Today we’d like to introduce you to Sica Schmitz.
Sica, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I’ve always been rather obsessed with fashion. I went to school for fashion design in New York and then through a series of segues and detours (as tends to happen in life) I ended up working in costume design for film and television for many years, which is what originally brought me to Los Angeles.
After some personal and global events in 2012/2013 (the death of my father followed by the deaths of over 1,100 people in the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh) I became especially interested in the importance of how we use our limited time here on earth; how our choices impact others and how these impacts are the most important things we leave behind at the end of our own lives.
I wanted to make sure I left behind something I could feel proud of. I wanted my impacts to be about causing the least harm and the most benefit, which led me to veganism and a passion for fair trade. In 2014 I started my company Bead & Reel, which at the time was an ethical fashion ecommerce shop and over the years has grown and transitioned into one of the top-ranked sustainable fashion blogs, a network of conscious brands and media, and a consulting business.
One of the projects my company started was the Fair Trade Fashion Show in 2015. It was meant to be a one-time event but it was so well received that we continued to do it, and it is now its own nonprofit organization called Impact Fashion, which hosts this annual charity fashion show along with panels, workshops, activations, and a marketplace, all focused on connecting to and educating about more mindful fashion choices.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
My paths through entrepreneurship, activism, and honestly even just being a human have never been a smooth road!
Since the beginning of Bead & Reel and Impact Fashion I’ve had a series of difficult and disappointing partnerships, struggled with budget shortfalls, had to overcome burnout (several times!), and have had some really painful lessons around my natural tendencies towards people pleasing and being inherently trustful of others (tip: it’s lovely to be optimistic – but always have a contract in place!).
I’ve wanted to give up more times than I can count, had to change or pivot my business models and teams, and all but lost faith in humanity a few times. And this is just in business; of course personal struggles are always continuing to happen too, like break ups, depression, and the occasional existential crisis.
Ultimately the death of my son last year helped put everything back in perspective about what really matters and what is really worth fighting for. It reminded me again about how short our time is on earth and how important it is that we use it meaningfully, no matter how arduous that path might be.
What I’ve learned is that everyone’s story involves great hardships and great triumphs, especially anyone building their own business or building a better world. I don’t know of anyone who is offered a smooth road so it’s what we do with our time on these roads that truly matters.
And in the end, even with all the many challenges, this path has led me to some of the most amazing experiences, most beautiful relationships, and to get to live a life I can feel truly proud of.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Impact Fashion – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
Bead & Reel has shifted a lot over the years but what we are most known for is being a trusted and compassionate source of information within sustainable fashion, even when it means having difficult conversations or exploring uncommon topics. I used to be afraid of offending people or saying something that would be taken out of context but over time I’ve learned that it absolutely doesn’t matter what you do or say (or don’t do or say), someone will eventually be offended, someone will eventually take you out of context, so the most important thing is to continue being brave and being honest. This fearless authenticity at Bead & Reel is what I am most proud of.
Impact Fashion is one of the leading sustainable fashion events in Los Angeles (and the first vegan fashion show that I know of on the west coast!). What really sets us apart is our attention to ethics, far beyond what’s presented on the outside. We showcase fashion that is entirely vegan as well as entirely fair trade, and everyone involved shares our commitment to creating a better world, right down to our models. We focus on sustainability as a whole, aiming for as close to zero waste and circular as we possibly can in all of our decisions. This year we even have drop-offs for composting and pre-loved clothing and shoes to help our guests aim for zero waste and circularity in their own lives. What I’m most proud of is that we’ve continued to exist – and grow! – despite so many obstacles along the way. This year we’re going to impact over 2,000 people, something I never imagined when I first started doing this event or started working in this tiny space of sustainable fashion.
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
This year I’m really focusing on bringing more holistic mindfulness to Bead & Reel. Everything is connected – our food, our fashion, our health, our well-being, and I would like to see Bead & Reel continue to be a trusted destination around all of these. I really believe that healing ourselves and healing our world go hand in hand, so I am planning to offer more tools and resources for both, and grateful that I have a platform that allows that.
And what I’m looking forward to most with Impact Fashion is finishing out this year’s event on Fall 2020! It’s been a long time coming, a lot of work in the making, and I so look forward to finally getting to see the finished result and share in it with everyone who has helped make this year’s show possible.
- Website: www.impactfashion.org, www.beadandreel.com
- Email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @impactfashionshow, @beadandreel
- Facebook: /impactfashionshow, /beadandreel
- Twitter: @impactfashionLA, @beadandreel
Bryan Flores Jr.; Impact Fashion; Julie Lawrence