Being Mama: Nikki Reed
Actor, musician, eco-entrepreneur and mother. We learn how Nikki Reed is taking parenthood and saving the planet in her (stylish, sustainable) stride.
Nikki Reed has a knack for combining her passions. Her breakout-acting role was in a film she co-wrote. Her song features on the soundtrack of The Twilight Saga films in which she stars. She’s married to a fellow actor and, only months after launching her sustainable lifestyle brand, Bayou With Love, Nikki gave birth to their daughter, Bodhi.
“I was growing two babies at once!” she laughs. “I am still, kind of. I’ve always been a ‘do-er’. I like to be busy. I enjoy working hard and while it may seem crazy in hindsight, I really felt like it was the best time to launch my company because I could pour so much time and energy into dreaming up Bayou before she was born.”
During her pregnancy Nikki struggled to find socially conscious products, so designed a line of clean beauty and apparel (think locally crafted, sustainably sourced and eco-friendly materials). After being approached by tech giant, Dell, she expanded into fine jewelry made with gold extracted from old computer motherboards – up-cycling some of the $60 million in precious metals Americans throw away in e-waste each year.
“It’s a ton of work of course, but I feel very energized by all of it,” says Nikki. “I love being a mom and I love operating a business. I like to think I can do both. Being a mother is what inspired me to grow Bayou With Love in the first place. So much of my passion is fueled by the love I feel for Bodhi and the planet I want her to grow up with.”
Having recently presented an award at this year’s Green Carpet Fashion Awards, sporting Bayou With Love jewels and a custom-made, sustainable lace gown, she’s successfully merged style with saving the world – and has come a long way from the teen we met in 2003.
Born in West Los Angeles, California, Nikki rose to fame as Evie Zamora in Thirteen, a much-awarded film she co-wrote with director Catherine Hardwicke, a friend of her mother. Nikki went on to appear in the television series The O.C. before her turn in all five of The Twilight Saga films as a member of the Cullen vampire clan, Rosalie Hale. Actor Ian Somerhalder (also an on-screen vampire, by way of television series The Vampire Diaries) entered the scene in mid-2014, and he and Nikki married in April the following year. In May 2017 the couple announced they were expecting their first child.
Nikki loved being pregnant. “In fact, I loved it so much that I mourned not being pregnant after I’d given birth,” she says. “I didn’t experience some of the more common challenges like morning sickness, but I did have a few interesting things happen along the way. I had a crystal in my ear canal, which gave me insane vertigo for two weeks. I literally couldn’t get out of bed. The world was upside down.” Add to that a pinched nerve in her sacrum that made her right leg go numb for a week – just in time for her babymoon. “Part of the process is knowing that unexplainable things happen. I had to really tune into my body and listen.”
She says her biggest challenge was balancing western medicine with a more holistic approach to pregnancy and birth. “My grandfather was a very respected doctor and I hear his voice in my head all the time. But I also experienced a couple of things along the way from hospitals that were very fear driven, and I’m glad I had the balance of a midwife/doula to bounce things off of so I could tune into my own gut and do what was right for us. In the end it was a mix of both and it was exactly what it should’ve been.”
Bodhi Soleil arrived on July 25th, 2017. “I had a hospital birth, but it was very hands-off with no epidural. It was by far the most intense thing I’ve ever done in my life, with the greatest reward. I feel very strongly about women being educated on their options regarding childbirth. You can’t control the outcome, but you can go in armed with information and allow whatever happens to unfold knowing you are exactly where you are supposed to be.”
Once Bodhi was born, Nikki and Ian embarked on a ‘month of silence’. This meant no visitors, no phones. “Technology for so many reasons is wonderful, but I don’t know what it is doing to our brain – to our ability to connect, to be still,” says Nikki. “We wanted to give all of our time for those first few weeks to her and only her. Luckily, our family and friends know us, they know our intentions and they were so happy to honor that.”
