In Business: Dr. Joey’s SkinnyChews

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Nutritionist has the skinny on weightloss

Best selling author and nutritionist Dr. Joey Shulman had just finished telling her husband she was considering going on Dragon’s Den when the couple ran into one of the show’s panelists.

“It was very serendipitous because we were walking and talking and my husband said, ‘Yeah, that’s a good idea’ and then literally we turned and I’m face to face with Jim Treliving so it was like a sign to go on the show,” Shulman says from her office on Avenue Road north of Dupont Street. “I love the idea of Canadian entrepreneurs getting the chance to take their products or their ideas to a higher level.”

Although Shulman is a regular health and wellness expert on Cityline, author of five nutrition books including The Natural Makeover Diet and The Last 15 – A Weight Loss Breakthrough and the owner of Shulman Weight Loss clinics, she says she went on the show asking for help when it came to marketing Dr. Joey’s Skinnychews, her line of low-calorie treats.

“I’ve been in the weightloss world for 11 years and I could see there was one common theme, which was every woman, every man started their day off really well with a good breakfast but people didn’t finish their day as well,” she said, explaining that she found from 3 p.m. on is when people tend to fall off the nutritional train: eating the wrong foods, high sugar and high-carb foods.

Her discovery led her to develop the chews — chocolaty morsels that have fewer than 20 calories each and are high in fibre. She purposely created them in a chew format so it would take consumers longer to eat them and they couldn’t binge on them.

“I knew this would be a hit because I could see from my own clientele it was keeping them back on track instead of them falling off the rails,” she said. “They’re not eating junk — they don’t have to eat junk — and these will satisfy and get them back to healthy eating choices, so it’s really a bridge to their next meal or snack.”

The Dragons were convinced.

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Four of the panelists offered Shulman a deal, but she took on a partnership with Arlene Dickinson that offered $375,000 worth of media placement and marketing on top of a $375,000 buy-in for a 25 percent stake in the venture.

Dr. Joey’s Skinnychews are now available at stores across the country, including GNC, Longo’s and Pusateri’s stores in Toronto.

Shulman is in the process of developing a caramel flavour but believes the chocolate chew will remain the biggest seller.

The self-proclaimed nutrition geek admits she’s been reading health and wellness books since she was 11. A chiropractor by trade, she got into nutrition and weight loss because she thought it was where she could make the biggest difference, she says.

Although partnering with Dickinson has been a recent career highlight, she also counts her time on Cityline and being asked by nutritional guru Dr. Andrew Weil to present the latest information on natural approaches to ADD to 300 doctors as big career moments.

After more than a decade in the industry, she still finds it satisfying to see the before-and-after results of her clients, she says. Some of these women, who have lost as much as 69 pounds, are featured on her website.

“Seeing people really reclaim their health and vitality through food, that is still the greatest work I can do,” she said. “It continues to be exciting, it continues to show me just how powerful nutrition is and I think that’s what keeps me going.”

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