This semester, The Diamondback is compiling a series on Prince George’s County businesses owned by people of color. Click here for a story about Footage Society, a sneaker boutique in Laurel.
Raised in an environment where her parents emphasized health, Lisa Harris took inspiration from her parents and opened up her own juice shop called the WaterHole.
“In 2013, my father passed from cancer and it kind of inspired me to just fulfill my dreams and start a business,” the owner of the Mount Rainier juice shop said.
The WaterHole is a juice bar located in Mount Rainier, Maryland, that provides fresh-pressed juices, plant-based organic food, fresh produce and the company’s line of organic supplements. The WaterHole also has an online shop that sells herb packets, capsules and other health and wellness products, shipped nationwide. The store opened in November 2014 and is celebrating its seventh anniversary this month.
Harris decided to open the store since most juice businesses don’t offer cold-pressed, fresh juice, customizable drinks and authentic products like she does.
“What’s unique is that you could walk in and you could get a drink made by the owner,” she said.
Harris has a unique management style since she is her own boss and doesn’t report to anyone. She has creative control with her business, which leaves room for innovation in terms of the future, she said.
Valerie Theverge, a customer of the WaterHole and a friend of Harris, sees Harris’s creative side allow her to be intuitive in her managing skills as it “augments her business,” she said.
The WaterHole is closely tied to the community and before the pandemic, it was the community hub, she said.
“I partnered with the Prince George’s County Library,” Harris said. “We would do a storytime for the at-home moms on Fridays, the kids would have smoothies.”
Theverge began supporting the local juice shop when it opened up as a product of the deeply connected community in Mount Rainier.
“There aren’t that many businesses in Mount Rainier,” Theverge said. “So when a new place opens up and it’s a local … people want to support that.”
Theverge enjoys going to the WaterHole because of Harris and her passion for the business, she said.
“Lisa really makes that place,” she said. “She’s kind of magnetic and so people are attracted to her and she’s so passionate about what she does … it’s the whole package.”
As Harris’s friend, Theverge has enjoyed watching her grow as a business and as a human.
“She started when she was in her mid-20s,” she said. “And that’s a lot to take on when people are still trying to find themselves.”
However, due to the pandemic, Harris had to shift her business to a more grab-and-go style. She misses not being able to offer people the community space they had before.
The most challenging aspect of running her business is finding more employees to work with so Harris can expand her business.
In the future, if Harris were to open another store, she wouldn’t want another brick-and-mortar location. That way, she can maintain the quality of her products by keeping them in store and avoid expanding too much. Instead, she would want a “mom and pop flagship type store vibe,” as well as her products being sold in other establishments, she said.
For Toni Bell of Washington, D.C., the WaterHole is a go-to spot for her to get her favorite juice called the “Weekend Shot” — a juice made of pineapple, lemon, lime, ginger, orange and turmeric — and fresh coconut water.
“All of those are healthy and great to make you feel good when you’re drinking them,” she said.
Bell recommends the juice bar “all the time” because Harris is connected to the community and supports all the other local businesses nearby, she said.
Although Bell lives on the far end of Washington, D.C, she makes the trip out to Mount Rainier every once in a while since she loves the fresh-pressed juice so much, she said.
Despite the challenges Harris has faced due to the pandemic, business has been stable because “everybody’s trying to be healthy right now,” she said.