The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

Got a tip? Have something you need to tell us? Contact us

Loading Recent Classifieds...

Business Owner Breaks Uniformity Through Art

Marie Schwarzer standing by her uniforms for sale. Photo credit: Logan Bik

Walking around the San Fernando Valley one will see a variety of small businesses, vacant buildings and rubbish in the gutter. Hidden among the regularity of the Valley is a businesswoman and artist, Marie Schwarzer. She is a painter, writer and owner of Uniform Depot, where she spends most of her days. In the front of the store she sells uniforms, and in the back she works on her art.

Growing up in Poland, Schwarzer was surrounded by cultures from neighboring countries and used that to her advantage. She took her studies seriously as she pursued her education and received a master’s degree in Engineering.

When she moved to the United States, Schwarzer attended Washington State University and received another master’s degree in Biophysics. Following graduation, she moved to California where she and her husband started a new life for themselves.

Marie Schwarzer standing in her studio in the back of Uniform Depot where she elaborates on past works. Photo credit: Logan Bik

The couple was always active in the real estate world, and when Uniform Depot went on the market, Schwarzer took up the opportunity to purchase the business and became the owner. From where it sits on the corner of Sherman Way and Reseda, the store has been around since the 1980s and has faced all the changes of the San Fernando Valley.

From the outside you’ll notice orange and red paint, which brings back the retro feel of Reseda. As you step into the store, you are greeted by mannequins wearing everything from medical scrubs to construction gear. With a quick look around you will most likely hear a “Hello” ,in a polish accent, coming from Schwarzer sitting in the back of the store.

Schwarzer has been the owner for 14 years and has managed to run a successful business and pursue her passion for art simultaneously. Between helping customers with their uniform needs, she sits in the back, near her easel, where she works on her paintings. She began painting in the store about 10 years ago as an outlet to relieve stress.

As Schwarzer applies paint to the canvas, the colors pop as she uses bright and metallic acrylic paints in her pieces. The paintings often feature a dynamic relationship between life, culture and science using abstraction and surrealism. Schwarzer, being educated in the sciences, often uses the DNA double helix in her paintings.

Marie Schwarzer's latests works where she is incorporating abstraction and bright colors. Photo credit: Logan Bik

She also works on her creative writing through her novels, which she self-publicizes through Amazon. She has written six books, with the first one being published in 2011. The novels range in topics such as art, philosophy and math.

Schwarzer does not stop there as she also works on sewing. She incorporates her paintings into her clothing as she gets her paintings printed onto silk, which she can then use to design clothing. In the end she would like to work in high fashion.

“I love high-end fashion and design, I just do not have the connections,” Schwarzer said.

Marie Schwarzer shows off the amount of work she has put into her costume design. Photo credit: Logan Bik

Though her works of art have caught the attention of art collectors and galleries, Schwarzer struggles to take her art to the next level.

“I have no time to go to these meetings, this store is how I pay my bills, and I can’t afford to close down for a day and potentially lose customers,” Schwarzer said. “I need help managing my art.”

In the meantime, she uses to share her artwork with the world, where people can also purchase prints of her paintings on everything, from pillowcases to beach towels. Although Schwarzer does not get a large amount of sales, she mentioned that it is not always about the money when it comes to art.

“Money is good, but for me, art is just something I enjoy, it relieves my stress,” Schwarzer said.

Marie Schwarzer in the back of her studio showing the scale of her paintings. Photo credit: Logan Bik

Despite the struggles, she has stayed optimistic throughout the years, just waiting for the right opportunity. The Uniform Depot has been home to the San Fernando Valley for quite some time and has seen a lot of different people, but none quite like Schwarzer.

“When you die, you should leave something behind for people to see and remember you,” she said.

Marie Schwarzers prints are available at:

Her books are available at:

More to Discover