When Maddy Svihra graduated from Eastern Michigan University last summer, she was already midway through establishing Revive Dexter. She opened Revive in October after four months of renovating the former home of Watchtower Comics into a brightly colored cafe serving up Herbalife shakes.
Svihra is an independent distributor for Herbalife, a global multilevel marketing corporation. Revive specializes in shakes made from drink mixes. Promoted primarily as meal replacements for weight loss programs, they come in flavors ranging from simple chocolate to elaborate creations like peanut butter cheesecake. Svihra says she “was hooked on [that one] for a long time. Then I moved up to peanut butter pie–that one’s good too. I really like the birthday cake, and banana nut muffin is a good one too!”
Svihra says all have approximately the same nutritional value: “seventeen grams of protein and twenty-one vitamins and minerals! We use a protein powder that’s a milk replacement because milk has a lot of added sugar.” (Milk does have twelve grams of lactose per cup, but it’s naturally occurring, not added.)
Alongside the eighty-plus flavors of shakes at Revive, Svihra also sells Herbalife-brand iced teas and aloe shots “good for hydration and digestion.” She also provides paid “wellness” coaching where she helps clients determine shake-based meal plans, though, she qualifies, “I’m not a dietitian and I’m not a nutritionist.”
She began drinking Herbalife shakes at the now-closed 3D Nutrition in Ypsilanti. “I went there, and I ended up getting on a program. I got a result, and from there it kind of just blossomed into me then joining the business and realizing that I could earn some extra income while making people get happier and healthier.” She sells the mixes themselves to customers who sign onto an Herbalife program.
She says she’s seen some hesitation at the Herbalife name. “Most of our protein is soy-based … people are turned off by the soy. Sometimes people are turned off by knowing it’s an MLM,” in which distributors are encouraged to recruit other distributors. Herbalife’s multilevel structure was the subject of a 2016 FTC investigation that resulted in a $200 million settlement and restructuring of its business model.
Svihra says that even people with an initially negative reaction “end up coming back because they’re curious … This is the high school hangout now, so they’re very curious why all these high school students are in here all the time, and why people are so happy and positive all the time.”
She says she isn’t using Revive to recruit other distributors: “I’m not currently on the search, I haven’t been. It’ll happen if it needs to happen. I’m more invested in just having a space for the community to come together.”
A Dexter High grad, Svihra credits social media, specifically Instagram, for bringing those students in. “Even though I’m younger and I should know social media, it’s not my forte,” she says. “It’s been a learning process.” You’d never know: she posts excitedly about new shakes and flash deals on Facebook and Instagram at least once a day, using bright graphics and photos of smiling customers.
Revive Dexter, 8066 Main. (734) 253-2112. Mon.-Fri. 7 a.m.-1:30 p.m. & 2:30-7 p.m. Closed Sat. & Sun. (seasonal hours). facebook.com/ReviveDexter