While the current quarantine season has found some cooking a homemade meal for the first time or engaging in a virtual happy hour with a few close friends, for actor and lifestyle brand owner Nikki Reed, the time indoors has found her taking work calls in her bathroom — with two baby ducks. Well, that's exactly where she was when I called to talk about her sustainable fashion label Bayou With Love and its recent foray into the loungewear space.
"We have a farm situation and we have two baby duckies who are too small to be in the coop, so they're growing up here in the bathroom," explains Reed, who shares a home with husband Ian Somerhalder and three-year-old daughter Bodhi. "And I've gotta find a quiet corner, so there you go ... you do what you can."
Connecting with animals is a concept that's very near and dear to Reed's heart. In fact, the entrepreneur's interest and awareness in planetary resources and sustainability can be traced back to her childhood love for animals. "It's been an evolution," says Reed. An evolution that ultimately led to the inception of Bayou With Love, which officially launched in 2017 and initially focused on providing sustainably sourced luxury jewelry. This equates to timeless pieces made from recycled gold and diamonds sourced from a certified 100-percent carbon-neutral diamond producer, Diamond Foundry and grown above ground in the Pacific Northwest.
"We like to encourage our customers to purchase grown diamonds," says Reed. "They're not cubic zirconium or fake diamonds. They're actually molecularly identical to diamonds, they just don't have to be mined for because the vendor we source from has the technology to grow them with solar energy in California." As for the line's colored gemstones, Reed says she personally sources those from "certified conflict-free ethical vendors." (For more information on this, you can visit "The Story Of A Stone" page on Bayou's website.)
While Bayou's developed a loyal clientele over the past few years who appreciate the brand's slower, more thoughtful approach to fashion, home, and beauty products, Reed says the recent pandemic has helped grow a new fanbase. "People are realizing in this moment of forced pause that we need less," she explains. "As a direct-to-consumer business, I'm not saying we're completely separate from that. But, Bayou as a company has always talked about consuming less and producing in smaller and slower batches.[...] We're not big on flash sales and following the constant trend calendar or producing seasonally. That's not who we are as a company. Right now in this moment, people are really getting that."
This quarantine season also presented the perfect time to step into a new category, loungewear, which Bayou rolled out in early August 2020. Consisting of luxe, breezy separates like a modal slip dress, robe, roomy lounge pants, and a button-down top, each item is made from sustainable materials including (but not limited to) cellulose extracted from wood fiber, cupro (a byproduct of harvested cotton fibers), and plant-derived tencel.
When the launch hit some initial bumps in the road, it allowed the brand to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability. When the initial orders came in running small, the team had to refer to their ethos for the right solution "Instead of relabeling everything, we just included the discrepancy in our notes on the product page," explains Reed. "We said, 'Please purchase one size up as this is running small.' The thought of sending all the product back to the factory to be relabeled and all those original labels going to waste ... that's just not who we are as a company."
Transparency with clientele is clearly a high priority for Reed and the Bayou team, who are accustomed to having conversations like this, particularly when explaining their slower approach to shopping and fashion. "At times that can be frustrating for consumers who are used to everything being 'now, now, now,'" says Reed. "I can't tell you how many times we have to go in and have conversations with customers about having some patience with shipping. Everything is hand-crafted in Los Angeles and things take time. But, [I've found] when you introduce reasoning and a conscious explanation — one that feels good for people to absorb and digest and comes with education — people are much for gracious and understanding." Especially, when they discover your assistants are two baby ducks.
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