Early last month, I was scrolling through my Twitter feed when one of the people I was following shared a tweet from Braylee Schmidt, the creator of BABE, or Babes Against Bully Everyday. I connected with her clothing brand, not only because of the title, but because the message.BABE is a company that was started to bring awareness to the severity of bullying, specifically cyberbullying. Braylee wanted to break down the walls of the internet and the idea that people’s worth is measured by numbers (followers, likes, etc..). She explained, “Anyone has the ability to be friends with anyone, no one out there is better than the next person. We all have things that create common ground between one another and it just takes getting to know someone for who they are as a person to realize that. I want to create a safer online environment, and end the idea that if someone is being mean to you online, you should just stay off of it. That should never be the answer.” Like many others that I am close with, Braylee, has been “bullied” online. She explained that, “Hands down, my biggest inspiration to starting this company we’re the people who did, and still do “bully” me online. I started the company when I was 24 and was still receiving hate mail on Tumblr *insert eyeroll here*. I honestly thought that it would end after high school, but it didn’t.” To this day, Braylee has fake accounts that will respond to her Instagram stories calling me ugly or saying things just to put her down. “It’s honestly unreal,” she said. “My inspiration to this day for keeping the company alive and wanting to create a safe space, is all the stories that people send me of their experiences. It sounds sad, but it really does make you feel less alone knowing you’re not the only one going through something.” One of the most important things about this clothing brand is that 15% of the proceeds are directly donated to the Cybersmile Foundation. Braylee says that she loves the Cybersmile Foundation because “there really isn’t anything they WON’T do, or cover.” The Cybersmile Foundation provides resources for all age groups, even into the corporate world. It’s a “one-stop-shop” if you will, for support. “I think it’s also very respectable that not only do they want to help those affected by cyberbullying, but those who have been a bully themselves, and ways to change negative behavior. We both have the same goal in mind, which is to create a safer online environment.” Take a second to watch the official video for the launching of BABE!
So Braylee describes her designs as “designs that are intended to turn heads and to promote conversation around the harm and increasing issue that is cyberbullying.”She said that the whole point of her company is to be more than just some cool pieces of clothing. Every design is geared towards being a kind person, but with a little edge. Hence the sayings like, “Kill them with Kindness” written on a headstone. “I think the funniest thing about BABE is that I’m not some super girly girl who loves hearts and saying the word babe all the time. My closet is 90% mens oversized tees and band merch, so I love being able to mix a meaningful message with designs that are my personal style.” Looking at the available designs, it’s clear that Braylee has succeed with this design goal. I had to ask what her favorite piece has been so far. “AHH! It’s honestly so hard to pick a favorite, because I wouldn’t release something that I don’t love or wouldn’t wear myself. If I HAD to pick based off of starting a conversation, I’d probably say any of the pieces that say “don’t be a bitch” on them.” Before she launched, she asked a few friends what they thought of that saying and having it be on the front of a shirt. Every person she asked said it was way too harsh and not to do it. “For some reason I just loved it so much and it resonated with me and what I wanted the company to be about. Talking about cyberbullying is uncomfortable for a lot of people, it can be harsh, just like the saying on the shirt. I want to push people out of their comfort zones to talk about this issue that is very real and very alive today, so I said f*ck it and released it and ironically enough it’s my best seller!” May is Mental Health Awareness Month, as we know bullying is tied to mental health. BABE will be continuing to be a safe place for people to tell their stories and make friends. One thing specifically that will be happening in May is an online meet-up! It will be an open invite Zoom call on Friday, May 8 for anyone to pop in and meet some new people and have some human interaction during all of this quarantine madness! Braylee is hoping that this will help expand the idea that you can still make friends all over the world, online, while being stuck at home. Everyone has been spending a lot more time online during our current pandemic, which definitely raises more concerns for cyberbullying. If you’re worried about cyberbullying in anyway, Braylee suggests to be the bigger person. “It’s hard sometimes depending on the severity of what someone may be saying to you online, but just know that most times bullying comes from something that person is going through on their own and projecting onto you. REACH OUT, and be open to being vulnerable. Don’t be afraid to lean on someone who has gone through something similar. There is no weakness in being honest about the things you are going through. It may seem difficult, but keep those harsh people in your thoughts, because they’re probably facing an internal battle much bigger than they can handle on their own. Combat hate with kindness.”
Braylee and BABE want everyone to practice positive connections and kindness online, as opposed to toxic ridicule. She says that you should take a step back and don’t fall into the toxic ridicule. Even though she isn’t the best at following her own advice, she knows that it’s easy to just give into what those people are saying, and to believe what they are saying about you is true.But it’s not. Most likely these people probably don’t even know you well enough to be saying anything remotely accurate about you. “I’ve learned to allow myself maybe two minutes to cry about what people say to me, because there’s not doubt, that shit hurts. They cut deep, but then you have to allow room for the kindness in your own heart to seep through the cuts they leave. Kindness for yourself first, and then for those who do this to other people. Talk to the people who know you best, whether that’s a friend or a family member. Let them remind you that you are special and you are loved, and you are not who these people make you out to be. It’s okay to need to be reminded of what makes you, YOU.” If you’re looking to start a clothing business like Braylee did, she says just go for it. “There’s literally no way for this to not sound hella cheesy and cliche, but JUST GO FOR IT! If there’s enough passion behind it, it will succeed.” “At the end of the day, we’re all humans. Whether you’ve been a victim to any form of bullying, or have been mean to people yourself, it’s never too late to take the steps to make this world a little more kind. Oh, and let’s be friends!”