Nikki Reed is making it possible to look good while doing good.
The actress, 30, founded her lifestyle brand Bayou with Love in 2017 with a focus on sustainability and just reached a major new milestone: opening up her first brick-and-mortar storefront. Reed celebrated the opening of her holiday pop up shop, which was created in collaboration with Earth + Element owner Elizabeth Di Prinzio, in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles on Wednesday.
“We poured our hearts and souls into this store so it’s really nice to see everybody enjoying and appreciating and touching everything,” Reed tells PEOPLE. “The brick-and-mortar model is really sweet, and I think part of what Liz and I are trying to do with our pop-up is give different communities that same opportunity to come in and see things in person.”
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The warm and friendly space features an array of products including women’s apparel, hand-made ceramics, beauty products and even children’s clothes. Also on display, of course, are a number of pieces from Reed’s jewelry collection featuring all sustainably made pieces.
“When you’re dealing with all of these new keywords — like ethical, sustainable, recycled, chemical-free, organic —that I think are becoming more and more common in people’s lexicons, it’s really nice to have people touch things and see them in person because I think there’s a misconception that sustainable goods are somehow considered, at times, less than,” Reed says.
“There’s the illusion of luxury with virgin materials, which I think is becoming less and less common, which is great. But it’s wonderful to see people pick up a diamond ring that’s made from recycled gold and go, ‘Oh wow, this doesn’t feel any less luxurious than any other diamond ring that I would pick up,’ ” the mother of one shares.
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In October, Reed launched her brand’s bridal collection after realizing there was a lack of options available for eco-friendly brides-to-be.
“My husband and I got engaged many, many years ago, but I know that had this been available when we were getting married, this would’ve been something that I was looking for,” Reed says of husband and former Vampire Diaries actor, Ian Somerhalder, whom she married in 2015.
“When we launched with the Open Opal Diamond Ring a while back, women were buying [it] as engagement rings or promise rings even though they would’ve wanted something a little flashier or a little bigger,” she adds. “They were willing to go with something so stripped down because they loved the message so much.”
It was after she received messages from people saying they proposed with that specific ring that Reed knew she was on to something. Thus, the bridal collection was born.
“I know every detail of how these rings are made,” she says. “They are literally made with love. I’m down at the factory on a weekly basis working with the materials myself, and I just felt like had I been getting engaged right now, this is what I would’ve been looking for.”
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All of the diamonds and stones Reed uses are Kimberley approved, which means the way they are acquired is totally “conflict-free.” And when it comes to Reed’s bridal line, every ring is made from cultivated diamonds — which are diamonds produced by a controlled process, as opposed to naturally occurring diamonds that are mined.
“Our cultivated diamonds are grown above ground using solar energy in California, and they’re grown from diamond seeds,” she says. “They are diamonds — there is nothing synthetic about them. But instead of mining for them, we can grow them because we, as human beings, have the technology. The social impacts and environmental impacts are huge.”
The Bayou with Love website explains that the diamonds they use are grown in a highly controlled environment that duplicates the conditions under which diamonds naturally develop when they form in the mantle, beneath the Earth’s crust. They are grown from the tiny carbon seeds of pre-existing diamonds, allowing people to enjoy real diamonds without the human and environmental toll of mining. These cultivated diamonds consist of actual carbon atoms arranged in the characteristic diamond crystal structure, and are made of the same material as mined diamonds.
To Reed, it’s also important that fellow female business owners were showcased in the pop-up shop she created with Di Prinzio.
“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 says. “Since starting Bayou, I’ve highlighted other female-founded companies on my social media and Elizabeth does the same. We both subscribe to the idea that together we are stronger.”
“I feel like it is my moral duty and also my greatest joy to be able to share that with other people,” she continues. “It would feel weird and wrong if I didn’t do that because I know how hard these women are working and how hard I’m working to show people what we’re creating. We all cross promote and cross-pollinate. This shop is a physical space but to me, it’s really more of a metaphor of how we should all be operating business.”
When creating her collections, Reed set out to make the price points, which range from $78 to $1,027, “incredibly affordable.”
“On one hand, it’s a bold decision because pricing sustainable goods at a lower price point or a very competitive price point caters to the misconception that sustainable goods are less than,” she says. “And I understand that. But on the other hand, to me, it felt like education and mission over profit were really important because I think that if people can touch and see and feel these things in person, they will adopt the message that sustainability and luxury can live together. I price that way because I want people to touch and feel sustainable goods and realize that they’re not less than.”
Bayou with Love and Earth + Element’s holiday pop up shop is open to the public Friday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
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