DJ Dorn never expected to go into business with her sister but in September she and her younger sister, Kaia Dorn, opened The Bridge Nutrition downtown Waterloo.
DJ, 24, and Kaia, 23, were born and raised in the city and when they decided to open a nutrition club, found a prime spot where they previously worked.
The location, 134 E. Madison St., had previously been The Bridge Lounge bar, where the sisters had bartended before it closed.
“We’re still bartending – but it’s just healthy bartending,” Kaia said. “We can help people but we still get the social aspect.”
The Bridge Nutrition serves up healthy Herbalife shakes and tea bombs to help people with all aspects of nutrition. It was while attending college that Kaia became introduced to nutrition clubs. As a collegiate softball player, the younger Dorn sister would stop by a nutrition club to get a post-workout or post-game shake, or just hang out and do homework.
“I kind of dove more into the nutrition aspect of sports,” she said. “We’ve both been super active our whole lives. Throughout high school we were three-sport athletes but we never did much with nutrition so it was really cool to learn that all in college.”
Kaia, who holds a bachelor’s degree in animal science, never thought she would end up opening one herself, but after attending a large corporate event and hearing the stories of other nutrition club owners, Kaia decided it was an opportunity she wanted to pursue herself.
“I literally got home that night and I called my sister,” Kaia said.
It didn’t take more than a request from her younger sister that brought DJ, who has a bachelor’s degree in nursing, on board.
“It’s my favorite thing,” DJ said when asked what it’s like working with her sister. “We’ve worked together for the last five years out at River Bend and we constantly push each other the entire time. It’s really fun growing together.”
Some people may see the business is a nutrition club and assume they need to be a member to stop by for a shake or tea. DJ said while it’s referred to as a club, The Bridge Nutrition is open to everyone who wants to stop by the former bar for a healthy beverage.
“Pretty much the idea of the nutrition club is that it’s a big sample shop,” Kaia explained. “It’s kind of like a coffee shop or a smoothie shop; the idea is to try something that you like and then hopefully you like it so much, you want to make it at home and we can help you do that.”
The women are not the first members of their family to open their own business. Their father, Rick Dorn, he previously operated his own trucking company. He shared his own experiences and knowledge of running a business with his daughters.
“He didn’t sugar coat it at all,” DJ said. “He let us know what we were getting into with this. But he’s been very supportive at the same time.”
The sisters are excited about being part of the downtown Waterloo revitalization, mentioning more formerly empty stores are once again being filled with businesses.
“We want to continue to grow and make every community as healthy as it can be,” Kaia said. “Seeing my own clients and seeing their results was very addicting,” Kaia said. “And I thought, what better place to open than my hometown. … I never expected to see myself doing this but I love it.”