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Read on to learn about a Cincinnati-based health food business, spreading approachable and attainable wellness one prepped meal at a time.


Midwest Meal Prep is a commissary kitchen based in Newport, Kentucky.

Want to eat healthier but don’t have time for it? A local, health food-focused meal prep business can help with that.

Midwest Meal Prep is based in a commissary kitchen in Newport, Kentucky. “The kitchen is called The Incubator Kitchen and it has been a huge kick start to my business,” Mike Mandell-Brown says, Owner and Founder of Midwest Meal Prep. “It’s a great way for businesses to make the leap from initial inception of concept into production without having to acquire property and such.” Midwest Meal Prep has been in business for two years, and they’ve been in The Incubator Kitchen for one year.

Mandell-Brown brings a college education to his business. “I have been to college for classic French techniques and restaurant management. At the same time, I have worked several years in the field in high volume restaurants crafting my skills as a chef and a leader,” he says. “In 2013, I started my career at PF Changs as a Sous Chef, which helped me learn how to manage people and deal with the stresses and challenges that it presents. Then in 2015, I started a food truck with close friends and have also been doing that ever since.”

The inspiration for the business started in 2013 when Mandell-Brown’s friend approached him about his cooking in 2013. “[My friend] owned a gym and had clients who needed a way to eat better and we sat down and went over some ideas,” Mandell-Brown says. “That was the first time my two passions, cooking and fitness, came together in a harmonious fashion and it just felt right. From there I started coming up with names and such, finally settling on Midwest Meal Prep.”

The target demographic for Midwest Meal Prep has changed over time. “Originally, I was narrow minded in my scope of clients, only focusing on those who were imbedded in the fitness community. Whereas now, we have realized that these services can help not only the aspiring body builder or athlete, but we can help John S who works 9-5, six days a week and just want to eat some healthier foods while trying to balance his life,” Mandell-Brown says. “We feel anyone can start making better life decisions and a great way to start is to be mindful of the foods we put in our bodies, our fuel. It also helps people who need more time in their lives elsewhere and can’t devote two plus hours a week to source food and prepare healthy meals for themselves or family. So, to answer the question, our target demographic is anyone who wants to eat healthy and conveniently while having peace of mind that the food they are eating is flavorful and nutritious.”

There are a variety of services that Midwest Meal Prep offers. There are “weekly meals delivered or dropped off to clients with new and exciting flavors each week. We also offer protein by the pound, vegetables by the pound, or carbohydrates by the pound each week. There are breakfast, lunch and dinner options,” he says.

Midwest Meal Prep is a unique business in the Greater Cincinnati area. “We are set apart with our heightened culinary driven food we offer with a healthy twist,” Mandell-Brown says. “When I sit down and think up new menu options, I try to think of ways to take everyday foodies and make them healthier, for example, our Turkey Mac. We use cottage cheese instead of high fatty American cheese and brown rice noodles for added protein.”

Mandell-Brown’s favorite part of working for Midwest Meal Prep is hearing the input of the customers. “It’s nice to get client feedback after meals have been delivered or see pictures of our food on someone’s social media,” he said. “I’m a chef and I love to cook. This is a great way to mesh that with the health and fitness lifestyle.”

If you want to keep up with what Midwest Meal Prep is doing, follow them on Facebook, Instagram, or their website.

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Learn about a local photographer who is giving women a healthy dose of confidence by empowering them to do boudoir photo shoots.

Image: Meredith Calle
La Bella Glamour & Boudoir Photography aims to empower women and make them feel beautiful.

For Meredith Calle, Owner of La Bella Glamour & Boudoir Photography, it’s about much more than capturing a flesh-filled photo. It’s about empowerment, she says.

“Every woman deserves to feel beautiful,” Calle adds. “Having a few hours to pamper and capture beautiful images of my clients is why we enjoy what we do – Empowering women to feel like they’re beautiful from the inside out.”

Over the past 12 years Calle has been photographing newborn, children, seniors, families, engagement and weddings as the owner of Lifelong Memories Photography. In 2015, she decided to start offering boudoir and glamour photography to her clientele in response to demand through La Bella Glamour & Boudoir Photography. Being a member of Newport, KY-based Studio 821, a collaborative studio for professional photographers, provides the perfect space for photo shoots and meetings for all of these types of photography.


The early-1900s vintage studio features high ceilings and large windows that pour in natural light. There’s also an assortment of antique and modern furniture pieces, chandeliers, fireplaces, exposed brick and antique barn wood walls – as well as wood floors and rooms with solid white walls and baseboards for more of a sleek modern feel – for a variety of backgrounds for every session. And more options are on the way, Calle says. “Another room is being added and more furniture options to photograph with during sessions,” she explains.

“La Bella is a fun and relaxed studio in a trustworthy environment where women can be photographed as covered up or as carefree as they wish,” Calle explains. “Wardrobe varies from each client and can include formal dresses, jewelry, heels, or lacy lingerie. Professional makeup is also provided for each session. I work with each client prior to the photo shoot to plan their wardrobe and to decide if they want sexy or glamour images or a mixture of both.”

Calle says Studio 821 is unlike any other studio in the Cincinnati area. “We play music of our clients’ choice, provide beverages, as well as a professional makeup artist to start off the session with pizzazz,” she says. “Our boudoir sessions are very professional and focused on making you feel and look gorgeous.”

Like La Bella on Facebook or call 859-331-5379. You can also visit the studio at 821 York Street in Newport.

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Learn about the inspiring local lady who’s building a yoga community - through her yoga retreats and studios in OTR and Newport - from the Tri-State to Bali.

