Nikki Reed isn’t your typical movie star.


She has a chicken feed mill in her kitchen, worries about the chemicals in her clothing, composts with worms, dreams of her daughter being a farmer, and gets starstruck by anthropologists.

In the last decade, Reed has been as busy outside the limelight as she once was in it. The former Twilight actress has launched sustainable, eco-friendly businesses like BaYou With Love, partnered with Dell on recycling metals from motherboards, made LOCI vegan sneakers made from recycled ocean plastic, and invested in companies making clean medicine like Genexa, and all the while raising two children with her handsome husband, Ian Somerhalder.

This, by the way, is different from how she was raised in Los Angeles. “I grew up with zero understanding of sustainability. It wasn’t part of my consciousness. My mom was a single mom of two kids, working extra hard to make ends meet,” she says. “And so we were in the grind doing what we could to kind of make it all come together at the end of the day.”

After having incredible success as a teenage actress in Thirteen, a movie she starred in and also helped write, as well as on The O.C. and the Twilight series as Rosalie Hale, Reed developed an endless passion and love for animals that set her on a new path.

“I had this aha moment where I thought, ‘Wow, whatever we’re doing to animals, we’re actually doing to ourselves,” she says. “And it started to expand beyond diet or lifestyle. It became about the environment.” Improving the environment requires a multifaceted approach, encompassing everyday choices, inspirational leadership, and countless micro-decisions. It’s a complex interplay, and Reed has found herself at the intersection.

When she couldn’t find products up to sustainability snuff, she figured, why not create them herself? In 2017, she launched BaYou With Love in a partnership with Anthropologie, selling multi-purpose sustainable apothecary items. The site continues to sell beauty products but mainly focuses on its super chic, ethical jewelry.

A few months after launching the site, Reed got a call from Dell, the tech giant, asking to partner on an idea. “It turns out, for decades, Dell had been prioritizing sustainability within their supply chain. They are all about reusing and repurposing. They’re an incredible company,” says Reed. Dell asked the actress and designer to repurpose recycled gold extracted from the motherboards of its technology. “It didn’t even take five minutes to say yes,” she recalls. Reed’s grandmother was a jewelry designer, so she is no stranger to working with precious metals.

With BaYou, she embarked on creating a line of engagement rings. Reed wanted to provide stones with a story while making a carbon-neutral ring with the lowest possible impact. She works with Diamond Foundry, the world’s first certified 100 percent carbon-neutral diamond producer. “From the ground up, this business is coursing through my veins,” says Reed, who designs, sketches and photographs the jewelry on the site, along with writing the marketing copy.

This begs the question: Will she go back to acting? “Acting fulfills a super creative side of me, but BaYou does that too, and maybe even more. I don’t know if I was meant to be in front of a camera. I think I was meant to be behind it. [With these new projects], I feel like I’ve come home to myself in a sense.”

On the home front, Reed and Somerhalder have been building a family on their farm just outside Los Angeles. In fact, Reed has what she describes as a “really wacky, crazy water system,” due to a self-professed obsession with off-the-grid living. “I’m a mad scientist with descaling water and remineralization.” Additionally, Reed and Somerhalder are into worm composting. “I also have this new super cool thing where I don’t have to buy chicken food because I can make it with a mill.

People come to my house, and they’re like, ‘Wow, that’s, that’s so weird. What is that on your kitchen floor? Oh, this is how I make my chicken food.”

The pair is consistently and actively thinking about the earth their two children will inherit. Kids become what they see in their environment. I’ll do everything in my power to hopefully shift them away from anything in entertainment,” Reed says with a chuckle. “My greatest joy would be if my daughter wanted to be a farmer.”

Her daughter’s allergies inspired her to become an investor and advisor in Genexa, a clean medicine line. “I think it’s needed and obviously disruptive in the space
of medicine,” she says passionately. “We all use medicine. Why not have a version that excludes all the toxins, harmful chemicals, and preservatives? We can have effective medicine like Acetaminophen for our kids but use organic blueberry syrup instead of dyes and all the nasty stuff.”

This drive turned her attention to Prenuvo, a whole-body MRI scan with 1,000 data points for preventative care. Reed, who is not partnered with or paid by Prenuvo, reached out to the company because she believes preventive medicine is the future. “It’s our job to help these companies scale so they can become more attainable to everyone,” says the advocate. “I truly believe this is life-changing technology. I had a family member who had a life-saving diagnosis, and without Prenuvo, we never would have found out.”

When Reed’s not fighting for better healthcare or clean medicine, she’s getting back to her sustainable fashion roots. Reed recently wrapped her second collab with LOCI on a vegan sneaker line for both men and women. They’re chic, comfortable, sustainable, and wearable. “We use recycled ocean plastics, natural rubber, cork, and then recycled brass eyelets on the shoe,” she says. LOCI donates a percentage of the sales to Dr. Sylvia Earle’s work, a great conservationist and oceanographer Reed holds in high esteem.

Speaking of admiration, her greatest muse would surprise you. “I’m so fortunate I get to meet these people I look up to,” she says. You’d think Reed would be talking about co-stars like Bruce Willis, Forest Whitaker, Kristen Stewart, or Robert Pattinson. But she admits, “I don’t really get starstruck by anybody except for Jane Goodall. Goodall is my number one. She sent me a video for my daughter’s birthday two years ago, and literally, my jaw was on the floor.”


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