Actress Nikki Reed Signs on as Adviser to Plant-Based Baby Food Brand
The 'Twilight' actress, parent to 20-month-old daughter Bodhi Soleil Reed Somerhalder (with 'Vampire Diaries' star Ian Somerhalder), has partnered with San Francisco subscription baby food delivery company Raised Real.
Twilight actress Nikki Reed is expanding her eco-friendly entrepreneurial ventures from jewelry to baby food. In 2017, she launched sustainable lifestyle line Bayou with Love (offering jewelry made of gold extracted from used tech products) and she has now joined San Francisco plant-based, subscription baby food delivery company Raised Real as an adviser.
Reed's 20-month-old daughter, Bodhi Soleil Reed Somerhalder (whom she shares with Vampire Diaries star Ian Somerhalder), inspired her to learn more about the brand Raised Real, which delivers plant-based, preportioned meals to subscribing parents nationwide. The meals — including a popular peas, zucchini, hemp hearts, basil and avocado oil dish — are flash-frozen and can be prepared steamed, cooked or mashed (12 meals for $65.88).
Other luxe baby food services, such as Yumi and Little Foodie Club, have drawn Hollywood fans from Armie Hammer to Jessica Alba.
Because the veggies are prechopped, Raised Real can save misshapen or otherwise "imperfect" produce and put it to use, an idea that appealed to Reed. "As a society, we're conditioned to think that if something isn't vibrant and shiny and perfectly symmetrical that it's not good. And that's simply not the case," she says. "Part of what I love about being a part of this company is encouraging the message surrounding the use of imperfect foods."
Reed talked to The Hollywood Reporter about her new business role, using social media to build a network of moms and being a lifelong learner (including taking college classes online).
How did you discover Raised Real and what do you love about it for your daughter?
I discovered Raised Real like any other parent. I was just a genuine fan of the company and what I felt it brought into our home and our family. As a mom, we're all looking for ways to do the best that we can for our kids all the time. I think all moms experience similar challenges and struggles and questions, and it's really important to be able to feel like we can be vocal about those things and connect with each other. The more we connect, the more we realize we all have a lot in common.
I started researching and found so many things that I felt were really morally aligned with my own philosophy and approach to life and parenting, inspired by the list of ingredients and the sustainability component. All those things led me to reaching out to the company independently...I'm an adviser, which means everything from marketing and strategy to product development and being that I launched my own company just 23 months ago, I also felt really inspired and connected to the founder's story.
More often than not, [healthy food] is catered toward adults and we don't put a lot of focus on that for children, which is such a huge mistake and such a missed opportunity.... And the issue of food waste, which is a really big deal — I really love talking about this stuff. As you become a parent, you're more aware of that because of the amount of time you spend either at the supermarket, cooking things that your child doesn't want, half of it ends up on the floor or you buy prepackaged pouches that have a three-day shelf life that end up going bad, because your child didn't feel like eating that Wednesday through Friday. Having preportioned, prechopped meals that are a fully balanced diet and filled with all the amazing yummy, nutrient-dense things that, even as adults, you want to have, like coconut oils and spices like turmeric and chia seeds and ground pumpkin seeds...it makes you feel like you've really accomplished something as a parent.
Why is being eco-friendly important to you?
It's as simple as "doing things that are good for the planet are also good for your life." We can wax poetic and talk about this all day long...but the truth is, it's just what feels good. The second you start making healthier, cleaner choices in your household or a more conscious approach to living in general, the more your mind opens up to the endless possibilities of ways to incorporate this into your life.... It feels good to be a part of the immediate result that comes from conscious living.
