Member Highlight: Sica Schmitz and Bead & Reel

Sica Schmitz HeadshotTell us a little bit about yourself: I’m your pretty typical story of small town girl moves to the big city with big dreams, finds out the ugly truth of the industry she loves, and decides to change it. After careers in Fashion Design and then Costume Design for film and television, I started Bead & Reel, an online boutique focused on ethical materials, manufacturing, and processes, combining my passion for fashion and style with my beliefs in environmentalism, humanitarianism, veganism, and feminism.

How did you hear about fair trade? When I was a teenager one of my first jobs was working in a local coffee shop. The owner required all new employees to watch a documentary about the coffee trade – I don’t remember its name but I remember it absolutely appalled me when I learned about the exploitation behind a seemingly innocent cup of coffee. She wanted us to understand the reality of what we were serving, and it worked. I became very interested in finding alternatives in coffee and ultimately in food, fashion, and all parts of my life.

Bead and Reel and peace exchangeWhen did you first get involved with fair trade?
I started first as a consumer – which is an easily accessible place for most people to start. Since launchingBead & Reel two years ago and building relationships with the fair trade brands we carry, joining Fair Trade LA, and now co-hosting our annual Fair Trade Fashion Show with The Peace Exchange, fair trade has become an every day part of my life – and I couldn’t be more happy about that.

7I7A2132What is Bead & Reel? Bead & Reel a one-stop shop for ethical fashion, where each piece and brand has been carefully hand picked for their thoughtfulness to people, animals, and the environment. Fair wages, vegan materials, and eco-friendly processes can be expected in our collection of women’s clothing, shoes, handbags, jewelry, and accessories – along with a small selection for babies and homes. I started Bead & Reel in 2014 after leaving my career in Costume Design in Hollywood to create the store that I wanted to shop in, somewhere that fit with both my own values and my love of fashion.

dolly_frontWe carry over 40 ethical brands and label every item in our store with the qualities it has so that shoppers can understand what they are supporting with each purchase – qualities like Female Founded, Fair Trade, Organic, etc. – because when we spend our money we are casting a vote either for or against the values a product holds, and I wanted to offer a better option for those who want to vote for a better world.

What do you enjoy the most about working in fair trade? I love the direct impact and the personal connections fair trade allows. It’s not just faceless products, it’s something that has a person, a story behind it. I love getting to work with so many different fair trade brands that are doing amazing and inspiring things all over the world, allowing me in my very small way to participate in the lives of artisans and families that I would otherwise never have had the chance to connect with.

What is unique about fair trade fashion? The fashion industry is extremely exploitative of people – especially women. Of the 40 million garment factory workers in the world, over 70% of them are women (and as high as 90% in some countries) and many are living below the poverty line. Shopping fair trade fashion is an extremely important tool in changing.

A lot of people have misconceptions about what fair trade fashion looks like – it’s not all colorful prints and alternative styles. We carry everything from fair trade basics like black leggings and t-shirts to elegant pencil skirts and cocktail dresses. There’s something available within fair trade for every aesthetic and price point!

Sica Schmitz Fair TradeDo you have any upcoming events or ways for people to get involved or learn more?
Yes! Our annual Fair Trade Fashion Show with our partner The Peace Exchange will be July 16, 2016 in DTLA. Tickets and sponsorship opportunities are still available, you can visit for additional information.

We are always trying to offer ways for our community to get involved in various aspects of ethical fashion whether through clothing drives, movie screenings, potlucks, and other regular events. Sign up for our newsletter to receive invites and join us!