This is such an amazing opportunity to have two generations that are creatively and personally intertwined and, I suspect, interdependent. First off, you are mother and child but you are also both building creative businesses that are embracing our fluid future. So let’s start with the basics: what does fluidity mean to both of you?
HARRIS REED Wow, for me that’s such a big question. I think it can really span across different things from sexuality to how you identify as a being and how you identify as a creative. I think it’s someone who finds beauty within the fluid. A person who feels they don’t fit into preconceived gender norms and who completely knows who they are, what they stand for and knowing that that doesn’t fit into what the current status quo of gender is.
LYNETTE REED I think fluidity to me is just about letting people be people and not be labeled or having to tick a certain box. Just being able to be free to be who you are. You know, having a son who when he was three years old wore princess dresses and boas — I think I was very influenced by Harris and by raising him.
Definitely. Harris, how do you think your upbringing has shaped who you are as well as how you are building your brand?
HR My upbringing definitely shaped who I am today. I think having parents who have been super open for me to fully express who I am, and creating space for me to challenge and explore myself. I think that, in contrast with moving around so much. We moved a lot, and when I was younger I was fascinated by how people may view someone who doesn’t fit into what is preconceived as male or female, or “normal” or “not normal”. There was this really beautiful, harmonious contrast of having really accepting parents wanting me to embrace who I was, clashing with sometimes being in environments where people really had an issue with the way that I was choosing to present myself. I think those two things have influenced where I am now. Everything comes from my deep fascination with how clothing can really shape the way someone feels, both someone who’s wearing the garments and also the person who’s looking at them.
Lynette, you talk about how Harris has inspired your work. It is quite amazing to see a parent so open and curious as to let their child influence their business. How do you think this dynamic of influence works?
LR As much as I feel like we taught Harris, he’s also taught me. I learn from him every day, and he and we consider each other best friends. He lived with his stepdad and I for most of his upbringing, and spent summers with his father who’s the same, very open and accepting. We did everything we could to keep him in a safe environment where he would always be free to be who he was. I’ve been in the perfumery and fragrance business forever and when I went to do Fluid Fragrances it was a lot to do with Harris and watching him blossom. But it wasn’t just a blossom, it was more like an explosion. Watching him really become who he is has just been a complete inspiration for me in every single way. I don’t like the word “unisex” because again that’s labeling those two sexes. That’s why I named it Fluid Fragrances because, first of all, it’s liquid, it’s a fluid; and perfume has a fluid quality in how it opens the top notes, and then transitions into the heart notes and then changes to the base notes so it’s really like a fluid journey. And mainly, it’s for anybody.
What do you think is the most important thing that you’ve learned from each other?
HR I think one of the biggest things I’ve learned from my mother is just to be who I am. I try to stay as ambiguous as I can and obviously that can get hard because sometimes there have to be labels to be able to fight for something. But aside from that, what I think I have learned the most from my mother is that no matter what life throws at you, you just pick yourself up and keep going forward. Use every little experience to push you forward, whether that’s in passing on the street or a project that didn’t go how you wanted. I have definitely been lucky enough to see the positive results of that.
LR One of the things I admire more than anything is how positive he is. It’s funny because I’ve sort of learned the same from him as what he has learned from me. But with Harris, I see him acting so proactively on that. He’s so positive and so focused and so he’s helping me learn to keep my thinking in that direction.
That’s great to hear how you feed off of each other in that way, I think that’s really powerful. The equity in your relationship is incredible, but obviously being from two generations, your experience growing up was different. When you look at each other, is there anything that you envy?
LR Well, growing up for me, my father was a police officer and my mom was very conservative, they had very traditional roles. I was always kind of the black sheep of the family. They were so conservative, and I wasn’t and I don’t know why or how. But for whatever reason, I always had a much more open mind than my family. I liked people who were different and a bit outside of the box. I thought them more interesting. But that’s not how my family saw things. I think it was hard for my parents when Harris was younger. My dad would tell me when Harris was little, “Get him into football. Get him into baseball”, and I would see that he didn’t want it. He wanted to take sewing class, so I put him in sewing class and ballet and drawing and anything he wanted to do. I think what I admire about people from Harris’s generation is they are more accepting and open than mine as a whole. But that isn’t to say there still aren’t a lot of very closed-minded young people and a lot of very open- minded older people. I actually hate generalizations.
Harris, is there anything that you envy from your mom’s generation? Even though we’re very lucky being from the time we’re in with more openness, you and your work seems to be inspired by icons like David Bowie or Mick Jagger.
HR I feel very lucky and content to be born in a time right now where this is something we are talking about on the phone. Not that it is super normalized yet, but it does feel like a normal thing to talk about, and I definitely wouldn’t have wanted to be born any other time. However, of course, the ’70s and ’80s, Studio 54 and Warhol. Those are the things that I envy, strictly for inspiration. A lot of brands are now using words like “androgynous” which really bothers me because it’s become so commercialized. But I think at the time those people like Bowie were just being who they were, there was no label even saying if it was fluid or if it was this or that. They were just people with a very genuine sense of who they were, and a vacancy of binary or category. Those people were almost the purest form of fluidity.
Do you think our generation is having an impact on previous generations’ mindsets?
LR I hope so. I think for people whose minds are open. I’m in my mid-50s and I have friends all the way down in their 20s to up in their 70s. Like my friend Joan, who is older than I am and every bit as open-minded, and then I have young friends who aren’t. I think people are beginning to open their eyes, yet I think so many people don’t know how to, they don’t want to or they are just not going to. I don’t know why, I don’t understand.
HR Of course I’m someone who constantly looks to history and the past to learn and grow. I ask my mom about her life experiences to help me shape my own decisions and choices today. Same is to be said for me informing my mother of the way our generation sees and views the world and the political and mental landscape. I think the more we embrace our individuality of today’s beings, we are a visual representation of tomorrow and change. We have an obligation as youth to make as much of a difference in today’s society as humanly, and well sometimes even spiritually, possible.
Bubblegum Club is one of the global youth platform partners in the launch of an initiative by CHIME FOR CHANGE and Irregular Labs to explore gender and our fluid future. To see more content access the report here.