By Sica Schmitz
Founder of Bead & Reel, frequent speaker, writer, and sustainable stylist.
A critic is someone who enters the battlefield after the war is over and shoots the wounded.
– Murray Kempton
We live in a time of recreational outrage, and as the collective feelings of fear and anger on every side of every debate – whether justified or not – continue to grow without healthy outlets, they can bubble into dividing and toxic situations. I have seen this happening more and more around me as a misunderstanding or disagreement or even straight out lie coupled with a mob mentality can escalate into name calling, threats, and communities of conflict instead of connection.
And apparently now it’s my turn. Recently I unwittingly became the newest focus in an impassioned albeit misguided character assassination, all because I had the gall to tell a inconvenient truth, and the mob jumped in, eager for someone to vilify.
I’ve wondered how to address this situation. I thought about just ignoring all the erroneous accusations, not giving any attention or energy to claims about me that I and so many others know to be false. I pondered ways to gently bring facts into this diatribe that is dominated by misplaced feelings. I considered simply sharing the statements from my friends and colleagues who came to my defense, and letting their voices help lead others back to truth.
But the thing is, I genuinely don’t have the time or desire to argue with or stand up against every person who doesn’t really know my brand and isn’t familiar with my character and is uncomfortable with giving and receiving honesty. Bead & Reel has gotten big enough that it’s now a frequent target for bullies, and I’ve realized that ultimately the common and inane grievances against me and my company aren’t actually the issue: the real issue is that we’ve become a culture of critics instead of creators.
So many people have become obsessed with propagating opinions instead of actions, become fixated on validating their beliefs instead of working on solutions. They have decided that all it takes to be an expert in something is to read about or think about or care about it, instead of actually doing in it. The internet has given spectators a loud soapbox, while the builders and doers and makers are too busy…actually building and doing and making. And as I look at our divided country, I can’t help but think that the first step to bringing peace, integrity, and change to the forefront is to actually start by bringing it into (or back into?) our own sustainable fashion community.
Mixing a colorful graphic tee with a colorful print pant can blend two very different ideas into one unified, bold statement.
- Organic Tee: ROUND PLUS SQUARE
- Organic Pants: Matter Prints
- Vegan Jacket: Eco Vibe Apparel
- Vegan Bag: Jill Milan
- Vegan Shoes: Bhava
- Jewelry: Bead & Reel
In the midst of navigating this situation, I spoke to a trusted friend who works in politics. He is no stranger to scandals, hysterical press, and false accusations, and when he heard about these newest complaints issued against me he said, “Of course you’re being attacked. You made the mistake of telling the truth to liberals. Liberals don’t want the truth. They only want to hear whatever makes them feel good.”
I should note, both he and I identify as liberals.
And yet, I realized that he was right. You don’t have to look very far to find endless examples of this – including in our last presidential election.
We liberals have lofty ideals – we want freedom and justice and fairness and for everyone to be acknowledged and cared for. And this is wonderful. The problem is, however, that these ideals don’t always fit with reality. Yes, in a perfect world, many many many things would be different. But we don’t live in a perfect world (yet – but let’s keep working towards it, k!). Instead, we live in a complex world, ruled by laws and facts and economics via way of capitalism, along with an extreme disconnect between what people say or even believe and what they actually do. We live in a world filled with – let’s just guess – almost 7 billion issues and for some reason many liberals have decided that anyone who can’t possibly fix all of these issues is actually the opponent of progress. It’s not enough to do ten or twenty or one hundred things “right,” you’re only a good person, only a progressive person, only a sustainable person if you’re doing literally every single thing “right” and in the most progressive way possible.
And I don’t know a single person who is able to live up to this, and yet, these glass houses don’t prevent anyone from throwing stones. As much as I hear liberals bemoan conservative hypocrisy, I sadly see very few acknowledging that there is just as much on this side of the aisle too.
Things don’t have to be exactly the same to create cohesion. Pairing pieces that are a few tones or even a few colors apart can actually make for a much more unique look.
- Fair Trade Scarf: Bead & Reel
- Fair Trade Pants: Passion Lilie
- Organic Turtleneck: Devinto
- Vegan Bag: Jill Milan
- Vegan Shoes: Bhava
- Recycled Cutout Cuff: By Natalie Frigo
- Recycled Solid Cuff: Bead & Reel
I’ve been thinking a lot about what the lesson to be learned in this situation (since, I believe everything is a gift from the Universe, even when it comes in kind of a weird package), and I’ve realized that in my desire for inclusivity I’ve been trying to create a space that is comfortable and open for everyone, but actually Bead & Reel isn’t meant for everyone.
So, if you are wondering if this is the right place for you:
Bead & Reel is a place for integrity. I will tell you the truth, even when it’s unpopular. Even when it’s uncomfortable. Even when it isn’t not part of the progressive talking points. I will not sugar coat or hide things even if they are difficult to address. I will remain transparent in my choices. If this isn’t what you are looking for, then Bead & Reel is probably not the right space for you.
Bead & Reel is a place of compromise. I can’t personally solve all the world’s problems (sorry, I really wish I could!). I have to pick and choose my battles, every day, just as you do. And I choose absolutely as many as I can every time I can, but I am never going to be able to choose all of them every single time. If this isn’t what you are looking for, then Bead & Reel is probably not the right space for you.
Bead & Reel is a place for growth. I do things differently now than I did 5 years ago. I will do things differently 5 years from now. It’s pretty safe to guess that like most people l will never achieve perfection, but I will always strive to learn more, and do more, and do better. If this isn’t what you are looking for, then Bead & Reel is probably not the right space for you.
And most importantly: Bead & Reel is a place for action. I am genuinely not interested in gossip, in name calling, in one-upmanship (or one-upwomanship?), in shaming, or in being a sideline critic. I am going to spend my time working on solutions, not worrying about what other people are doing – or saying. If this isn’t what you are looking for, then Bead & Reel is probably not the right space for you.
Sometimes even things that seem completely opposite can work together. Contrasting colors featuring different prints can still create unity when they are brought together with even just one thing in common.
If you want comfortable lies and absolute truths, if you want to critique instead of act, if indignation is more your speed than collaboration, then honestly Bead & Reel is probably not the right space for you. And that’s okay. There here are plenty of spaces for what you’re looking for and I genuinely wish you the best in your journey.
But if you want to be a part of mixing and matching all of our different and beautiful colors and prints, to be a part of true change making, and driving things forward together, and creating solutions instead of talking about problems, and working within paradoxes and complexities and graceful disagreements, then I am truly grateful to have you as part of the Bead & Reel community.
My father used to say, “there are those that talk and those that do.” I will continue to be someone who does. Yes, you’ll hear me talking – I have a lot to say on the topics that I actively work in every day – but much more often, if you pay attention, you’ll see me doing, even when it’s complicated, or difficult, or unpopular. Especially when it’s complicated, difficult, or unpopular. And I am honored to have this Bead & Reel community doing complicated, difficult, and unpopular things right alongside me.
Model: Sica Schmitz
Photographer: Lucy Martin
Location: Port Book & News