Founders Adam Lien and Dan Cafferky are here to solve your supplement-shopping nightmares.
If you’re into health and fitness, chances are you’re also into supplements. Whether you’re just starting to dabble with protein powders and pre-workouts, or you’ve spent your entire paycheck on CLAs, Creatine HMB, Nitric Oxide, and BCAAs, the world of supplements has a little something for everyone.
There’s just one problem – buying supplements sucks.
Walk into your local supplement store and you’ll instantly experience it – the cringe-worthy sales tactics, the overwhelming floor-to-ceiling selection of products, and the pressure to buy something you’re not quite sure about. And don’t even get me started on shopping on Amazon. Sure, you get to skip the overly salesy guy at the front desk, but you still have to sort through thousands of options – many of which have questionable ingredients and make it impossible to tell if the product is legit, or just some random concoction with a shiny label.
The experience can be disheartening, especially when health and fitness are things you’re passionate about. It kind of makes you wonder, with the fitness industry growing so rapidly, how has no one realized this is a problem?
Well, Adam Lien and Dan Cafferky have. They’ve not only realized it, but they’ve done something about it. The duo, and the force behind both The Lift Box and the site you’re currently reading this article on, Headlines Over Sidelines, have recently taken on a new venture: Mission Ready Nutrition.
A brick-and mortar-supplement store just outside of Charleston, South Carolina, Mission Ready aims to bring Cafferky and Lien’s passion for health and fitness offline and expand their goal of helping people “be able to try new supplements, buy new supplements, and consume fitness content they can trust,” co-founder Cafferky says.
But Mission Ready didn’t just appear overnight because its founders wanted to open a supplement store. Instead, it took Cafferky and Lien over five years to realize they had the opportunity to change the supplement industry – in not just one, but three different ways.
Mission Ready Nutrition isn’t Lien and Cafferky’s first go-round with growing a business together. The pair initially connected back in 2018 over The Lift Box, the pair’s first brand.
The Lift Box, one of the fastest-growing fitness subscription boxes in the country, was started by Lien while he was serving in the Coast Guard. Standing on top of a shoot house at the Special Missions Training Center at Camp Lejeune in 2017, Lien spoke with the guys he was training with and realized they all shared a similar problem. “We were all sick of buying full-size supplements, and not liking them after trying them,” Lien says of how The Lift Box got its start. “I had a cabinet full of supps that were opened up, but likely never to be touched again. I thought ‘There has to be a better way to try new things,’ and The Lift Box was born.”
From that point, Lien got to work launching the subscription box, which included a new assortment of sample-sized supplements each month. Around a year later, Cafferky entered the picture, sliding into Lien’s DMs and offering to help build the brand for free. “I was just reaching out to fellow veterans working on cool projects and offering to help out. I would’ve never imagined what happened next,” he says.
A 6-year Navy veteran with a background in marketing, Cafferky came on board in 2018 and helped grow the company to its first $1 million in revenue before he and Lien ever met in person.
Now five years later, The Lift Box has over 10,000 active subscribers and is growing faster than ever. But Cafferky and Lien still weren’t satisfied with their contributions to the supplement industry. Especially once they started realizing how things worked in the world of fitness.
“We saw the same style of problems that kicked off The Lift Box,” Cafferky says of the eye-opening experience he and Lien shared while growing a fitness-focused business. “Fitness media was pushing fad content and products that wrote the biggest paychecks.”
Realizing that readers and customers weren’t actually being introduced to the best products on the market, but instead the products with the biggest marketing budgets, the duo decided to launch Headlines Over Sidelines, a social-first media company where content is co-produced by fitness experts and athletes – not big brands that pay to have their products labeled as “the best.”
“The mission of Headlines Over Sidelines is to be the go-to media source for any stage in someone’s fitness journey, and to help them get off the sidelines,” Cafferky says. The platform, which is just under two years old, is dedicated to providing readers with real reviews and products that are actually trusted by fitness professionals. “Products that are featured don’t contain affiliate links just because there’s a big referral check,” Cafferky says, emphasizing the site’s mission of keeping its integrity over making a quick dollar.
“Money has never been the driving factor for anything we’ve built,” Lien adds. “The first three years, there wasn’t a single penny taken by either of us. Still to this day, we put the vast majority of earnings back into making the businesses better and providing more local jobs.”
Those local jobs have recently doubled, as Lien and Cafferky launched their third business this September, Mission Ready Nutrition. The first-of-its-kind supplement store aims to fill the last problem that Lien and Cafferky noticed after five years in the supplement industry. “The buying experience when it comes to walking into a supplement store or shopping online is terrible,” Cafferky says.
“Mission Ready Nutrition was started to provide the best supplements, snacks, and accessories for everyone,” he stressed, highlighting how traditional supplement stores put unnecessary pressure on customers and can create an uncomfortable shopping experience – especially if you’re new to supplements.
“We carry the brands customers want, not the ones with the largest profit margins,” Cafferky says, ensuring that customers won’t have to deal with being pitched subpar brands just because they provide the biggest kickbacks. This is especially helpful if you’re not yet sure what you’re shopping for, but just want to choose from the best of the best. Essentially, the goal of Mission Ready is to make sure that whatever supplements you choose, you can’t go wrong with Cafferky and Lien’s hand-picked, trusted brands.
“We want to help people become mission ready whatever their mission might be,” Cafferky says.
But becoming mission-ready doesn’t stop at just supplements.
“We’ve invested in a top-of-the-line body composition scanner. Anyone can go into the Mission Ready store and get their scan results completely free,” he says. While most places that offer InBody scans charge upwards of $150 for a test, Mission Ready’s complimentary scans demonstrate to shoppers that this nutrition store is actually here to help people live healthier, fitter lives.
The store also features an arcade-style claw machine packed with supplements, neon lights, and a free energy drink program for first responders and military personnel. Sounds a lot more fun than your traditional supplement store, huh?
“There’s still a lot of work to be done, but slowing down is not an option,” Cafferky says of his and Lien’s mission to transform the supplement and fitness industry.
“It’s crazy looking back on the last few years and how far we’ve come. We regularly get messages about being part of people’s fitness journeys, and we’ve seen stories from [people] losing over 100 pounds to beating cancer. The products and content we provide were part of their journey, and that makes it all worth it,” Lien says.
If you’re local, stop in and check out Mission Ready Nutrition at 101 Old Trolley Rd, Summerville, SC 29485 or give them a follow @missionreadynutrition.