ldner #230 | kate protopapas

After discovering a passion for nature, this week’s LDNER decided to create her own line of skincare packed with natural ingredients and essential oils, which she still hand crafts in small batches in London. Meet Isla Apothecary founder Kate Protopapas…

Where do you live in London and what do you like about the area?

I live in Barnet, North London. It’s home. It’s peaceful and quiet, and I like that it’s equidistant to central London and the countryside. I love that it’s close by to Alexandra Palace and the Park, Highgate Wood and Hampstead Heath. All of my family are close by too, which is a big plus.

What inspired you to start your own skincare line?

Right before the inspiration took hold, I had just completed a law degree and had celebrated with a trip around the Pacific Northwest. I spent every day close to nature and it was so freeing and comforting in ways I hadn’t been so open to previously. That time in limbo sort of kickstarted a flow of creative juices so when I got home I booked on to various courses and I started experimenting more with natural ingredients and essential oils. I decided that truly what I wanted was a creative outlet, of my own design. I felt ready to take charge of the circumstances I was at that time and slowly I created the building blocks of Isla Apothecary.

Aromatherapy is a big part of Isla Apothecary, why was it so important for you to incorporate this into the brand?

Aromatherapy was a big part of my own experience, and when I started to think about product creation, the essential oils were an almost unconscious inclusion in that process. As the identity of the brand was forming, I realised that the aromatherapeutic part was always going to be present because I was drawing on my positive experiences of that. Aromatherapy is partly about triggering and / or creating feelings and memories, and I wanted the products in the range to be less cumbersome, and more about the experience of self-care and encouraging time for that, which I believe the element of aromatherapy lends greatly to.

Talk us through the production process because you make everything by hand.

Yes, the nature of natural ingredients is such that freshness and potency are so important. When it comes to the production process, each batch will consist of between 50-100 units, and the process of hand blending and pouring is just as important now as it was when I first started out and the numbers were different. Before the making happens, all jars and bottles are labelled by hand, and at the end of the pouring, they are then all sealed by hand. It really is a labour of love. And I love the fact that it’s an imperfect process, and a sort of mirror reflection of the ingredients within that characterise the nuanced differences from batch to batch.

Describe your perfect day in London.

I could conjure up so many scenarios! But one of my favourite places in London is Regent’s Park, which is just wonderful all year round. The open air theatre in the summer is such a unique and lovely experience, and then there is the Frieze Art Fair every October, which I sort of treat as an autumnal rite of passage. Jumping on a hire bike and circling the park is always fun, and trying out a new place to eat is a must too.