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Meet Katie Schwipper of Topanga Soap Works and Fine Art

Today we’d like to introduce you to Katie Schwipper.

Katie, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I believe in the healing power of art. I spent seven years during my twenties doing art therapy abroad with children from profoundly traumatic situations and environments. I worked with disabled orphans who had been chained to their beds in insane asylums in the mountains of Transylvania, refugees in the West Bank, children of prisoners living in prisons in West Africa, sex trafficking victims in Albania, and other populations. These experiences taught me about the depths of both despair and joy, beauty and pain.

I have now settled in beloved Topanga where I am the artist-in-residence at The Rosewood. My paintings juxtapose renditions of the children’s drawings I collected during my travels with more realistic elements in an exploration of dissociation and absurdity. The dripping paint conveys the disrupt from reality and disintegration of self that trauma incurs, and the fragility of the human condition. I strive to find an unsettling balance between sweetness and sinister, dream and nightmare, with recurring themes of loss of innocence. My bright palette is shaped by the malaria prophylaxis medication that causes psychotic, colorful, acid-trip dreams. The recurring theme of a patchwork sky represents the intentional evaluation and reconstruction of oneself and one’s life in the healing of trauma, an ongoing creative and self-reflective process. I believe that art can guide oneself in the ultimate task of knowing oneself and healing from trauma.

Likewise, I believe that self-love and self-care are important vehicles for healing. That is why I started Topanga Soapworks and devote half my studio time to handcrafted top quality soaps and skincare. I use only the finest and most ethically sourced ingredients and put great pride in my small batch excellence. It’s not just about top-notch skincare devoid of harmful chemicals or preservatives, but rather it’s about caring enough for yourself to pamper yourself and indulge in the luxury of sumptuous artisanal cold process soap. Self-love is the answer to overcoming the toxic shame resulting from trauma.

Has it been a smooth road?
I had many misadventures during my travels alone as a young female. One of the more memorable occasions was in South America when I became so ill that I had to get tied to a mule that brought me to a jungle witch doctor. I survived with the help of plant medicine. I came to deeply respect the power of plants, which I now harness for my skincare line.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Topanga Soap Works and Fine Art story. Tell us more about the business.
Topanga Soap Works offers organic skincare at the pinnacle of quality and artistry. My handcrafted moisturizing soaps are made with butters and oils pressed from the seeds of plants found on this extraordinary and bountiful earth. I utilize a wide variety of potent plant extracts, steam-distilled hydrosols, and botanicals grown locally in the Santa Monica Mountains.

I believe harmful chemicals have no place on our skin, in our bodies, or in our environment. My products are free of parabens, phthalates, sodium laurel sulfate, silicones, and formaldehyde. No corners are cut for profit in my uniquely pure recipes — I take great pride in my small batch excellence. Rooted in belief that we must collectively realign consumption in harmony with earth, I strive to avoid plastic or unnecessary packaging and offer discounts on refilled vessels.

I’m dedicated to complete honesty and transparency with my customers. I want to educate the discerning consumer on self-care utilizing plant medicine and all the potent natural ingredients in my uniquely top quality product line.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
In addition to getting my art seen, I plan to enrich my community by curating and hosting showings and events in my space at The Rosewood — a most incredible facility and co-working community here in Topanga. It’s hard to translate this vision into these pandemic times, but we are working on a plan. I also enjoy offering classes in painting or soap making and plan to organize a larger life-drawing class as well.

For my skincare, I hope to educate people on ingredients and empower them with information most of all. I hate how deceptive skincare feels these days. I would like to bring more individuals into my studio-lab to cultivate a custom-tailored skincare routine. I also hope to grow my monthly gift box subscriptions — who doesn’t need a recurring beauty box or supply of uniquely beautiful and rich handmade soaps? This business is in its extreme nascency, so it’s hard to say what’s ahead; I just know I will be continuing to improve and create.

Pricing:

  • 60z (giant) bar of artisanal cold process soap, $10
  • box set of three 6oz (giant) bars of artisanal cold process soap, $25

Contact Info:

  • Address: 1111 N Topanga Canyon Blvd
    Topanga, CA 90290
  • Website: www.topangasoapworks.com
  • Phone: 3342333552
  • Email: topangasoapworks@gmail.com
  • Instagram: topangasoapworks
  • Facebook: topanga soap works


Image Credit:

Canvasing The World, LLC

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