We had the good fortune of connecting with Shazieh Gorji and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Shazieh, do you have any habits that you feel contribute to your effectiveness?
As one who is rather active with diverse interests, the capacity to multi-task without losing attention to detail is a habit I have honed over the years. As an artist using various mediums from the bakery to the pottery and everything in between, multi-tasking is crucial to being able to maintain an online shop and inventory while keeping all factors of my business running smoothly.
The ability to be consistent together with caring about each item being made, as though it’s being made for the first time, combine to maintain quality.
Determination and the burning drive to not give up helps me see a task through to the end, no matter how long it may take on any given day. This ties in with being committed and reliable. Building trust and fostering genuine relationships with both clients and shop owners is important to why I do what I do, as a business is only as successful as the people running it and those who support it.
A people’s person, coupled with loving what I do and taking pride in my work from beginning to end despite the hard work, curveballs and challenges is a fundamental ingredient to helping my business grow.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
A highly energetic and tactile person, I have studied and practiced art forms utilizing both food and clay for over 15 years. Scents and fragrances, the elements of taste and touch, and especially the transformation of both these mediums through fire is positively thrilling.
Agave Pantry is the culmination of my journey from East to West weaving a story through herbs, spices, food and clay; the marriage of desserts, infused culinary salts, sugars, spice blends, and pottery. The endless possibilities of working with ingredients, creating desserts and blends that are deeply personal is a daily pleasure. Similarly, clay too has the potential to spin between the potter’s fingers, bringing to life forms that are unique to the individual shaping the clay. To offer these creations to the community at large is to offer a piece of myself.
Recently, Agave Pantry was nominated for The Tucson Scout Guide ‘Dine like a Local’ competition and won in the Sweets category. This is a huge achievement, and a testament to the support of the community taking the time to vote.
Collaborating with various local store fronts across Tucson to stock the Salt, Sugar and Spice Line, as well as the Ceramics and Linens has been another accomplishment. Though reaching a wider audience through these collaborations is a definite bonus, the relationships formed with shop owners and seeing one’s products thoughtfully displayed and curated is incredibly exciting. The Tucson Botanical Garden Gift Shop, Eastland Alley Design Co, 5 Points Market & Restaurant, MESA, Bhava Wellness, Sona Tortillas, and Cero Tucson all carry various products by Agave Pantry to name a few. I am extremely grateful and proud of these collaborations. For a full list of where Agave Pantry products are available do check the ‘About’ section on the website.
Lastly, this past year led me to set up an outdoor studio, purchase a wheel and start focusing on making pottery with more ease at any time of the day or night when inspiration beckons. While all glazing takes place at the Tucson Clay Coop where I have been a member for just shy of a decade, I do have a small kiln and alternate kiln for firing at my home studio. The glazes at the clay coop, however, are phenomenal, and the sense of community keeps me from working 100% solo. I also offer workshops in the cooler season, firing ‘Spirit Pots’ in small groups of 2-4 people. These pots are ritual pieces and are not food safe but rather ‘food for the soul’; they can be used as dream pots or smudge pots post cleansing and smudging. The two-day workshop entails wrapping and decorating a pre-made pot to be fired in an alternate kiln with occasional color changing flames. The pots cool overnight and the next day we remove the pots together, clean and beeswax them and lastly, finish them with a gem stone and copper wire.
The workshops, curbside pick-up, and pop-up markets pave a platform to interact with people and share what fuels me, and in return, I am inspired to keep going and evolve as a business to provide a product with the desire to evoke beauty, emotion and joy in various forms. Using organic, non gmo, and, when possible, local ingredients Agave Pantry aspires to indulge you.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Eat- Boca Tacos y Tequila ,Tito and Pep, Seis and Kukai at the Mercado District, Barrio Bread for a warm loaf of bread first thing in the morning. 5 PointsMarket & Restaurant for the most satisfying Huevos Rancheros for breakfast or brunch and their desserts are incredible! Raijin Ramen for a fabulous ramen bowl. Lastly, Taqueria Pico de Gallo is a fabulous Tucson gem worth visiting. There are really too many places to list.
Drink- Exo coffee and Savaya coffee are my two favorite cafes. Ermanos and Tap and Bottle for a boozy experience.
Visit- The Mercado San Agustin and the Msa Annex down the street from it. A one stop shop, drink and dine while being outdoors in a beautifully curated outdoor space. The Tucson Botanical Gardens and Desert Museum both provide a window into the desert flora and with the latter fauna. San Xavier Mission and Bisbee, which are so worth visiting since you’ve come this far south already. Quick tip: I recommend not stopping in Tombstone on the way to Bisbee but rather going to Bisbee and visiting Tombstone on the way back. The latter also is home to one of the world’s largest rambling rose aka the Tombstone Rose.
Hang out- Tucson offers a hike for every season. In the winter desert hikes are best explored and in the Summer up the Catalina Mountains to cool off at Bear Wallow or Marshall Gulch Trail at Mt. Lemmon. Definitely visit Sabino Canyon and if it’s too hot, take the tram up and walk back down. Try and hop the tram back at the last stop if you wish to avoid the last mile, which is out of the canyon and quite exposed to the sun.
Grab a picnic from Time Market for any of these outdoor hikes and be sure to grab a Chocolate Sable from Time Market.
Some shops to stop at are Pop Cycle a one stop shop hosting so many local Tucson Artists under one roof. Bhava Wellness has an incredibly curated space with their own branded wellness products, local artists and thoughtfully picked objects for the home. 5 Points Restaurant & Market showcases local makers, as well, to acquire handcrafted Sonoran inspired items. On a weekend, especially during the holiday season, pop-up markets showcase an array of local artists and makers. Be sure to find a pop-up market to attend.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
This question cannot be answered as a single shout out and it would be impossible to list everyone, as I have been blessed by the love, support, mentorship and feedback of so many hearts and minds to bring Agave Pantry to life. First and foremost, my family- mother, sisters, and husband have been an immense pillar of support and encouragement in numerous ways that would take pages to list. Close friends have played a vital role in both taste testing and providing confidence in my creations before Agave Pantry came to life. My dear friend Beth, a yoga teacher and violinist extraordinaire inspired me to create gluten free items that were not only satisfying and delicious but also without the heavy use of starchy gluten free flours, which led to the use of almonds as a substitute. Melissa is another friend who has a keen eye for design and helped immensely in fine tuning aesthetics, spending countless hours going back and forth sharing her expertise in design and packaging. And a huge shout out to Don Guerra of Barrio Bread for making time to share pointers, guiding me during those first few initial and fundamental steps to officially start a business.
Going back in time, I am grateful for my mentor Trew Bennett of Buck Creek Pottery in Virginia. Living with her for a few weeks almost two decades ago when I had just started pottery as an undergrad in Vermont- she not only taught me her wheel throwing techniques but shared snippets of the inner workings of her full-time studio, inspiring me to glean an understanding of how running a viable business as an artist isn’t impossible. Till today, I use the handmade metal trimming tool she gifted me, which has traveled across the oceans and back and forth since 2003!
Lastly, I am incredibly thankful for my alma mater, Bennington College where the gift of those four years didn’t end with just a degree but a lifelong continuum and thirst to make a difference in one’s community, and always strive to fulfill a desire no matter the obstacles, place, and myriad of excuses one can make to not do something.
Other: Google Business Page- Agave Pantry
FLETCHER AND CO