If you’re thinking about developing healthier habits for the New Year, your resolution just got a whole lot easier. Instead of driving to St. Michaels for your juice fix from Agave Art & Juicing, you can now go to their new store in Easton at Talbot Town Shopping Center.
The company was started in 2017 by two lifelong best friends, Madeline Hargrove and Alli Hensley, whose parents, as it turned out, were also best friends. However, the idea for the business didn’t quite match the result. It was initially fueled by a love of traveling, which the two had done a lot throughout Southeast Asia, South America, and many African countries. It was there that they realized that the beautiful handmade things that they kept coming across and which they couldn’t find in the States would be something that others would enjoy as well.
The perfect solution was to open a place where they could support and sell the goods made by these artisans. But, in doing so, they wanted to make sure it would be equitable to those who were creating the merchandise, (which now also included some local artists they found to support). So they joined the Fair Trade Federation, the governing body committed to fair trade principles, where nothing is made in a sweatshop or mass-produced, and which protects the artists, ensuring they get a fair wage.
When a small Victorian house on Main Street in St. Michaels became available, they opened their fair trade shop. So how did the juice component fit in? Well, it was actually an afterthought. “It’s something I’ve been doing for probably 15 to 20 years at home,” said Hargrove, “and so we said, ‘let’s make juice as well.’” There was no business like that in St. Michaels at the time, and the Agave Arts and Juicing Company was born.
It didn’t take long before it began to get a following. But, it was only after joining the Easton Farmer’s Market that they realized just how popular they had become. It seemed people were willing to drive from around the area to go to St. Michaels to get their juice. “We always talked about how one day,” said Hargrove, “we’d look back and laugh about our teeny tiny closet kitchen.” At the end of November, that day became a reality when the perfect space popped up, and the Agave Juicing Company opened in Easton.
They are, of course, keeping their St. Michaels location (which is open only on weekends), where they do most of the fair-trade sales. The Easton location also has a retail section, but the juice is the specialty. “We have about 10-14 different kinds depending on the season,” said Hargrove. “We also do specialty lemonades with herbs and flowers. And now, at our Easton shop, we offer smoothies, vegan salads, and vegan baked goods.” The spacious location has allowed them to think about expanding their menu even further and start including items such as chia puddings, overnight oats, scones, and muffins.
Not surprisingly, everything (except some baked goods) is made in-house, mainly using locally sourced produce. “We change our recipes a lot,” Hargrove told us. “We get a fair amount from Teddy Bear Fresh. There is a farm in Greensboro where we get all our Asian pears. In the summertime, I drive around and pick up watermelons from different farms. So it just depends on what’s available, what’s fresh, and what’s good.”
Even with all the variety, there are fan favorites. Said Hargrove, “Our best seller, by far, is our spicy ginger shot. It’s our little wellness shot and tastes like a spicy apple pie. It’s so good for any kind of colds and inflammation. That and our green juices, for sure, are what people love. Fair trade-wise, we sell tons of funky, cool fair trade earrings.”
It is not only artists that the duo wants to protect. “We are totally plastic-free, and that has been our mission since day one,” said Hargrove. “We were named by What’s Up Eastern Shore Media last year as the best eco-friendly business. People are really into joining our mission and help out by doing things like returning our glass bottles. It’s been amazing.”
Despite all of this success, much is about to change in their lives. When announcing their opening on social media on November 29th, this is what they said: “8 and 5 months pregnant, 7 months preparation and hard work and tomorrow we open the doors to our newest shop.” That’s right, the two are both pregnant at the same time (perhaps keeping up with the tradition of creating future best friends), with Hargrove due with her second child in January. How will that change the dynamics of keeping up with a new shop?
Said Hargrove, “It’s going to be interesting for sure. I’ve done it once before, and I can see that I’m going to be bringing a newborn to the shop. Now the two-year-old will be a different story; she’s a handful. Alli and I are three months apart, which is how it worked out so that once I come back, she’ll be out. We’ll make it work. It’s just how we do it.”.
Luckily, they have help. Spouses who support them and employees they can depend on. They told us that the St. Michaels location is self-sufficient, allowing Hargrove and Hensley and the two employees they’ve hired to concentrate their efforts on building their business at the new store. For that, they rely on getting the word out about their ever-changing menu. They have a solid social media presence on Instagram and Facebook. “I post on it every single day,” said Hargrove, “what we have that day, what’s fresh, what’s coming in. We want people to know what we’re doing.”
So go ahead, and make your resolution. Hargrove and Hensley have you covered.
Val Cavalheri is a recent transplant to the Eastern Shore, having lived in Northern Virginia for the past 20 years. She’s been a writer, editor and professional photographer for various publications, including the Washington Post.