I wouldn’t fault you for starting a business and wanting it to grow. You need money to keep your business alive, among other things like awareness and a dependable team. But when success arrives and expands, adjustments have to be made. And if your brand is tied to a strong mission, such as sustainability, compromise isn’t so cut-and-dry. For Nikki Reed, this is why her definition of success has evolved into a less is more philosophy. In other words, she wants her sustainable lifestyle brand BaYou With Love to “stay a small business.”
During BlogHer Biz, the actress and entrepreneur said that when you’re an “activist in any form,” your cause is of the utmost importance. As a conservationist invested in animal rescue and ethical products, it’s important that her brand‘s trajectory doesn’t compromise her reasons for starting it.
BaYou With Love was born out of a need for products Reed couldn’t find in the marketplace. It started with skincare and apparel and eventually, her venture became even more personal with the addition of jewelry. “I come from a family of jewelry designers…we’re creating products that are treasures and family heirlooms.” Beyond the familial connection, what makes BaYou personal for Reed is the ethical decision to produce stateside, support local, L.A.-based artists, and use materials that don’t harm the environment. Without these pillars, BaYou simply isn’t BaYou.
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“We’re a direct to consumer business. Your customer either comes to you because they want to spend a little bit more because they believe in what you’re creating and how you’re creating, or they’re just looking to spend more,” she said. “The profit conversation is a tough one to have, especially if you’re like me and not all that familiar with production and profit margins.”
In sustainability specifically, it’s a “totally different beast” when your business takes off. Yes, there are certain logistics that can be addressed with little controversy, such as hiring more employees. But certain factors like, say, packaging, or mass production, are directly tied to your morals or brand mission. This is the genesis of much “greenwashing” in the sustainability industry, where a brand that is initially sustainable sacrifices its very DNA to meet aggressive goals or grow their consumer base.
“I want BaYou to stay a small business. I’ve already experienced from the small amount of growth we’ve had, as soon as you start producing on a mass scale, you have to sacrifice some of your morals on how you produce,” said Reed. “For me personally, I wanna focus my energy on creating opportunities for other women, watching BaYou succeed, and finding success whatever way I can.”
This emphasizes the importance of knowing your why and setting boundaries from the start, whether you’re a new business owner or revamping a current one. If you invest time in building the foundation, you’re less likely to harbor the anxiety of indecision down the line. Plus, there are plenty of other roadblocks to move past, especially if you’re a female business owner.
“In the jewelry industry as a whole, I feel like I’m speaking to only men all the time,” said Reed. “Sometimes I wake up and I feel like there’s so much progress that’s been made, that it’s like why are we even focusing this? Let’s just keep building amazing companies as women, but then other days I wake up and feel very frustrated.” To that same point, she also emphasized the importance of not getting too stuck on the whys and hows of the past.
“We can stay out of our own way without putting too much energy into the why is it this way?’.”