative implications for the environment.
So Nikki Reed is doing what few activewear brands have done: offering recycled polyester leggings and sports bras. Reed told Vogue that her brand’s material diverts plastic from landfills and can be consistently recycled without losing quality. “I wanted to bring my community products with a meaningful story that they’re proud to wear, because I think once you give people ownership and the power to make decisions that have an impact, they feel like they’re a part of something bigger than themselves,” Reed shared with the outlet. “And at the end of the day, I think that’s what being a human being is all about.”
The designer added that her long-term goal is to offer a take-back program where customers can send in their worn-out workout clothes to be recycled into new ones.
Nikki Reed wants to support female businesses
Sustainability isn’t Nikki Reed’s only core focus. The actress-designer is also passionate about championing female-led businesses, especially those that weave sustainability within their mission. In 2018, People reports that Reed opened up a holiday pop-up shop in Los Angeles to showcase her jewelry designs, as well as those of other female business owners. “We either find female designers or they find us because this isn’t a new approach to how we wanted to build our shop,” she told the magazine. “Since starting BaYou, I’ve highlighted other female-founded companies on my social media… together, we are stronger.”
But her pop-up shop is just the beginning. “I have a dream of having a co-op space with other female founders, brands and companies where we can operate together in one location,” Reed shared with Forbes. “I’m not doing this myself: I’m a part of a collective consciousness and community around the world all working towards the same thing. I want all of us to succeed.” And succeed she is! Nikki Reed’s clothing and jewelry line is making it possible to look good, while doing good.
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