Retreat group
A group from one of Rachel Roberts’ retreats she holds at places around the world.

Rachel Roberts traveled around the world for two years and visited 27 countries before opening her business, The Yoga Bar. Today, she runs two yoga studios – one in Newport and the other in OTR – while also coordinating yoga retreats and local events.

“The Yoga Bar studios have done just that,” she says. “The Yoga Bar hosts the wildly popular Yoga on the Green series in Washington Park during the summers and holds classes around Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky in historically and artistically important locations like the Krohn Conservatory, The Taft Museum and the CAC.”

The Yoga Bar studios opened in downtown Cincinnati in 2010 and in Newport’s East Row district in 2013. Last year, in January 2015, the Cincinnati location was moved to the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood at 15 West 14th Street.

Before opening the Yoga Bar studios, Roberts first found yoga in 1998. A naturopathic doctor suggested she use asana and pranayama as a way to control her troubling asthma. “In 2008, I left my home in the U.S. to travel the world through yoga, studying under great yogis throughout Europe and Asia,” she says. “In 2009, I continued my learning at Sri K. Patabbhi Jois’ Ashtanga Research Institute in Mysore, India, and attended the Mandala teacher training in Bali with Shiva Rea.”

Now, her studios host workshops, guest teachers, cultural events and live music. Package discounts are available for those who would like to be more active at the studios. Private and corporate lessons are also available.

Through the Yoga Bar, Roberts has been able to also share her travels with others by leading retreats in some of the most beautiful, spiritual and naturally inspiring places on the planet. Roberts hosts local and international retreats on yoga and meditations.

Rachel Roberts, Founder of The Yoga Bars, Bija Retreats and The Bija Yoga School

“My classes meld all the limbs of Yoga into practices that are invigorating, inspiring and challenging physically, spiritually and emotionally,” says Roberts.

In addition to her Yoga Bar studios, Roberts is the founder of The Bija Yoga School and Bija Retreats. She holds annual yoga retreats as close as Hocking Hills and as far away as Bali, Indonesia.

The annual retreats are also hosted in revolving locations including Cooper Island in the British Virgin Islands and Tulum, Mexico.

“The retreats range from a three-day weekend to a full week,” explains Roberts. “The themes revolve around the time of year, like a recent New Year’s retreat and March’s Bali retreat, which coincides with their lunar new year and a festival called Nyepi – a day of silent reflection for the entire island.”

The local retreats Roberts hosts in Hocking Hills start at $375 while a week in Bali for a solo traveler will cost around $2,250.

Roberts says the intention of the retreats is to take away the burden of decision making and to provide a sanctuary for guests to experience renewal, restoration and rejuvenation.

“Retreats are completely planned from the moment you arrive; meals, transportation, excursions are all included and are also all optional, so that participants can enjoy down time if they choose or hike to natural wonders, whichever fills their cup on that day,” says Roberts.

The yoga classes at retreats are held in the morning and afternoon. According to Roberts, morning practices are generally Ashtanga/Vinyasa, a more invigorating practice, and afternoons are Yin or Restorative yoga, for relaxation and meditation.

“Each retreat is different depending on the group, season and location, but all include expert yoga instruction, gourmet meals, high-end accommodations and local excursions,” says Roberts.

Roberts says that an increase in demand means there will be four retreats in Hocking Hills this year in January, May, August and November. She will also be hosting the Dia de Los Muertas retreat in Tulum, Mexico, and hopes to hold a retreat in Europe in 2017.

To learn more about the Yoga Bars, visit To learn more about Roberts’ retreats by click here.

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See how this new co-working and event space in Newport is giving local creatives and freelancers a communal space to work and be inspired.

Borderlands is the Tri-State's newest coworking space that's aiming to inspire creatives.
Borderlands is the Tri-State’s newest coworking space that’s aiming to inspire creatives.

Newport is now home to Borderlands, the newest co-working studio and event space for local creatives and freelancers.

“The name Borderlands hints at our desire to always be challenging new limits and taking new territory in our lives and in our businesses,” explains Borderlands Co-Founder Darrin Murriner. “It also pays tribute to our proximity at the Kentucky and Ohio borders, and being just a few blocks from the Ohio River.”

Murriner founded Borderlands with Jon Willis, a world renowned photographer who has filmed around the world for companies including Google, Wal-Mart and P&G and has had some of his photography featured in magazines such as Inc., Fortune and Bicycling Magazine.

Murriner has his own background in studio work as the co-founder of Stockpilz, an UpTech class 4 company. He’s also the author of the book Corporate Bravery.

Borderlands is located on Monmouth Street in Newport.

While Murriner and Willis hosted a soft opened for Borderlands in October, they’re planning for a grand opened on Dec. 16. This grand opening, according to Murriner, will include an open house for anyone in the community who’s interested in a workspace, meeting locations or a studio space to complete a creative project.

When it comes to opening Borderlands, there’s a lot Murriner and his business partner are looking forward to including creating a community of freelancers, business owners, entrepreneurs and creatives that want to help inspire each other. “We have always found the best things in life are accomplished in teams of people working toward a common goal,” explains Murriner. “This is often difficult when you are a founder, freelancer or designer, and we want to bring that community to bear on others art or business.”

The open house on Dec. 16 will be from 4-6 p.m. There will be free drinks as well as appetizers. Murriner says the team at Borderlands also plans to host lunch-and-learns around topics of interest for creatives and entrepreneurs. “You can favorite our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter to hear about the most current events,” he adds.

To learn more about Borderlands, visit