Conversation with Riley Reid is something to savor. “While I am a photographer, words inspire me a lot,” she says a cup of coffee At her home in South Austin. She adds, adding carefully, “In fact, many of the images I’ve created started with words.
Founder Beauty woke upEverything you do serves one powerful intention: to elevate our ideas of beauty to new levels of awareness. She brings calm and focused honesty to any subject. It is a distinctive approach upon which she has built an elegant and flowing career. You can listen to authors and activists interviewing Riley on her podcastOr even book a photo therapy session for her.
She’s one of the most inspiring people we know (and the first person we asked to interview for this series). Read on to discover the rituals that make Riley’s life beautiful.
How do you start each morning?
I take a few moments to reflect on how grateful I am to be here: here on Earth, here in my home, here during this season of life, here with my body and mind.
How does the design of your space reflect your priorities and goals?
What you value is what you see. I think it is very interesting and important to evaluate what you have displayed in your environment. You will find books in every room of our house. Many are memoirs, slices of literature, design icons, nature, remedies, commitments to social justice, and stories about love, loss, growth, and all things human in between.
I have a deep love of beauty, nature and the little things. I covet gifted trinkets from family and friends. I enjoy discovering new visual artists, collecting art outside, and finding ways to bring nature home, whether through dried flowers gathered in the street, pebbles in the bay, or wind monsters from our local nursery.
What is the best place in your house?
Definitely our sofa. 18 months ago, when all the sofas were in back demand, I rented a U-Haul and drove to San Marcos, intending to find a sofa at an outlet. Low and behold, I came across a brand new Cloud Collection sofa at the Restoration Hardware outlet. It was just dropped as a return, cut 50%, and I was happy. It has become the centerpiece of our living room and is one of the most comfortable pieces of furniture I’ve ever sat on (re: laid).
How would you describe your work/life balance? Do you keep things organized and separate? Or are you a master of multitasking?
I have certain boundaries to help me stay focused and remind myself that no part of my life depends on another. This includes things like the Notion template (thanks Jules Acre!), a desk, a Do Not Disturb timer on my phone, and clear communication with those I love.
However, truth be told, my work and life are pretty much blended. I don’t see how they couldn’t be. I don’t have a board of advisors, so it’s my husband, family, and friends who I go to for advice and feedback. My writing and my photography are very personal and dependent on who I am as a person, what interests me, and how I want to engage the community. My podcast often focuses on mental health and features guests I genuinely look up to (both in work and in life). There is no straight answer here, which seems on par for being a socially conscious artist and a solo entrepreneur.
Where do you turn for inspiration when you feel creatively blocked?
Creative block generally means inertia. If I feel like I’m in that space, I take myself outside to a nice place where I can stroll, read someone else’s experience on a bench, view huge trees and delicate flowers, or lie in a patch of grass. I deeply appreciate nature and the feeling of being small.
What are your favorite scents?
One of my good friends, Cassie, is the owner of a popular collection called High Sun Low Moon, found in transnational boutiques. It has two blends of loose incense: High Sun that encapsulates yang energy in a bright and clear scent and Low Moon that honors yin energy with a sensual and velvety scent. I use both equally depending on my mood.
Are there jobs you are already looking forward to doing?
When I was young, my primary housework was laundry. I have always considered folding clothes to be an art form and, like making a bed, something to do with purpose and gratitude. My mom taught me that clothes can last forever as long as they are taken care of properly. Knowing that textiles make up an appalling percentage of waste, I make the extra effort to pay attention to materials, labels, and hang dry when necessary.
I love the sound of the washing machine, the smell of the detergent, and the feel of the warm towels.
What’s the one beauty product you can’t live without?
Prepare Dominique Ropion in collaboration with Frédéric Malle. I discovered the Frederic Malle perfumery in New York City after featuring in a campaign. The hairdresser on set was wearing Portrait of a Lady and I was mesmerized by the notes. The boutique was cool and moody. There have been a plethora of scents created in partnership with Frédéric Malle from around the world.
I splashed the promise on one of my wrists before getting a glass of wine with my husband next door to sit with. Many people asked me what I was wearing. He spoke of the power of fragrances as an integration with one’s own aura and Ropion’s philosophy: “A good perfume,” as he likes to say, “should always stand out conspicuously.”
Frédéric Malle is one of my teachers. He believes in giving everyone the opportunity to find the fragrance that connects with their personality. His perfume bottles have no marketing, celebrity ambassadors, or launch events. Invest in what’s inside. He gives perfumers complete freedom – considering himself an editor, his perfume writers – and even has a map that visually describes the different characteristics of all the fragrances he offers. Promise is equally considered the deepest and darkest of them all. I like to think of it as a reminder of the minimal needs of others, no matter how difficult, and of my willingness to go all out, no matter how far.
Does music play a role in your daily life? How?
I listen to it every day. I play it during photo shoots, and use it to set the mood for cleaning, driving, and hanging out with friends. I even like some good lo-fi beats to focus while I work.
What is your favorite way to unwind after a long day?
Light a candle, prepare a nutritious meal, and spend time with my dogs and husband.
What’s the best health advice anyone has ever given you?
I lived with my grandmother the summer after my first year of college. We used to take long walks in her neighborhood in Santa Barbara. She always reminded me to breathe fresh air, honor all living things, and take ownership of my energy impact on the environment. That summer and those teachings typified the best advice she ever gave me: “We’re mostly not materialistic.”
I often remind myself that the quality of being healthy is determined by factors I can’t see.
What is the best career advice anyone has given you?
Rejection has always been hard for me. I can easily fall into the pit of thinking my worth is determined by external factors and external parties. But that involves putting in a lot of time to please others, giving value to contracts I don’t have, and sticking myself to brands whose priority is the same.
I once had a phone call with my dad after receiving an email that made me feel really small. I was in tears, frustrated and disappointed. My father told me that I had forgotten my own value, that I was ignoring the viability of the brand and business I had built out of thin air. He said three words firmly in my soul: “I bet on you.”
What is one thing you commit to doing every single day, no matter what?
I tell my husband that I love him.
What is your favorite time of the day and why?
My favorite time of the day is dawn. I love how slow and still it feels. It’s still the quietest time of the day and provides absolutely free space to do whatever I want. There is very little that can interrupt me and very little that can distract me. Even the trees seem to be still asleep.