Boutique recipe: Add soap, jewelry, lotions


March 18, 2004|By Carole McShane | Carole McShane,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

LOOKING FOR a wedding gift? Estate jewelry to jazz up your wardrobe? Want to pamper yourself with handmade soap and creamy lotions? Natural Bath Works, a new boutique in an old chapel, offers all this plus in-store parties and, soon, chamber music.

Natural Bath Works opened in August in the former Westwood Methodist Church on Triadelphia Road in Glenelg. The store is the creation of Michelle Quader, who with her husband, Glenn, 37, their son James, 18, and daughter, Kaila, 15, moved to Maryland from Boca Raton, Fla., in the summer of 2001.

In Florida, the Quaders ran a successful music conservatory for youths. They were preparing to expand the school when Glenn Quader, an orchestral conductor, decided to apply to the Peabody Conservatory for a graduate degree in conducting.

"Glenn was one of four students chosen from 64 applicants for the program in conducting," Michelle Quader said. "What could I say?"

Once in Maryland, her husband's schedule and the children's activities at Glenelg High School left Michelle Quader, 36, with time on her hands. "Everybody was gone," she said. "We were new. I didn't know anybody. I went from being very busy - to nothing. So I was watching HGTV, and I saw a soap special. I said, `I can do that, but I can do it better. So sure enough, I started making soaps."

There were many trial-and-error sessions when batches of soap were tossed out, but soon she had her own natural soap recipes. Most of her soaps are made with natural oils, which she believes are best for the skin and are now part of her "Signature," "Specialty" and "Classic" lines of bath products.

Natural Bath Works opened in the tiny bell tower atop the church building, which houses Westwood Furnishings and Antiques. In six weeks, sales zoomed. Ingrid Melber, owner of Westwood and Michelle Quader's landlord, suggested the boutique move to the larger Civil War-era chapel next door.

Now tables on the main floor of Natural Bath Works brim with Michelle Quader's soaps: "Bee My Honey" soap, a moisturizing bar; "Fancy Your Feet Peppermint" soap, an oversized deodorizing bar; and "Bubbly Gum" soap, a favorite with teens, she said.

There are gift baskets, such as the "Happily-Ever-After" for a bride and the "Rub-a-Dub-Dub" set, with a bar of "Almond Maraschino" soap, a wooden nail brush and a yellow rubber duck.

Jewelry, handbags, scarves, candles, aromatherapy and holiday gifts are on the first floor. A customer who climbs the winding stairs to the light-filled loft will find formal dresses, satin evening purses and lingerie.

Patrons can invite their friends to shop and socialize at a Natural Bath Works' in-store party, held after regular store hours. As in at-home parties where household products are sold, the hostess earns points for purchases made by her guests, which can be used to buy Natural Bath Works' merchandise. But unlike at-home parties, the hostess does not have to clean her house, organize or deliver party orders.

Lesa Hahn of Glenwood, hostess of a recent in-store party, brought snacks and beverages for her guests.

"It's a great idea," she said. "Instead of having one line of a product, there are so many to choose from in the store."

Guest Pam Henley of Cooksville appreciated the convenience. "Out here in western Howard County, we have to travel for a gift. This store has so much to choose from. You can get the right gift on the fly."

Also available at the boutique, by appointment only, are massages by registered massage therapist Kim Shalan of Lisbon.

Michelle Quader and her husband - who teaches conducting at University of Maryland, Baltimore County and conducts several local orchestras - plan to have string ensembles and duos, such as guitar and cello, perform at Natural Bath Works.

Natural Bath Works is at 13554 Triadelphia Road. Information: 410-531-9194, or Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.

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