My name is Josh Schmitz and I am the owner of RUCKUS Apparel. I am also a son, brother, community leader at RED Denver (a local Denver community outreach), partner at a Denver tattoo shop, published writer, independent voter and former All-American collegiate rugby player. But, none of those really define “who I am”. I don’t think what you do for a job, or what you have accomplished, or any other title you carry can define who you truly are. I think it was my homie Tyler Durden who said it best;
“You're not your job. You're not how much money you have in the bank. You're not the car you drive. You're not the contents of your wallet. You're not your fucking khakis.”
Blunt as it may be, isn’t that the truth? What would it look like if we were all judged and defined by those things? In that case, I would be a fashion pimp (based upon my job), I would be broken down (like my truck), I’d be poor (based upon my checking account) and I would be filled will old useless junk (like my wallet).
I believe that I am more than that. I believe you are more than that too. My beliefs run deep and the deepest one is that I believe in Jesus. Yes, THAT Jesus. Virgin born; died on a cross; rose from the dead, world-savior Jesus.
Because of this belief, I am often asked, “How can you run a company that uses sexy models? How can you use curse words? What is DEATHCREW ? How can you be friends with gay porn stars, criminals, Satanists, anarchists, rejects, and God forbid, even Liberals?! These are all good questions, that they have even better answers. The problem is - most people don't stick around to hear them.
Let me share with you some of my core beliefs… First, I am not qualified for ministry, fact of the matter is that no one truly is. But Jesus on the other hand, is extremely qualified. So, at my core – I just want to introduce people to Him. I was recently at a leadership retreat at a home in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. And while we were sitting around the table drinking some wine, my friend Trevor posed the question, “Who in the bible, what biblical character, do you most identify with?” I sat and listened as the 6 guys who I look up to most in my life went around the table saying names like David, Paul, Peter, Moses, etc – all amazing biblical men. But when it was my turn, I think caught everyone by surprise. I’m sure they were expecting me to say someone random like Shamgar or Sampson, or some other obscure Old-Testament badass, but what came out was not one person; it was actually a small group of people. It was this little group of dudes that had a paralyzed friend.
They heard that Jesus was coming into town, so they carried their paralyzed friend on his mat to see Jesus, believing the rumors they had heard about Him were true. Deep down they believed that Jesus would have the power to heal their friend. But, when they got to the house where Jesus was staying it was packed with people, they couldn’t even get in the front door. So what did they do? They climbed onto the roof, bringing their paralyzed friend with them - cut a hole in the roof of the house and lowered their friend down right in front of Jesus… where he was healed.
I have sick, paralyzed friends… friends that were burned by the church, (and its followers)… friends who are broken and lonely and hurting… friends who feel un-loved, undeserving, unappreciated, unworthy, unwelcomed… friends who would never in their life consider stepping into a church. And the truth is I can’t save them, I am not qualified. But, at my core I truly believe that Jesus can. So, in the same vein as these guys in the bible, I am going to do whatever it takes to get my friends into the same room as Jesus. I don’t care if I have to break the rules, cut some holes, I have no problem doing that - because I know His power, and I know what being in the same room as Him can do.
And that’s my heart - I desperately love the lost, the hurt, the broken, the tired, the confused. I know that the things of this world cannot bring them the love and acceptance and fulfillment they need. But something that I’m very good at is cutting some holes, breaking some rules, getting my hands dirty, and getting my friends into a room with Jesus. Even my most Atheist and God-hating friends actually like Jesus, what they don’t like is usually his crazy ass followers and all the other bullshit that comes along with religion. We don’t know who it was that lowered their friend through the roof, we never learn their names. But, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were just normal people just like me and you. And that, is exactly why I like them.
So, why don’t I use my influence and platform for more “public expressions of faith”? This is an interesting question because I honestly feel like my beliefs come through quite a bit in everything I do. But here is another one of my core beliefs: You don’t need a cape to be a super hero. During the life of Jesus, numerous times after He did something miraculous, He would say something to the people nearby. He cured a man with Leprosy and said, “tell no one”. He healed two blind men and stated, “say nothing to anyone”. Jesus was not about hype or self-promotion. He never ran for office for political power, he wasn’t trying to become a King, he didn’t need people to think he is incredible. So with things like “Mission statements” or “Statements of Faith” - Why in the world do you think you need a catchy two-sentence statement to talk about how noble you are? Wouldn’t you be more noble if you didn’t talk about it and just went out there and did it?? I guess what I am trying to say is that there is no point in me writing some hollow blanket statement to try and change the world… Because I guarantee my barber doesn’t know, or care about that shit. I’d rather trade all of the religious jargon for the chance to invite just one person into experiencing the real character of Jesus.
