The Purple Bubble Fragrance Bar fits well in The Heights

Log in to save this page.
PURPL Logo 4C
bubblebar1
bubblebar2

Most college students are busy enough with studies and other college-related things that they need nothing else in their lives. Then, there is Emily Russell.

A sophomore elementary education major at Bradley University, Russell, 20, recently opened her own business in Peoria Heights, which she runs with her mother, Julie Russell, and part-time employees when she isn’t in class or studying.

“Mom and I run it. You know, we aren’t busy enough as it is,” said Emily while unpacking boxes of oils and bath bombs and other items she sells at her new business at 4610 N. Prospect Road in Peoria Heights. Her mother owns another company, AdCo Advertising Agency in Peoria.

It’s called the Purple Bubble Fragrance Bar and it fits well within the eclectic mix of stores and restaurants in the main business stretch of Peoria Heights. Especially since what it sells is an eclectic mix of smells.

For example, if you ever wondered what a monkey’s fart smells like, the Purple Bubble Bar is the place to find out. Right now, it’s the store’s fragrance of the week.

But if you aren’t keen on that or any other fragrance at the store, or if you just want to be like some Hollywood big shot and create your own fragrance, the Purple Bubble Bar is the place for that, also. You can create your own smell from blending two or more other smells and put your name on it. Your fragrance then can be put into lotions, soaps or shower gels, perfume, bath oils and even shaving cream

When you run out, you can come back in and have Russell or the others look up your blend and buy more, or you can mix a whole new fragrance.

Russell called it a “true custom experience” and said it allows people to tell their own stories or signal their moods through smell.

The Purple Bubble Bar, which is next door to Jim’s Bistro, also carries scented bath bombs, body soaps, candles and shower fizzies for an aromatherapy experience that helps with headaches, colds and stress – or even hangovers.

Russell said the idea to start her own business started when she found she needed something to do to stay busy when she wasn’t in school. “I’m a lot like my mother in that I don’t like to sit around doing nothing,” she said.

The fragrance bar wasn’t her first choice; she had wanted to open a cupcake shop. But her mother and father, Pete Russell, believed she was still too young to start her own business. It was decided it would be a family venture, including Emily’s brother Reed, even though Emily and Julie are the true proprietors.

When the cupcake shop idea didn’t pan out Russell recalled a fragrance shop she’d visited once in Door County, Wisconsin. A return trip there found the store gone – not closed, but moved to a location that took them several hours to find.

When they found it, she said, “We knew that was it. We wanted to do something nobody else in Peoria is doing and we did. And we couldn’t imagine a better location for a small business like this than in the Heights. In fact, we found the location before we knew what we were going to do with it. And everybody around here has been so nice, especially the people at Jim’s Bistro. It’s perfect here.”

Purple Bubble Bar has been open since Sept. 9 and Russell said business is picking up every day. Part of that, she said, is the location between two popular restaurants (Jim’s Bistro and Hearth, a few door down) and the fact people first come in just to see what it is. “Curiosity is good for business,” she said.

Also, she added, the fragrance bar is open later than some other retailers, which brings in customers after they have left the restaurants. “Believe it or not, Monday night is one of our busiest times so far,” she said.

When people come in and learn about blending scents to create their own fragrance, “They love the idea. That and naming their own fragrance, which is a fun part of it, too.”

Russell didn’t want to wait until she was finished with school to start the business. “I want to get going on it so it was really starting to move along by the time I get out of college. I’d like it to be a kind of safety net and it will give me something to do in the summers when I’m not teaching,” she said.

Most college students worry about their social life on weekends. Russell puts in 12 hour days at the Purple Bubble Bar on Fridays and Saturdays. “This is something I’m passionate about. I can still see my friends and do things after the store closes. But I want to be here,” she said.

The Purple Bubble Bar’s signature scent is the tuberose and gardenia blend because both the tuberose and gardenia have family memories attached to them. “But I have lots of favorite scents that our customers have come up with. I can still get really surprised by some of the things they blend together and how it comes out smelling amazing,” she said.

Customers get surprised by scents, as well, she added. That includes the scent called Monkey Farts. “It’s actually a blend of banana, kiwi, grapefruit and strawberry. It smells great,” she said.

The Purple Bubble Bar has started offering classes on how to make bath bombs, soaps and other products. There will be classes about what colors mean, on aromatherapy and a how-to on essential oils.

Russell said she hopes the store will become a go-to place for birthday parties, wedding and baby showers and girls’ nights out. Special event packages are available, as are gift cards. The store also sell products in which to use oils and fragrances, such as plug-in warmers.

The Purple Bubble Bar is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. It’s closed on Sunday. 

About the Author
Paul Gordon is the editor of The Peorian after spending 29 years of indentured servitude at the Peoria Journal Star. He’s an award-winning writer, raconteur and song-and-dance man. He also went to a high school whose team name is the Alices (that’s Vincennes Lincoln High School in Indiana; you can look it up).