THE POWER OF STORYTELLING: Katja Schmolka’s Journey from Vienna to Malibu
1. Tell us about your success journey from Vienna, Austria to Malibu?
I was born and raised in Vienna, Austria into an artistic family. Nobody except for me, pursued a career in the creative field though. My mom would sing, play the guitar, the piano and had a real talent in drawing and painting. My grandmother and aunt would knit the most beautiful , extraordinary cardigans. I sewed my first skirt with the help of my aunt and cousin at the age of twelve, and I was really proud of it. I remember clearly how it looked like. It was a white pencil skirt, so tight that I hardly couldn’t move in it. But it looked really cool!
At the age of fourteen I enrolled into a public High School for Fashion & Garment Engineering & Design in the Palace of Hetzendorf in Vienna. It was really hard to get into this school and required a portfolio of drawings and a two day entrance examination. After five years of drawing, pattern making, sewing and creating our very own collections that we presented at the end of the school year in a fashion show in the enchanting park of the castle, I started my career at the age of twenty as a fashion stylist working for fashion magazines and advertising clients. I was lucky to work right out of school. Still can’t believe how lucky I was, today. After several years of working as a fashion stylist for various fashion and women’s magazines in Vienna, — putting together fashion editorials, I moved to Milan. I remember still my custom made black leather portfolio that had my name on it, filled with really cool tear sheets from my fashion editorial work, my red car, my three bags and off I went all by myself to Milan. A real adventure! Through a contact of a Make Up Artist that I had worked with in Vienna on a job — I got a referral to a women’s magazine called Anna from Rizzoli Publishing House. The editor in chief loved the fact that I spoke Italian and she loved my work, so she hired me to first assist other fashion editors. After a while I would become a fashion editor myself working for this magazine. I had a real great time in Milan and learned a lot there. After that I spent some time in Vienna working as a Fashion Editor In Chief for a women’s magazine and several advertising clients, among others for Swarovski which was very exciting because it was a very creative work. I then moved with my family to New York City, worked there mostly as a fashion journalist reporting from New York Fashion Week. I also conducted interviews with folks from the fashion, film and art world for different European magazines, also for ZIP Magazine that I had founded in New York 10 years ago — and just gave up recently to make room to pursue my acting career.
From New York City we then came to Malibu. The first time we set foot on here we were literally enchanted. Such a divine beauty! We really love the lifestyle here in California. I am still working as a fashion stylist, journalist and I founded my company Scent Clouds — a boutique aromatherapy lifestyle brand based on the beauty of real scents and their healing powers. Our mists, candles and soaps are clean, vegan, hand-made and infused with Amethyst crystals — inspired by Viennese Art Deco and the pristine beauty of Malibu. I created Scent Clouds for artists to help them get into the zone through scents. Scents work instantly. They can calm you, wake you up, inspire you — they have so many different traits.
Since about two months I have been focusing on my career as an actor and it really gives me wings to fly. I have been in acting training on and off since about ten years but never had the courage to put myself out there. I had started doing my digital interviews and a. short film a few years ago so I got some experience in front of the camera already — but now it’s really about auditioning, putting myself out there and being on set, participating in Independent Film projects. I have been learning so much! I am very grateful for this experience. I have such a passion for storytelling because there is also the spiritual aspect involved. Great stories, no matter if from real life or sci -fi touch peoples souls!
2. What advice would you give to young girls who want to follow your footsteps as an actress, writer, fashion stylist -editor?
Pursue your dreams and let nothing — and no one come between them. We are all born with special gifts and instinctively we know them. Find a school where you can learn the craft or get the education you need in order to pursue a career in the field of your heart wish. Be passionate, do the work, — and it is a lot of work! In Austria we have the saying: “Preparation is the whole life!” The more you put into your work, — your projects the higher the reward will be because you literally become one with it — and then everything is in flow which is also the best for the whole team. Tell people what you are up to, so others might refer you or might have ideas of projects where you can participate. I have learned that people like to help. But they can only help if we share! Do your own projects as well to grow as a human and artist. Travel a lot (when the pandemic is over and it is safe to travel) — inspire yourself by other cultures, countries, nature, history and art. And very important is to also have fun!
3. What is your vision in the next 5 years?
I am not someone who plans ahead that much of a time. I live mostly in the present — doing the things that I love and I am truly passionate about which is storytelling through film and fashion.
Intrigued by the magical world of fashion, film, flowers & scents, Vienna’s and New York’s world of Art Deco charm & Los Angeles’ contemporary charm; Katja Schmolka, born and bred in Vienna, has been making her way through these diverse, and vibrant worlds. She established the independent fashion & art magazine ZIP Magazine, founded in New York City, along with her wellness lifestyle brand Scent Clouds — both created for the self-confident woman in charge of her own life, style, self-love, and spirituality.
Following the completion of her studies at the Vienna Institute of Fashion in the Palace of Hetzendorf, Katja embarked on her journey as a fashion stylist and fashion editor, working for high-profile European women’s and fashion magazines in Vienna, Milan, New York City, and Los Angeles. Through her creative process, Katja takes inspiration from the Zeitgeist, with its simultaneous demands for the creation of beauty, wellbeing, and sustainability.
Katja throughout her career, has styled fashion editorials for TUSH Magazine, Anna Magazine, Diva, Maxima, Wienerin and Swarovski and interviewed the likes of Gabby Reece, Rainer Judd, Ben Stiller, Edward Mapplethorpe, Tommy Hilfiger, and Vladimir Restoin Roitfeld, among others, for ZIP Magazine.
Twenty years ago, after the unexpected loss of her beloved mother, a Shaman Healer in Vienna helped Katja cope using Ylang Ylang essential oils. The love of natural, clean products, and the empowering, enchanting impact of botanical scents inspired Katja to create her own brand: the Scent Clouds line. Mists, soaps, and candles are hand-crafted and combined with intentions — LOVE, PEACE, JOY, COURAGE, and TRUST, among others — the logos painted by her in bold brush strokes. Katja’s favorite crystal — the deep purple Amethyst — is added to all Scent Clouds products and is intended to give an extra boost of magic power. This magic crystal is to be collected or passed on to another soul sister in the spirit of a talisman. Katja Schmolka lives and creates in Malibu, CA. For more information, visit: https://www.katjaschmolka.com/ and https://scentclouds.com/pages/about-us. Follow her @katjaschmolka