You’ll only find glimpses of Bohdi shared with her colossal Instagram community (Nikki’s got 2.9 million followers, Ian’s got 15 million) but on lessons learned through motherhood, Nikki has been incredibly open. Earlier this year she addressed societal pressure around breastfeeding. She also shared that Bodhi had no interest in purees, despite her blending efforts, and skipped straight ahead to finger food.
“Children are born who they are. We can help them navigate their feelings, and shape them with tools, but they are who they are. My daughter has always shown us exactly who she is. Food is definitely an area where she is not afraid to express herself. It’s taught us how to be even more present, to listen to the subtleties and allow her to teach us as well.”
“I learn something new every day. I’ve never done this before, so all I can do is learn from the women around me who have. The most valuable tool I have as a mom is having my own Mom, and very close friends who are amazing parents. There is no right or wrong way, as long as you love love love, you can’t do it wrong.”
Prior to becoming a mother, Nikki religiously rose before the sun and exercised. When asked if this is still part of her daily routine, she says: “Listen, things change after a baby. Of course I’m tired, and I don’t get to take all the ‘me’ time I did when I was single or before I had a child. It’s impossible! But that’s ok. I still find time to do things I love. I don’t get to have that time every day, but I still prioritize the things that make me happy like training in acroyoga or reading, taking a bath or using my gua-sha [Chinese massage tool] for five minutes a day on my face. I think it’s so important to find that time somehow, even if it means getting a little uncomfortable.”
Nikki and Ian rely on family support rather than having a nanny – “which is incredible but it means everyone is constantly juggling a shifting schedule. Sometimes I go to bed at 1am and get up at 630am to get in 20 minutes of a yoga class on my iPad before Bodhi wakes up and the workday starts. Sometimes I take my lunch break while she’s at school to go for a 30-minute acroyoga lesson, which means I work late into the night to make up for it. Some days I can’t take any time for myself. It all depends on the flow.”
Her exercise regimen isn’t the only thing that’s changed – parenthood has shifted Nikki’s approach to managing a busy life. “I take pride in being a good multitasker, but I’ve just started to realize that maybe that isn’t a skill I should nurture so much. Maybe I don’t want to multitask so much anymore. Maybe multitasking divides my attention in ways that don’t benefit my household anymore. I want to be present with everything I do, so now the challenge I am facing is slowing down, and giving my undivided attention to whatever is in front of me. It’s tough as a mama and a business owner to slow down, but I am exploring ways of doing that without compromising because I want to do both.”
“I totally struggle with the guilt of wondering if I give too much time to work, but I also know that Bodhi will grow up with a strong independent Mama who will hopefully inspire her to be anything she wants to be. Also, there is so much love pouring out of Bayou. All of the conversations she hears me having are always super positive, as is the message and intention behind the company. I have no doubt she feels that vibration.”
A collaboration with eco-conscious childrenswear brand 1212 marks Bayou With Love’s foray into babywear. “I have been dressing my daughter in 1212 since she was born and can’t wait to launch this very special collection together,” says Nikki. The new line includes a kimono onesie, snap jumper and two-piece tee and short set – all in 100% organic pima cotton and recycled packaging.
It’s little surprise that waste is “a sensitive topic” in Nikki’s household. “It’s about making the extra effort to do your best, when you can, where you can. One thing I’ve found is that we can’t deny our child all of the things she wants, but we can try to balance it out by being even more conscious of our own waste as parents.” She and Ian recently swapped tea bags for loose leaf and have started buying their rice and beans in bulk. “Of course we only have reusable grocery bags and we recycle and we drive environmentally friendly vehicles, but there are areas we can go even deeper with ourselves as new items like yogurt, diapers and apple juice boxes inevitably make their way in.”
Looking ahead, Nikki is excited to keep growing Bayou With Love and put Bodhi in her first Halloween costume. “I can’t wait!” she says. “It’s funny to look at what truly matters after having a child. The happiest moments of my life are the ones where I can to see her pure, uninhibited joy. My greatest love, my number one priority is seeing her smile. Taking her to her play dates, art class, walking through the garden while she looks at a butterfly, those are the things I live for now.”