Stephen Zieminski knows his market. A former college athlete, the founder of Naked Nutrition lives a disciplined life of fitness and wellness—and when he launched his business in 2014, he was banking on the hope that there were a lot of others like him.
A Floridian through and through, Miami Beach-based Zieminski was born and raised in Sarasota, earned his B.A. and M.A. in accounting from the University of Florida’s Warrington School of Business, then went on to graduate University of Florida’s law school. To do all that takes determination, especially when you’re an All-American track star (Zieminski was also an academic All-American).
In someone’s life, the thing you do on the side, the thing that drives you and inspires your passion, can take center stage, but it’s rare. It’s the dream of a lot of professionals. Right out of law school, Zieminski started racking up prestige jobs—senior associate at Ernst & Young, analyst at Royal Bank of Canada—but he cultivated these side projects with protein products. Eventually he traded in the water cooler for the blender, and within four months he was selling six figures a month.
In 2020, Naked Nutrition did more than $20 million in sales.
During the pandemic, “more people were buying online than ever before, so that was a boon to my business,” Zieminski says. “I sell online, almost exclusively.” If he says “I” instead of “we,” he’s being literal: Zieminski is the company’s only employee, having perfected a structure using contractors, agencies and vendors.
So how did someone with a background in accounting, law and finance locate manufacturers to partner with? On that point, Zieminski is candid. “It’s a lot of trial-and-error,” he concedes. “I’ve partnered up with other firms that had more experience in the food and sports supplement development process that were able to point me to manufacturers. But back in the 2010s, that was really more on me to find outfits that would take on a brand-new company.” He explains that he’s had to source outside the state: “Very few ingredients that go into sports supplements are manufactured in Florida, unfortunately. Dairy isn’t a big thing in Florida; pea protein isn’t made in Florida. But we have the chemical components manufactured in Florida.”
Naked Nutrition is continually adding new products and new markets, expanding into Canada, the U.K. and Europe. “We are working on relaunching our protein bars, protein cookies and multivitamins, rolling out in the next four to five months, really trying to be the company that offers products for all times of the day,” he says. “We launched Naked Shake a few months ago, a vegan protein shake that is a very easy product for people to incorporate into their lifestyles. Add water to it, shake it up, and you have a well-balanced meal.” Naked Shake represents something of a departure in terms of approach: “While earlier products were focused on simplicity of ingredients, Naked Shake has more detail, more complexity, so people will instantly like it, versus learning to love it.”
Next on the horizon: potentially partnering with local gyms, installing smoothie bars inside. Soon, fitness buffs may be chugging Zieminski’s shakes between sets, benefitting from the fruits of his labors.