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The Founder of Bead & Reel Practices What She Preaches
Written by Eco Fashion World - Friday, 04 August 2017



As the ethical fashion industry continues to grow and inch a bit further towards what we consider mainstream, we have seen a lot of inspiring brands and stores launch and put their product lines out into the world.  Some have stood the test of time, while others have had to withdraw to regroup.  Let’s be honest, the fashion industry is extremely competitive and it’s not just about great design, but also a good combination of entrepreneurial drive, fashion industry knowledge, solid focus, business and marketing savvy, organization, excellent listening skills, and vision for the future, amongst other things. Sica Schmitz of Bead & Reel has the recipe for success and the world is taking notice.  Here is a peek into how she came up with the idea for Bead & Reel, some of her strategies in selecting brands, inspiring and fulfilling moments, and what she sees for the future of Bead & Reel. 

Eco Fashion World:  What inspired you to put your heart, time, energy into launching ethical fashion boutique Bead & Reel? Give me a little background info on how it went from concept to launch and what sets B&R apart from other shops.

Sica Schmitz:  There's a saying, "You have to do what you can't not do," and that's how Bead & Reel was for me. The idea was born out of my own frustration as an avid shopper (both personally and professionally) with not being able to find styles that I felt good buying. So many of the vegan styles I found were not ethically-made, or the organic brands weren't making styles I would actually wear. I felt like I always had to compromise something - whether my values or aesthetic - and I didn't believe that was the only way fashion could be. I decided to create the store that I wanted to shop at, where everything was not only vegan, sweatshop-free, and conscientious, but also desirable and wearable. I couldn't not do that.

Part of what sets us apart is that we walk the walk - we support women-owned businesses because we are one. We carry vegan products because we are vegan-owned and operated. Every aspect of the business is something that I deeply believe in and live myself, and all of our choices are made out of this personal accountability.

And beyond what we sell, I am incredibly committed to helping women use fashion to create loving stories about their bodies. I bring my background in styling to our customers, for personal shopping and consulting, to help them use what they wear to honor their bodies and their relationships to others in the world.



EFW:  How did you come up with the name? What does it stand for?

SS:  A bead and reel is an architectural motif, a series of dashes and circles used in sculpture and design, which dates back thousands of years. It means many things to me, chosen originally for a deeply personal story and evolving into this idea that different shapes (ideas, people, values) can all be connected.


EFW:  What is your background - fashion, business, a little of both, or neither?

SS:  My background is in Costume Design for film and television, where I spent most of my career. Working in the costume department is a combination of storytelling, teamwork, management, and of course fashion, and I've found all of those skills translate ideally into Bead & Reel.

I especially love getting to use my background in styling and storytelling to help women tell kinder stories about themselves and their bodies.



EFW:  What are the key aspects you look to in vetting of the brands you carry?

SS:  Bead & Reel is about avoiding exploitation in fashion. So first and foremost, all of the products we carry are vegan, free of animal products like wool, leather, silk, or bone. Next, I look into manufacturing, whether that means Fair Trade, Made in USA, or other 3rd party or legal oversight to make sure that safe working conditions and fair wages are being honored. Beyond that, I look for brands that are making the world better through eco-friendly materials and charitable work, and I like to focus on small business and woman-owned brands.

And of course, everything has to be something that will make the woman wearing it feel beautiful.


EFW:  What has been the most inspirational moment so far since launch - the kind of moment that makes you think, “I am definitely doing what I am meant to do?”

SS:  Honestly, I wake up every morning sure that I am definitely doing what I am meant to do. That doesn't mean it's always easy (in fact, it's usually not!), but I never doubt that this is what I am supposed to be doing with my life. Sometimes it is inspired by big wins (like when Bead & Reel made it into a list of green businesses in Forbes before we'd even been open for a year), other times it is reinforced by more personal wins (like when someone tells me that they have changed the way they shop because of something they learned through one of our blogs or events). For every obstacle or challenge I encounter, there always seems to be twice as many rewarding experiences. And that's what keeps me going.



EFW:  What is the most fulfilling aspect of the work you do?

SS:  The relationships I've been allowed to build and the direct impact I get to see is so incredibly humbling and fulfilling. Each month we give back a portion of each sale to a new Charity of the Month, and I regularly hear about how our contribution is used to help save an animal or send a girl to school (or many of both). Each life counts to me, and I consider each life changed to be worth all the hard work we do at Bead & Reel.

I also love the private stories I hear from customers who have changed the way they shop or their relationship with their bodies. Just yesterday, I had a customer tell me that she heard me speak recently at one of our events about how we can use fashion to honor our bodies, and it inspired her to wear the things she loves even if they aren't what she previously thought was acceptable for her age or body type. Helping women use their clothing to build loving relationships with their bodies makes me so happy, because every woman - person - deserves to love themselves.


EFW:  What do you see for the future of Bead & Reel? (specific collaborations, projects, etc) and for the future of ethical fashion?

SS:  We just wrapped up our 3rd annual Fair Trade Fashion Show Fundraiser (where we raised over $31,000 to fight human trafficking!) and are gearing up for our next big event, the AWEAR Fashion Show in October during LA Fashion Week.  

I see so much momentum in Ethical Fashion as more and more people want to get involved as designers and educators and consumers. I'm incredibly optimistic about the kind of loving, inclusive world that we are all creating together, and I'm thrilled to get to be a small piece of it. 





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