ERICA REID IS ALREADY FAMOUS.
Marrying music producing mogul L.A. Reid put her name on the map, but that is only the surface of her public persona.A budding author, activist, and mother, Erica is one to watch. Yet, it seems she’s only scratched the surface when it comes to her career as an author, her philanthropic activism and her advocacy for issues affecting her own children and the nation’s youth.
It’s difficult to pigeonhole Erica into a single title. Her first book, The Thriving Child, to be released in May 2012, was born from her personal experience navigating the challenges of motherhood. Then there is her philanthropic side; she’s involved with several charities and even mentors young girls in a Harlem school.
And that’s not to mention her iconic style and her meticulously curated collection of couture and vintage finds. Erica’s closet is an enviable cacophony of designers such as Norma Kamali, YSL, Patrick Kelly, Preen and Alexander McQueen.
The common thread: Erica approaches her many endeavors with unyielding passion; a passion that continued to evolve throughout Erica’s life and ultimately was refined in tandem with motherhood.
“My children honestly helped me find passion,” Erica said. “The discovery of passion, passion for being a mother and being more in tune and aware with health–my children put me on that journey.”
Reid’s journey began in the simplest and most natural way– from her own experiences as a mother. She and L.A. have a daughter, Arianna, 11 years old; an 8-year-old son Addison, and their dog, Donut, completes the family.
It was from her role as a mother that Erica discovered her passion for advocating on their behalf and embracing an active role in her children’s lives.
“Our kids today are dealing with more social issues than we’ve ever had to think of, from the world of technology being right at their hands to bullying,” Erica said. “We have so many kids with allergies now, more than ever before.”
And it was from these experiences that her book was born. The Thriving Child aims to help other parents conquer the challenges faced when a child is diagnosed with allergies, asthma or skin irritations, all of which Erica dealt with in her own children. The book chronicles Erica’s initiatives to revamp the family’s diet after the allergy discoveries and her findings and subsequent advice she’s collected along the way. Erica incorporated the teachings of experts, doctors and other famous mothers to produce an all-encompassing guide to navigating these increasingly common challenges. The thriving child is for any parent or caregiver facing challenges aside from asthma and allergies. It’s not just for those with asthma, allergies and skin irritations; it is for common challenges and offers simple solutions.
Challenges, in fact, that Erica is still dealing with today.
Addison has deathly food allergies so she packs his lunches accordingly and works with his school’s administration to make sure that his allergies are being tended to without ostracizing him. Erica felt that Arianna’s past school was not nurturing her individual needs. So, in a bold but careful move, she transferred her middle school-aged daughter to a more supportive and hands-on school that has a focus on strong academics but more importantly, nurtures the entire child on an intellectual and physical level. It has made a world of a difference to Erica’s daughter and she has plans to move her son as well.
“When you do your homework and become aware, that’s when you realize and recognize there is always room for growth and change,” Erica said. “And you have to decide to really become brave and make a move for your children because at the end of the days that’s what it’s about.”
Erica is equally active in setting healthy examples for her son and daughter when they are at home.
“We’re trying to keep our home a haven of pure, fresh and as much organic food as possible. Organic foods are costly, so we try to decide what’s important to have organic or not,” Erica said. A healthy dose of physical exercise for the whole family is also big in the Reid household.
Equally admirable is her dedication to philanthropy. Besides the more expected membership to various non-profit boards such as Baby Buggy and support of the Studio Museum and Journey for Change, Erica mentors six girls at a charter school in Harlem.
“I try to show them to things that are out there,” Reid said of mentoring. “I treat them like I treat my own kids. I think that we learn through our environment, we learn through somebody open[ing] our eyes wider. If we are given that opportunity it makes a world of a difference. If no one is there to share and expose us we are only going to see what’s in our backyard.”
Her activities with “her girls,” as she calls them, include sampling different cuisines, going ice-skating in Rockefeller Plaza, teaching them how to read the newspaper and much more fun and educational moments together. Her hands-on approach to giving back is most certainly rubbing off on her own kids.
“My children are big on donating,” Erica said. “Prime example–this morning, my son came up to me and said, ‘Mom I want to donate this sweatshirt.’ He put the sweatshirt on and I guess he wasn’t feeling the fit. And I said ‘Ok that’s fine, take it off and put another one on.’”
And just like that, the sweatshirt found its way to Africa where Erica often sends clothing items, books, paper and markers to a village there.
Apart from her seemingly never ending passion, her writing chops and her enviable wardrobe, Erica advocates for her kids, is a devoted mother and is always dressed to within an inch of her life.
Perfectly styled and perfectly balanced? We couldn’t think of a better combination.