Recently, 26-year-old Chelsea Bell began a late day illuminating the already clean stainless steel counters in Blended & Blessed as wet car tires rolled along Thurman Avenue on a rainy Wednesday morning.
The cursive font menu across the room includes flavored drinks such as Tiger Lily Tea, Chocolate Brownie Batter Shake, Strawberries, and Cream Coffee. Not healthy, but made with protein powder and other dietary supplements.
Blended & Blessed is a new kid in the German Village block. The storefront, which opened in early May and offers shake, energy and nutrition coffee, took over the lease of the former Native Cold Press location until July next year.
The Ohio State University Senior Kamlin Colter, 21, has created a space as an independently owned and operated Herbalife Nutrition Club that sells drinks made from dietary supplements manufactured by a Los Angeles-based company. I run it.
What is a “nutrition club”?
Small storefronts promoting similar shakes, teas and coffees are beginning to be scattered in more corners of the Columbus district and the surrounding suburbs.
Like Blended & Blessed, these pop-up shops offering sugar-flavored meal replacement drinks are often Herbalife Nutrition Clubs.
Most clubs may not be visibly affiliated with the controversial dietary supplement company Herbalife Nutrition, which uses an independent salesperson’s MLM model, such as Amway and Arbonne. There is. Herbalife has been investigated by the Federal Trade Commission for misleading money-making claims.
Behind the counter is a nutrition club full of Herbalife brand white and green containers for use in menu items or for sale directly to customers.
However, in accordance with the rules of the Nutrition Club, the club is not allowed to act as the official franchise, retailer or restaurant of Herbalife.
Herbalife restricts distributors wishing to open a commercial club, including prohibiting salespeople from promoting Herbalife products and painting club operators with window colors. It is provided.
“As an owner, it’s hard to be:” I promise not to be in the shade. I’m just trying to keep the rules, “Coulter said.
Umberto Kaleha, Vice President of Herbalife in North America, said that instead of running as a retail store with a menu of products for sale, club operators pay for nutrition club membership and for people who shake or drink tea on the club’s premises. You can charge a “consumption” fee. Sales, events, promotions.
You can get a shake and tee combo anywhere from $ 12 to $ 16 in Blended & Blessed.
The company wants nutrition clubs to run as personal meeting spaces rather than businesses of any kind, but the boundaries are ambiguous. It’s hard to distinguish Blended & Blessed from other stores that sell drinks and treats.
According to Calleja, nutrition clubs account for nearly 70% of the company’s annual global sales, at $ 5.5 billion in 2020. There are more than 70,000 clubs worldwide, of which 9,900 are in the United States. Herbalife is traded on the New York Stock Exchange.
According to the Nutrition Club Network, a website that maps the geographic location of Herbalife Nutrition Clubs, there are more than 30 nutrition clubs in and around Columbus. Some have been around for as long as four yearsOn the other hand, others like Blended & Blessed opened last year during the pandemic.
“We had a hard time at first because we had to tell the community who we were and what we were doing,” Colter said. “I think everyone has their own opinion about MLM, so it was a bit difficult at first to protect what we were doing.”
Herbalife and other companies operating on similar business models have been around for decades. Through MLM, people who are not considered employees sell products for the company and often recruit others to sell the products.
In 2016, Herbalife was on fire after the FTC ordered a former independent distributor who lost money to pay $ 200 million. FTC Did not label Herba Life as a Pyramid, The company has ordered a top-down restructuring of its business model, not prioritizing independent distributors who ask to sell their products.
Although Blended & Blessed has a website with an online ordering form, most Herbalife Nutrition clubs maintain their presence on Instagram and Facebook and are more closely monitored.
Colter said she and her family are independent distributors of HerbaLife because they like HerbaLife’s products. Not because she wants to climb to the top. She doesn’t feel obsessed with the way Herbalife does business.
She added that selling Herbalife products and running a nutrition club is not the end of her life.
Coulter, who studies sports management and non-profit management, said: Blended & Blessed will donate a portion of its profits to various charities every month. June donations will be sent to LGBTQ youth advocacy groups Trevor Project..
Colter says he is happy to answer questions that may be for everyone.
“What we can do is always be honest, honest and transparent,” says Colter. “There is no high-rise bar. You can literally see everything we are doing.”
Weight loss, healthy life, COVID-19
Liz Weinandy, a registered dietitian at the Wexner Medical Center, said social media apps can have an impact on the culture surrounding the diet.
The pandemic has triggered a resurgence of people searching online and offline for ways to lose weight. It sometimes leads to her belief that it is an unhealthy solution.
She said she would suspend recommendations for products such as those sold by HerbaLife to patients.
“Supplement is unregulated and has its strengths and weaknesses,” Weinandy said. “You and I could make these products in the basement or garage and sell them for that reason.”
In a broader sense, meal replacement products can have short-term results, but often do not continue to work in the long term. She said lifestyle changes-exercise, adding fruits and vegetables to the diet, introducing dietary alternatives and cutting processed foods instead of skipping the diet altogether-are more sustainable.
“I always tell people,’You don’t have to do anything fascinating.’ Everyone has to attend some programs, spend a lot of money, and follow some rigorous regiments. I think there is, but it’s not really necessary, “said Weinandy.