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Topanga Soapworks
Photos by Christina Laughlin
Feature, Shop Local

Topanga Soapworks 

Across the pebbled courtyard, nestled in the corner against the deep red walls of Rosewood, resides an artist. Paintings grace the walls, their rich colors shifting the eye and spirit as one draws closer. But paintings are not the only art created here that moves the soul. An herbal fragrance washes over the senses, as shelves lined with bottles filled with golden-hued oils come into view. Like a modern day alchemist, Katie Schwipper is equal parts adventurer, explorer, scientist and creator. 

Katie’s story is as inspiring and moving as her art. After enduring a harrowing three month hospital stay, she knew her life needed a dramatic restart. Climbing Mount Olympus in Greece materialized as just the shift she needed, and Katie left within days of her hospital release. 

Katie found that a path of service would show her the way, “because when you don’t know how to live for yourself, you live for others.” That brave first step was the beginning of a seven-year journey that would take her from West Africa to Romania, working with traumatized children through the healing power of art. From her own life exploration, Katie knew how life affirming creative expression can be, and she was drawn to share that with the world.

Katie Schwipper in her studio at Rosewood. She is also a painter of fantasy and imagination. Photo by Christina Laughlin

While visiting her parents in Topanga Canyon, Katie met her husband, and soon settled in to raise their two young girls. Through the years, she came to realize that she wasn’t someone who took enough time to treat herself. She found that caring for the self, with forgiveness and compassion, is essential to healing ourselves, inside and out. 

As she grew to understand the power of self-nurturing, Katie was drawn to help others experience the truth that they, too, are deserving. She wanted to share with others the loving gesture of respite and self love, and guide them in the knowing that they deserve the highest quality ingredients and craftsmanship.

Katie had found solutions to her own health challenges using her naturally sourced creations, and was driven to share the power of plant medicine with others. Using her deep desire for knowledge, she dove in to find solutions for cases of dandruff, eczema, and psoriasis. And what she found worked. 

Katie dedicated herself to learning more, and sourcing only the highest quality ingredients from purveyors such as the female-owned Soaper’s Choice. Steering away from any toxic chemicals or preservatives, Katie continues to come up with new ways to provide the ultimate level of care, and that care extends beyond the health of her customers.

“We have to remember the bounty and untapped potential and potency of plant medicine,” Katie explains. With that comes a responsibility to the natural world that she takes to heart. “I lay awake at night thinking of plastics floating in the oceans five hundred years from now,” she says. 

Katie points out a bird flying past her window. “We need to do consumption differently, and transform our relationship to it. We need to replace harm with new discoveries.” This dedication and mind set has led Katie to craft recipes with zero palm oil, and create prototypes of new biodegradable containers from unexpected sources.  

Katie’s mind is brimming with vision for the future. Though Covid-19 has placed a hold on community offerings, that hasn’t slowed her excitement for what’s to come. “I want to bring power and intelligence back to the consumer,” she explained. Appointments for custom care are one way to do that in the current climate. Clients can book a consultation time with Katie in her light filled studio to create a curated care ritual for themselves that can be ongoing. 

“I love that customers can reach out and say, ‘this was a bit too oily’, or ‘let’s go creamier’ and we can work together to personalize each aspect. Everything can be customized, from scents, to ingredients, to feel”. 

Katie’s whole health approach extends to homecare, as well as four legged family members. The accessible price is another bonus, allowing everyone access to quality care. “I want to know that I’m providing the purest product I can to my customer,” she says. With the holidays approaching, Katie is hard at work assembling a gift collection of artistic handcrafted soaps. “Now is a great time for soap,” she says.

When asked how living in the canyon has influenced her, she explains it’s essential to her vision. Katie has been to 65 countries, and hasn’t found a spot like Topanga. “It’s the location, it’s the community and their creativity, openness, and commitment to preserving nature. There’s no place like it in the world.”

Katie’s Holiday Offerings

mixed deluxe gift boxes – $60

box of 3 soap boxes – $30

single box – $10

A postcard sized print of Katie’s art – $20 with all proceeds going towards her post-pandemic orphanage beautification project.

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