Credit: Chelsea Jean
Credit: Chelsea Jean

Actress, Creative Director and CEO Nikki Reed on Living a Life of Passion and Happiness

Reed Dives Deep on the Topics of Purpose and Conscious Creativity

It’s safe to say that Nikki Reed wears many hats.

A quick glance at her Instagram feed will reveal a mosaic of bucolic imagery featuring horses and cows at peace in their pastoral habitat, dreamy coastal landscapes and subtle homages to the products she thoughtfully creates and loves. These images are seamlessly interwoven with artistic lifestyle shots featuring the actress-turned-businesswoman as the subject, often in various versions of wide-brimmed headwear.

CEO Nikki Reed
Credit: Chelsea Jean

Reed has added the titles of photographer, designer, creative director, marketing advisor, founder, CEO and mom (soon-to-be for the second time as she and her husband, actor Ian Somerhalder, announced in January) to her ever-evolving list of credits.

Reed has come a long way in her journey, personally and creatively, since bursting into the zeitgeist in 2003 with her acting and screenwriting debut in “Thirteen”—Reed’s unflinchingly raw, semi-autobiographical depiction of a 13-year-old girl (portrayed by Evan Rachel Wood) and her descent down a path of self destruction while under the influence of a wayward classmate (played by Reed herself).

At just 14 years old, Reed co-wrote the screenplay with filmmaker Catherine Hardwicke, which was loosely based—very loosely, as Reed explained on an “Ellen” appearance later that year—on her personal experiences as a teen in Los Angeles. The arthouse film, also co-starring Holly Hunter, sent shockwaves among critics with its realistic (one might even argue voyeuristic) depictions of teenage exploration with sexuality, drug use, theft, self-harm and uncomfortable family dynamics, garnering enough acclaim at the Sundance Film Festival to earn not only a theatrical release but Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations as well.

“I think that kind of raw, vulnerable portrayal of life stays with you forever,” says Reed. “It’s so interesting for me now to watch that film as an adult because it’s very much [told through] the perspective of a child. As a kid, we see people in a way that doesn’t necessarily allow for the same compassion and understanding that we have as an adult, just by virtue of not having the life experience. And at my age now, I have so much compassion for how [the film] impacted the people in my life.”

CEO Nikki Reed
Credit: Chelsea Jean

Contrary to some reports, Reed—a self-proclaimed “incredibly shy child”—hadn’t set out to become an actress. But after being invited to casting sessions and reading opposite the prospective young actresses, Reed was asked to play Evie Zamora, the film’s antagonist. Portraying a “bad girl” set Reed’s career on a trajectory of typecasting for a time, including “Lords of Dogtown” in 2005, and the 2006 indie film “Mini’s First Time”—following a teen who begins a sexual relationship with her stepfather (Alec Baldwin) and conspires with him to kill her mother. Years of accumulating acting credits eventually led to her blockbuster breakout role as vampire Rosalie Hale in the wildly popular fan-fiction franchise, “Twilight.”


But for all of the misconceptions of Reed’s true character in comparison to her on-screen counterparts, Reed’s desire to expand her creative pursuits and explore other versions of herself manifested in 2017 with the launch of her sustainable jewelry brand, Bayou With Love.

Focused on repurposing gold and incorporating diamonds grown with solar energy, Reed—who comes from “a long line of artists and designers”—has relished discovering opportunities to make an impact through conscious creativity.

“I launched Bayou in the hopes of connecting with art and impacting culture in a different way,” Reed explains. “With fabric, and even the most natural fibers, you’re still dealing with an element of loss and waste that I just wasn’t comfortable with. I loved the idea of working with gold because it comes from the earth…and it goes back into the earth.”

CEO Nikki Reed
Credit: Chelsea Jean

In collaboration with Anthropologie, Reed created Bayou—while pregnant with her first child—and partnered with Dell to recycle gold from repurposed motherboards and computer technology. It was her interest in learning all facets of business—from shipping and packaging to SEO and building product pages—that led to her next foray into photography and a partnership with camera giant Leica.

Reed recently displayed her passion for storytelling through imagery with a two-month exhibition on Melrose Avenue and has expanded into designing sustainable shoes with brand partner Loci while also serving as a marketing advisor for the clean medicine initiative Genexa.

Chelsea Jean
Credit: Chelsea Jean

“They all revolve around one central pillar, which is a conscious approach to living,” Reed says. “When we’re talking about how shoes or jewelry or medicine is made, when you’re looking at all these things, you realize that they’re all connected.”

Through it all, finding balance is the gateway to happiness for Reed.

“My idea of happiness is stillness,” Reed explains. “I’ve realized I’m happiest when I’m in nature and away from technology…because I think the human brain actually wants less things and more time. So my hope is to continue learning and growing in all of these [creative] spaces, and simultaneously,” she laughs at the contradiction, “I’d also really like to find time to slow down.”


Nikki Reed
Bayou With Love

Writer | + posts

Based in Los Angeles, Kandace has spent the past ten years in the fashion and lifestyle space, and recently in entertainment at Sony Pictures Studios. She has a Masters in Journalism from Emerson College and has studied in Paris, Firenze, and Washington DC, beginning her career as a style editor and tastemaker for NBC. She is an internationally award-winning filmmaker, having studied screenwriting for film and television at UCLA, and her work has been celebrated around the world, in cities like London, Nice, New York, and Montréal. Paying homage to her French heritage, she is also the creator of The Chic American--a style and culture editorial destination for Francophiles, dedicated to the art of living an elevated, French-inspired lifestyle.



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