By Ashleigh Atwell

While most 20-somethings are finishing college or worrying about student loans, 25-year-old Lisa Harris has started a business, The Waterhole, the DMV’s newest source of all-natural tonics, juices, smoothies, and more. Owning a business quite a feat for someone as young as Harris but she had the ultimate source of inspiration in her late father.

“The driving factor is my father passing away from cancer,” says Harris. “If I could educate more people on how to alleviate sickness then that’s my business goal. I actually feel with things like cancer, we all have those cells but it’s what we use and what we put in our body to activate these things.”

Lisa Harris

Lisa Harris

That tragedy led Harris to jump-start a dream she’s had since she was a child and after talking with longtime friend, Judy Davis, they decided to start The Waterhole in their already health conscious neighborhood. Juice bars tend to be a dime a dozen these days but The Waterhole will do more than sling smoothies and pour juice.

“We had been trying to find a spot and finally in February a spot came for us and we created a name called ‘The Waterhole.’ And The Waterhole is basically [a] gathering spot where you can come together and not only see live music but get nourishment and create a holistic community,” says Harris. “We created The Waterhole and now we have this community right in the arts district and that’s my background so it’s perfect. I live in the artists’ loft right at the corner.”

Harris and Davis are an unlikely pair since Harris is a young queer 20-something and Davis is a sixty-something mother of nine but Harris insists the age difference will work in their favor. “I feel like with my business partner [since] she’s older, in her sixties, we’re bridging a gap to reach her age group and my age group,” she remarks.

Harris found a very competent partner in Davis who has been a vegetarian since the 1970s and a vegan for five years. She also works for Glut, a local co-op that sits across the street from The Waterhole, where she met Harris four years ago.

In addition to live music and edible treats, The Waterhole will contribute to the spiritual wellness of the surrounding community via classes and seminars. “We will be having juice groups, detox groups where you can not only come and get information but we will link you up with accountability partners so you wouldn’t be on your own,” says Harris. Customers will be able to get their spirits fed regardless of their beliefs and experts will make sure they have a customized experience.

“We will also have non-denominational meditations. We have this one thing called ‘Ask the Herbalist’ where people come in and tell the herbalist what’s wrong them she’ll make up something for you because we have a tonic and elixir menu as well,” Harris shares.

The Waterhole has something for everyone including people that are not in the DMV. On their blog  they post tips and films for people interested in living a healthier lifestyle. “The first step is to pay attention to what you take into your body and start doing your research,” Harris advises. “Question everything that you’re taking in. Do you research on additives and artificial flavor. Eat to live, don’t live to eat.”

The Waterhole is projected to open in early August. If you are in the DC-area, stay tuned to their website,, for announcements about their grand opening and other happenings.

Ashleigh is a writer, student and organizer based in Atlanta, GA. Her words have appeared in various publications including For Harriet, Black and Married with and Atlanta Black Star. Ashleigh has been writing and blogging for six years and AnotA is the one that stuck and it has exceeded her expectations with over 51,000 views and shout outs in Clutch Magazine and XoJane. As the blog approaches its second anniversary, Ashleigh hopes to keep the momentum going with new content and other related projects. When she isn’t writing on the train, she is nurturing BlackOUT, the LGBT organization for students of color at Georgia State and being a bomb ass waitress.

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