I often get asked how long I plan on breastfeeding. To be honest, I have no idea how long her and I will be on this journey together. I follow her lead, and she tells me exactly what she needs. At 20 months she is only just becoming interested in food. I discovered after a year of blending and smooshing and mashing, that my daughter doesn’t like mushy baby food. Wild right? It wasn’t until someone suggested I skip puréed food and go straight to finger foods that she became intrigued by what was on her plate. Who knew some kids just don’t ever go for blended baby food. I tried bananas, avocado, all the semi-soft good stuff and she rejected everything. Never in a million years did I think to skip that step when she only had two teeth. Also, I thought all babies loved avocado! So all you mamas out there having trouble feeding your little one the mushy stuff, maybe try over-steamed veggies diced up itty bitty so he/she can play with textures. I wish someone had told me this sooner! If your little one isn’t eating puréed solids, they might want to go straight for big people food! Right now thats where were at, still breastfeeding and skipping right to finger foods. Also, in case you need to hear it again because I definitely did, whatever you’re doing you are doing it right! Every baby is on their own path doing things when and how they need to, and our job is to trust our gut, talk to other mamas and just go with the flow! Ps accidental matching outfits...come on! This bloomer/hat combo courtesy of both Grandmas making all my baby-wardrobe dreams I didn’t know I had come true :)
You wrote on Instagram about your transition from breastfeeding to solid baby food, skipping pureed food. What was that journey like?
That's actually how I discovered this company. Somebody suggested to me that I should skip pureed foods, because that just wasn't something that my daughter wanted. I felt like I was in this holding pattern because naturally, until someone tells you or helps you navigate this as a first time, you just kind of do what you think you're supposed to do. And I thought you go from breastfeeding to feeding your child mushy food to solid food and finger food and that's it. Because my daughter decided to take a slightly different course, she wasn't so interested in mushy food, we were in this holding pattern. I discovered Raised Real because someone suggested I go right to finger foods.... It feels counterintuitive, when your child has only two tiny teeth breaking through the surface, that they could possibly want to eat a steamed carrot.
I felt really inspired and compelled to share that story with the world because I feel like, if you have a platform, there is a sense of responsibility and also excitement surrounding discoveries that are made that you feel have really helped your life. While we do keep our family life relatively private, I'm still very connected to this global mom community that I feel I've leaned on for a tremendous amount of support. If anything, social media — while it was something that I felt resistant to for a long time — has actually been such a wonderful tool for communicating with moms everywhere, and I felt like there's a really wonderful support system that exists there that I want to nurture as well.
What's the biggest thing you've learned while being a mom and working in Hollywood?
I don't think there's such a thing as moms in Hollywood. I feel like the one thing I guess I've learned is that moms are the same everywhere. Moms want the same thing for their child, which is the best thing for their child.... If there are ever challenges or obstacles or struggles, I think they're kind of felt unanimously. Every parent kind of goes through the same thing, which is interesting. There no longer a social divide or cultural divide. I think it kind of transcends all of that.
Is there a piece of parenting advice that has most stuck with you?
Daily. I don't even know where to begin! I'm very close with my family, and I'm very close with my husband's family, so luckily we have multiple generations that are giving input all the time, which I'm so grateful for. We're a very communicative little group, so I think it's really nice to have people to lean on. The fact that I can pick up the phone and call a mom friend or share stories on Instagram: You immediately realize, if you don't have the answer, another mom does. It creates this immediate sense of safety and comfort.
As an adviser, what do you hope to make happen at Raised Real?
I love wearing multiple hats within any company. So I don't really do things on a superficial level ever. If you know me, then you know that that's a pretty real thing I just said. I dive in with all of my heart and passion. I experience that certainly with my company, Bayou with Love. I wear almost every hat within the company, from photography to web development to web copy to design to learning coding and web layout, down to shipping decisions.
So with Raised Real, one of my first questions going in was, "What capacity can I contribute or be a part of this?" It's such a wonderful, collaborative group. The thing I'm most excited about is learning about product development and ingredients and, for me, I'm a lifelong student. You're talking to somebody who still takes college courses online if I have five seconds; there's incredible websites that follow Ivy League curriculum. You can take just a class. I'm a lifelong student, so for me being a part of this company is as much about learning as it is about contributing.
Why does that appeal to you?
It's really important to understand everything from the ground up.... That's my approach to everything, whether it's Raised Real or Bayou with Love or anything else that I'm involved in. Toss me in and I might not be an expert in the field, but I am excited to become one and to learn about this and to grow with both companies.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity. It was updated April 19 at 10:39 a.m.