Agro Couture is building a lifestyle brand by delivering on promises
At Agro Couture, they believe that success happens when talent meets opportunity. When opportunity came, in the form of people staying home and receiving government stimulus checks, the Washington-based producer/processor was ready. Built through strong relationships and the promise of delivering the highest quality product at every price point, Agro Couture was able to attract new customers and, more importantly, keep them coming back.
“A lot of companies saw their stock rise, and they saw it immediately fall back to Earth,” says Agro Couture general manager James Beauchamp. “We’ve actually been able to maintain that growth and stay stable because we’ve done the right things.”
By building relationships and focusing on efficiencies in its production processes, Tacoma-grown Agro Couture has been able to create a lifestyle brand and become the No. 12 producer/processor in Washington out of 700 licenses, despite being limited to 10,000 square feet of canopy as a Tier 2 operation.
Today, the company produces its own Agro Couture, Slab Mechanix and Green Envy brands of concentrates and is the Washington producer and distributor for all Dabstar products. It also does white labeling, toll processing and bulk sales for other companies in Washington’s cannabis industry. The company also sells assorted flower products, pre-rolls, live resin cartridges and a line of increasingly popular 100-miligram THC-infused beverages in a variety of flavors, from strawberry lemonade to root beer, including seasonal favorites like pumpkin spice and eggnog, handmade at the Agro Couture facility. “We grew a little slower, but I think we grew a little truer, and quite a bit stronger, instead of just going big right away,” says owner and chief sales officer Jeremy Fishbaugh.
Now, with the business continuing to solidify its place in the Washington market, the Agro Couture team are ready to take their brand and their business model beyond state lines. “We’re really looking to take what we’ve perfected here and grow that nationally, because there’s no reason to reinvent the wheel,” Beauchamp says. “There’s upstart companies spending way too much money and way too much time trying to figure out things that we’ve had dialed in for seven years. There’s proven ways that we can help.”
Doing things the right way at Agro Couture is important to Fishbaugh because he sees the license as a blessing that was literally an answer to his prayers.
Fishbaugh says cannabis has been his “main source of income my adult life,” and he began to make a name for himself in Washington’s medical market, prior to adult-use legalization in 2012. But as the state prepared to launch its recreational industry, Fishbaugh says he was burned out and began to pray for guidance on what to do next with his life. Within two weeks a friend in the cannabis industry named R. Williams, who had a cannabis business license but could not use it at that time, got in touch.
“He told me that he had been praying on it and that God told him to give me his business license,” Fishbaugh says. “He was like, ‘You’re gonna be a bigger blessing with this than anybody else I would sell it to. And that’s most important to me,’” Fishbaugh remembers.
Williams even helped build the ownership group that is still together today, eight years later. With an amazing team in place, Agro Couture, a name picked by Williams, was able to secure a building with an option to buy and everything began falling into place.
In the beginning, the company focused on building out an approved elite lab facility, with the help of mastermind Les Higginbotham. This allowed the Agro Couture team to help increase input material for toll processing.
“We were taking other people’s product in and turning it into slabs,” Fishbaugh says, noting that because of the tools used in the process, he and his crew felt like mechanics working in a garage. When it came time to start their own brand, the name stuck and Slab Mechanix was born.
Determined to do right by its customers, Agro Couture decided to make its name selling high-end products at everyday prices. Though the oil was comparable to brands selling at $30 per gram, Agro Couture focused on moving volume at $20 per gram as a way to stand out in a crowded marketplace.
“So they’re getting a $30 gram for $20 and customers knew that. That’s why we blew up at that price point,” Fishbaugh says. “We wanted to be the leader in the space and we still own the $20 grams spot five years later.”
Through years of experience, the Agro Couture team has been able to create top-shelf cannabis products.
But those early years were not easy. The decision to keep prices low meant that sometimes the startup’s margins were often reduced to break-even levels, but Agro Couture was playing the long game.
Early on, Fishbaugh took over sales, personally making his pitch to retail stores across the state, delivering product himself and building relationships with store owners and buyers. Even as the brand began to blow up, Fishbaugh and the Agro Couture team — which consists of more than 40 full-time workers to ensure quick turnarounds on orders — made sure that there was always supply for its customers and that they always delivered on promises made, something that still powers the company today.
“We built it really slow and steady, instead of taking on more than we can chew,” Fishbaugh says, emphasizing the importance of his team. “After all this time, our long-term accounts are probably at least 25-40% of our monthly revenue still to this day.”
While most of the economy was forced to shut down, the COVID pandemic proved to be a boon to cannabis businesses, which were deemed essential and allowed to stay open in most states, including Washington. With most workers sitting at home watching television, and a series of stimulus checks sent out by the government, Agro Couture’s high-quality products at a fair price began flying off shelves.
“We grew by more than 60% in the in that first year of COVID,” Fishbaugh says.
Since joining the company during the pandemic, Beauchamp has focused on finding efficiencies in the business and shaving time and money off production that the company can then pass on to the consumer. Beauchamp also worked to expand the company’s product line, which was about 80% oil when he came on board, creating products to take the place of those from companies that did not weather the end of the pandemic bubble as well.
“As other farms were leaving the industry, we started picking up their product lines or the types of products that they were selling,” he says. “We said let’s make those and let’s make them better and we diversified our product line.”
Agro Couture expanded its flower lines, among other things, and becoming more relevant to retail buyers than just, well, slab mechanics.
“We’re innovators, man, like we are problem-solvers,” Fishbaugh says about his team. “It’s like what can we do to make a move to be here tomorrow?”
Beauchamp has also worked to bring on new accounts, impressing buyers with the quality of their product at industry events like Interchange, where the company was able to get its product in front of dozens of qualified buyers who could see the quality they were offering.
The Agro Couture team has never lost sight of the blessing the company is, and the importance of giving back to the community. Raising money for non-profits, charity drives and other events in its home city of Tacoma. Through the relationships it’s built, Agro Couture is able to help pass those blessings on to those less fortunate.
Agro Couture continues to not only grow its footprint in Washington, but to begin looking beyond the state lines, not just for future relationships and their brands but as consultants to pass on what they have learned over the years.
“When you look at what makes us successful, I think it comes down to just doing the right things…” Beauchamp says. “People are driven to us, because the reputation that we have is so good. And because we really value those relationships, and love to help others grow.”