EXCLUSIVE: Ciara and Russell Wilson Talk The House of L, R&C, Giving Back and Seattle

Ciara and Russell Wilson are trying to rewire fashion with love, respect and care.

Aside from naming their direct-to-consumer company The House of L R&C and building in a give-back foundation, the power couple has introduced 13 Commitments to foster inclusivity, collaboration and unity.

The aim is to be a sustainable company that has an impact not just on culture and through technology, but on the health of the world, according to Wilson, the Seattle Seahawks quarterback, entrepreneur and investor. The husband-and-wife team hope to impact and inspire not just this generation but generations to come. Wilson said, “Hopefully, we can have real change around the world because of The House of L R&C. Those three values — love, respect and care — are global values that we all need. It starts with our home, but also our team and our partners. It goes to our community.”

The 13 Commitments are meant to help address issues like immigration, Black Lives Matter, BIPOC, equality and the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery in the U.S. Emphasizing the importance of each, Wilson went through the list one-by-one — The Good Book, Storytelling, Everyday Heroes, Black Advisory Group, Hire Black Talent, Black Culture, Special Prints, Give Back, Register to Vote, Feedback Community, Black and Minority Leaders, Choose the Good You Give and Representation.

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In December, The House of LR&C launched the sustainable streetwear label Human Nation. It also has The Good Man brand, which debuted in 2016, and separately fragrances were introduced last fall. Former Lululemon chief executive officer and Starbucks alum Christine Day is cofounder and president of The House of LR&C. The company donates 3 percent of every purchase to the Why Not You Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to education, children’s health and fighting poverty. “Not only are we doing fashion, but we’re doing good in the world. We think that it is important to be good, to feel good and to continue to do good. The idea of name Human Nation is to really honor who we all are. We’re all different. We all look different. We need to be able to understand that we should all be under one common goal — to love, respect and care,” Wilson said.

While being an elite NFL player or a multitalented Grammy-winning performer alone would be a massive undertaking, the duo’s achievements include myriad enterprises and charitable initiatives, as well as young children. Ciara said, “It’s really a balancing act. We give a lot if credit to our team. We always say, ‘Teamwork is dream work.’ As Russell mentioned, it’s been an incredible joy.”

Tim Armstrong, founder and CEO of the dtx company, has also been involved. His team at Flowcode pitched in with QR technology. Repeatedly citing Day’s involvement with the digital-first company, Ciara said, “For Russ and I, with everything we do, we want to be the best at it. So why not work with the best? It’s a balancing act, organized chaos, a lot of parts. But we wouldn’t be able to do it, without our team involved. That’s across the board from the House of LR&C to what Russell does in sports, and everything he’s doing there, all our investments, what I do in music with my company BME [Beauty Marks Entertainment] and his company with West to East. We take pride, in who we are and in our beliefs, but also in our team. We really wouldn’t be able to do it without them.”

Intent on creating a lasting brand that uplifts individuals, Wilson said the way he looks at it is, “‘Why not? Why wouldn’t we do something?’ In the midst of everything that is going on in the world, it is our responsibility to bring love, respect and care. That’s not just in The House of LR&C but to give back. It’s one thing to create great fashion and all that, and there are so many great things coming up in the future with Ciara and more,” he said. “We’re really hoping that when we look back at it 20, 30, 40 years from now, we’ll say, ‘Man, we really impacted a lot of people’s lives.’”

Given their global stardom and social media reach, the couple has no shortage of business propositions and endorsement deals. Asked to estimate their combined yearly tally, Wilson suggested more than several hundred from small to big. While Ciara gets the lion’s share, Wilson said he gets stuff here and there and they get offers together — “all the way from our kids and more. We’ve been blessed to have opportunities but more importantly, we’ve been blessed to be able to choose authenticity. To be able to spend a lot of our time, energy and resources into The House of LR&C has been really exciting,” Wilson said.

WWD: How much was job creation a motivation in all of this?

Russell Wilson: That’s been a big part of it. Obviously, to be able to create a fashion house in the middle of a pandemic is a challenge in itself, right? It’s been such an amazing journey to have such a great leader in a woman like Christine Day. I sit over here as one of the cofounders and what’s really cool about it is I get to be around two powerful women — Ciara and Christine. I get to marvel at all the amazing things they think about and do. This company is led by women. Our CFO [Monica Stevenson] is amazing, too. For her to be a minority, too, and to lead the show for us. Ciara would love to talk about [poet and performer] Jamal Parker and how he wrote the anthem. Even my sister [Anna], who goes to Stanford, has been involved with the journey. She’s a creative person and she helped to put together some of the community. It’s been a really cool journey to collaborate with some of the best minds and business leaders. We’re fully in tuned and invested in that, and creating job opportunities and giving people equal opportunities no matter what the circumstances are, especially for minorities.

WWD: What does it mean to announce the 13 Commitments during Black History Month?

