Bubbles for business: Auburn owner to relocate, reopen as craft market
Until the spring of 2020, Bubbles and Beauty Boutique owner Shari Nirschl handcrafted and then sold all three of her product lines in one location – this gray mall boutique at 18 B St. NE in downtown Toronto. Auburn.
But after Covid hit and state health edicts banned walk-ins, the unfazed Nirschl kept his nose to the soapstone, still making his artisanal soaps, personal care and skincare products. shop behind the scenes, and focusing its sales on small retail outlets.
“If you were to walk into the store now, all you would see would be a pile of buckets,” Nirschl said.
Today, the Auburn businesswoman prepares to move bubbles, beauty and everything else across East Main to new digs – the former Rottle clothing and shoe store. That is, in October or November, Nirschl said, Bubbles and Beauty Boutique will reopen there as a maker’s market. She is currently looking for vendors and artisans willing to sell their own handmade products at the new business, which will be called Rose’s Makers Market and will operate five to seven days a week.
Basically, the change will once again allow living and breathing customers to come in and check everything out.
And there will be plenty to check out.
The Maggie’s Bath House line, a nod to the Portland, Oregon woman who taught Nirschl how to make her own soaps, features soap sugar cubes, soap slurries, bath sundaes, bath sprinkles, loofah lollipops, soap cupcakes, bath butters, body glazes, body milk and body whisk.
It’s beautiful to look at, but don’t eat any of these treats. And don’t let the kids eat either.
“Well, maybe kids, if you know them,” Nirschl joked.
Then there’s Nirschl’s Black Bird Botanicals apothecary bath line with its 100% handmade apothecary goat’s milk soaps, shaving items and foot care, all nicely packaged in small muslin bags.
Apothecary? What are they talking about? It looks like something out of Bell, Book and Candle, the shop from the witch-themed 1958 film starring Jimmy Stewart, Elsa Lanchester and Kim Novak.
“No, I’m not doing anything weird,” laughs Nirschl.
Finally, there’s Verbena Botanicals, consisting of 100% handmade goat’s milk soaps, milk wash lotions, and serums.
Business in all of the above bath products is good, she said.
“I love what I do. That’s why I do the Makers Marketplace. I love helping other small businesses grow. It not only allows me to sell my stuff, but also helps grow other small businesses,” she said. “Right now, I’m doing events with my business all over the Puget Sound area, and all of the vendors are super excited. It’s a lot of work setting up and spending all day at an event and then unboxing while being a crafter for years.
“It’s hard to be a physical business and to be an artisan because you can’t be in two places at once. This gives different artisans the opportunity to have their products in the same place. There will be staff, so everyone will check at the same register. They won’t need to be here to sell their products, they can continue to work in other markets at the same time,” Nirschl said.
Nirschl’s father, Dennis Nirschl, is an Auburn boy, but he raised his family in Kent, and Shari graduated from Kent Meridian High School in 1991, having already earned her degree in cosmetology, the field she would work in for a while. several years, locally then in Arizona
A chance meeting at a trade show with the aforementioned Maggie and Maggie’s husband, Harold, soap maker extraordinaire, led to close friendships and introduced her to the craft she now practices.
Indeed, at the invitation of the generous Maggie, who taught her all about soap making and shared her recipes, she took over the ownership of their Portland boutique, before moving to Auburn.
At first, Nirschl called her boutique Auburn Verbena Botanicals, but, she said, she had to make a change.
“It was kind of confusing for people, so I created a new business name, Bubbles and Beauty Boutique, which is a generic name for all three product lines,” Nirschl said.
Running a business comes naturally to this King County native, who comes from a long line of entrepreneurs on both sides of her family.
Her grandfather, Herman Nirschl, sold fenders along the I-5 corridor in the early decades of the 20th century and raised his family, including Shari’s father, Dennis, on a farm on the west side of I-5. ‘Auburn Way North. Over time, the family transformed the long rectangular barn on the farm into a place of business called South King Furniture. When the family sold the furniture business years later, the site became a Poulsbo motorhome, and after that a successful swap site.
On her mother’s side, her grandfather, Derwin Tufte, was a shoemaker and owner of Kent Shoe Repair. When grandfather died, still young, Tufte’s daughter and her husband took over the business. When they got too big, they opened Country Square in the old barn turned furniture store turned Poulsbo-RV turned swap-meet.
“This barn turned into a lot of things,” Shari said.
On his grandmother’s side, one of his great-uncles was the original owner of Sam’s Shoe Repair in downtown Auburn. When the great-uncle sold the business several years later, the buyer kept the name, Sam’s, and Sam’s remained for many years until the buyer’s son closed up shop during the pandemic. Today the site is the office of the Downtown Auburn Cooperative.
“None of us can do anything else,” Nirschl said. “We have always struggled to work for others.”
When she’s not up to her neck in soap and the like, Lea Hill resident Nirschl enjoys hanging out with her one-and-a-half-year-old granddaughter, Juliana, her daughter’s child, Tasondra.