About the girls... We don’t do castings, or open callings. Every person we use is hand-selected based off of a number of things. They are our friends, family, brothers, and sisters. I run RUCKUS like every person in this company is my own blood. We never put girls in compromising situations or ask them to do things outside their comfort levels. We never shoot nude, or even implied nude. I am protective over our models like they are my sisters. Are the images sexy – sure. The girls we use are beautiful, but we are a professionally run operation here – no one is ever singled out, or made to feel uneasy. And all the girls walk away from every photoshoot feeling encouraged, motivated, uplifted, and honored. Here are some words from the models themselves;
Athena : I think that Ruckus really stands apart from other companies in the fashion industry because of their loyalty and family mentality. Ruckus operates on a very different set of morals than I would argue any other company, making them a very positive influence on the industry. It is so important to operate a company as a family in order to be successful, and this is exactly what Ruckus has created. Modeling for Ruckus is completely different than modeling for any other company.
Manda : Modeling for Ruckus is more like hanging out with friends and having a good time while photos are being taken. I would say it’s more of a family party with a bunch of good looking people! Really at the core modeling can make me feel two ways. The first, being Fierce and Badass. When a shoot goes well and you are having fun there is nothing better. You feel good about what you’re doing and it is encouraging. That’s how it is shooting with RUCKUS. The second however, is insufficient and insecure. There is nothing worse then getting in front of a camera and feeling like the people around you are not pleased with what you are doing. At this point it’s really hard to turn a shoot around and you generally leave feeling pretty shitty. I’ve never felt like that modeling for RUCKUS. Ruckus is a great addition to the fashion industry. We are constantly setting Denver's standards higher and developing a larger name for the industry in Colorado. Not only are we continuously surprising people with how well we can accomplish every event, but from my perspective models are able to create a name for themselves as ambassadors to the company.
Mandi : Modeling for Ruckus is totally different than any other company. We are a family based company and everyone has each others backs, we are not there to tear each other down but to build each other up in each thing that we are passionate about. Ruckus models can always count on each other not to be catty or vicious. RUCKUS is something different; it's original, unique and REAL. The experience is different and exciting; and the people are genuine and so loving.
What is “Death Crew”? First off - DEATHCREW is not a gang. DEATHCREW is a belief system. It’s a belief system that at the time of Death, there should no fear, for we know we spent out heartbeats the right way, and we invested them in the right things. DEATHCREW is a way of life that will leave you laying on your deathbed being surrounded by people you love that will defend your name - not surrounded by people you don’t know with lonely trophies and only a Will baring your name.
People fail to realize that how they spend their time is more important that anything else. A lot of people trick themselves into thinking that what they do in life is beneficial, but then they get so frustrated when they don’t see the results they want. You know you can say – “oh, I went to they gym today, and I’m better off because of it”, but the real question you have to ask yourself is – What did I do in the gym today? What did I really do, and how did I do it? Honestly it doesn’t matter that you were there, there is NO credit for just showing up. It’s about your effort, and doing the activity right. And this applies to all areas of you life - school, your job, your relationships, everything. Being there isn’t enough, showing up isn’t enough. It’s about taking pride and doing things right, even down to the small things like cleaning the dishes, or cleaning the house. Because if you can’t clean the house right, how can you expect to ever run a fortune 500 company right? And all DEATHCREW members understand that – that they are gong to give it their all to every single task they have to do – because time is so precious. Ask yourself – what are you going to do today, but more importantly – how are you going to do it? And in the end when Death is near, it’s simply victory for a life well spent. And, if Death is the victory, how afraid of life can we be?
DEATHCREW is about leaving a legacy that says “I wasn’t perfect, I wasn’t even close… but at least I tried.” I encourage you to join us.
I hope this clears up any questions about the way we run things, or how we operate.
Above everything, the Jesus I know - came to save the world, not condemn it. The Jesus I know - overflows with peace, forgiveness, grace, mercy, acceptance and understanding… not hate, judgment, persecution, condemnation, and fear. I am just trying to be more like him. (Sorry if this article was too personal; I hope you guys still eat our chicken sandwiches.)
Questions / Comments / Hate / Etc – Holler@ruckusapparel.com