GRAND RAPIDS — Krystal Szabo is a trained chef from the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu Institute of Culinary Arts in Pittsburgh — but don’t try to eat this recipe.
The owner of Green Bubble Gorgeous in the village is sharing a recipe that many people may need right now in the thick of summertime: Lavender Tub Tea.
The bath salt can be added to the tub to relieve itchiness from poison ivy, sunburn or eczema, Szabo said. Fill a muslin bag with the salts and drop them in the water.
“One winter, I had hives because I was allergic to the dye in my jeans and I didn’t know it,” she said.
Sabrina Schroeder, one of three Green Bubble Gorgeous employees, also has firsthand knowledge of the recipe’s healing powers.
“Me and my entire family got poison ivy this summer,” she said. “It was literally the only thing that got us any relief.”
Szabo has been in business for 10 years, with the last three at the Grand Rapids shop. On a summer afternoon last week, the store was bustling with customers coming in every few minutes and soaps were in various stages of creation in the back room.
Almost every product, including body butter and lotions, were open for sampling.
The soap business came about accidentally for Szabo.
She said she loved her job as a prepared foods team leader with Whole Foods Market, where she’d been for eight years. She got to develop recipes, do training and open stores.
One Christmas, Szabo decided to make all of her aunts and grandmothers bath-themed gifts.
“I did it again the follow year because everybody loved it,” she said. “I never intended it to be my job.”
Her first shop was also her home — a 2,000-square-foot facility with a commercial kitchen. The setup worked well for awhile, but Szabo said she found she couldn’t relax.
“I never stopped working. That’s what happens when you work from home,” she said.
Szabo started to look for a space where she could make her products and sell them — then go home at night and be a wife to husband Justin and mom to daughter Olivia. They live in Delta, where she and her husband grew up down the road from each other. He is a farmer.
“I was driving through Grand Rapids and saw this building. I almost committed to it by text before I went inside,” she said. “I wanted so bad to be in Grand Rapids. I love this town.
“I love that it’s on the river. I think we have fabulous restaurants. It’s just got that small-town feel. We’re like family.”
Her top clients are boutiques and salons. Her most popular product is “bath bombs” with fun themes. Throw the cloud-shaped white soap into the bath and a rainbow spreads across the water. Szabo even developed a fortune cookie bath soap — that spills out a fortune which floats to the top.
Green Bubble Gorgeous products are 95% natural and organic; all are paraben free and phthalate free.
Szabo graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in 2002.
Her creative outlet at home is gardening. She has three cut flower beds with six different varieties of zinnias, sweet peas, snap dragons and dahlias.
Szabo’s specialty dish in the kitchen is handmade pasta with homemade sauces. Her husband likes to barbecue and smoke meats.
She said she often tells him that when they retire, they should winter in Tennessee and open a restaurant.
“And he says, ‘that doesn’t sound like retirement at all.’”