Ciara: …just considering all that we’ve been through as a community, it’s important that we keep the conversations going, right? That’s how you grow. You grow through conversation and awareness. There’s been some progress from years and years ago, but there’s a lot more progress that needs to be made and a lot more change that we all hope to see. Or at least, you would hope we all hope to see. It’s also important to be committed in life. Whatever it is that gets you going, or that you’re passionate about, commit to it. We’re committed to the foundation that we’re standing on, which is love, respect and care. All of those 13 Commitments are part of our journey, mission and message.

WWD: Why is it important to have ownership as opposed to working with an existing brand or another organization?

Ciara: Ultimately, it’s to do what your heart desires. In our case, it’s our hearts’, creative minds’ and creative souls’ desire. I can say, and I’m sure Russ can say the same thing, going on my own personal journey and owning my masters in music, running my own label, and being able to be creative and wear my entrepreneurial hat has been the most empowering feeling I’ve ever felt in my life. Music was where everything started for me. My first album was about 16 years ago. Understanding the power of ownership is really inspiring. It’s also about creating a legacy and ultimately being able to create opportunities for our children’s children…there’s a lot of inspiration and motivation behind it. Honestly, [having] the true passion to do it, to each his own. Anyone out here, trying to hustle is always great.

R.W.: Being able to create opportunities for so many different people and to embolden women, people with disabilities and people of color, and Black people in particular, has been an amazing journey for us as to business owners and being part of really, truly building a great business. You know sports and music are the two most entertaining things in the world. But if you add sports, music, and fashion, we’ve got something going on.

WWD: Many companies have vowed that they need to improve diversity within their companies and beyond. What is the best way to hold them accountable?

R.W.: Listen, we are concerned about how other people do things, but hopefully we can be a great demonstration for everybody else. We’re not in those board meetings or in those rooms, unfortunately. What I do know is that in our meetings and daily conversations about building our business and community, we want to be able to continue to be a leading force, not just culturally but in business. That’s why we have some amazing investors, partners and team of people. They’re super excited to join us because they know the center of our focus is to make an impact. That’s just who Ciara is. From the moment I met her, she’s always been that way. I gravitated toward that. Hopefully, she gravitated toward me, too. But I think I gravitated more toward her.

WWD: Style is integral to what you do, but it seems like the heart of your company is asking people to look inward to help make a difference in the world. Is that fair to say?

Ciara: Absolutely. We’ve been speaking about “impact, impact” at the forefront of all of our thoughts. When you buy a shirt for someone from The House of LR&C, it’s the gift that keeps on giving. When you buy into us or the brand, you’re also being a part of impacting lives. We give back 3 percent of the profit. We’re a give-back first company so we give back before we make anything. Obviously, the fashion world is a crowded world, right. It’s important for whoever enters this market to come in from a different angle and do something that sets yourself apart. This has always been a part of everything we’ve done. From the beginning of The Good Man brand, the 3 percent concept was there…we want to have really beautiful designs so that you love how it looks but underneath it all, you’re giving back in the same process.

WWD: Do you ever speak with Serena [Williams] about business?

Ciara: We talk about it all from personal to professional conversations. She is someone who I really respect and admire. She really has it all. Some people could be amazed by how smart she is. When she is not in her zone of being, who she is on the court, she is just as great off-the-court. She just has an incredible mind and is an incredible person. Everything she does, she puts her best into it. I really respect her for all that she does and how she does it.

Models wearing Human Nation designs. Courtesy of Human Nation

WWD: You and Russell each excel at precision in that you have to take a long view in what you’re doing.

Ciara: I think you don’t ever get involved with something without having clarity on the full vision for it. That’s just who we are. We don’t start something that we can’t finish. If we’re involved with something, we give our all….They say, “If you do what you love, you never work a day in your life.” That’s how we are blessed to live. It’s a blessing to wake up every day knowing that we’re doing exactly what we want to do. It really is about having the business, writing it down, making sure the business is clear and about execution. The ultimate goal is that everything is a success. Obviously, everything is not going to be perfect. But that is always the ultimate goal. As I said, it’s also about legacy.

WWD: How has the fragrance business done? (R&C The Fragrance Duo debuted in November.)

Ciara: It’s been really fun. It was one of those things that was on both of our check lists. Considering the time that we are living in under the pandemic, it made for good fun as well. We found some joy in the midst of the storm, by still keeping our weekly date night tradition. We do it every Friday…there was a lot of love we put into those bottles. Pun intended. But it’s been really fun, definitely learning a lot. So far it’s been really successful. That’s definitely motivating when you feel like you’re doing something right.

WWD: Russell, will you stay in Seattle or do you think you’ll move on?

R.W.: Oh, I love Seattle. Seattle is a special place. All I can say is that I’ve been blessed to be in Seattle. It’s so cool. We obviously love it there.

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