Dana Sicko is the CEO of Nutreatious Personal Chef Services and Gundalow Juice. Nutreatious, which Dana founded in 2011, is a personal chef business focused on nutritious and fulfilling food. Gundalow Juice spun out of Nutreatious as a cold-pressed juice wholesaler. Started in 2014, the company has won acclaim and attention in Baltimore from consumers and investors alike. Last September, the Baltimore City Sun named Gundalow “Best Bottled Juice” on the 2015 Best of Baltimore list. Dana counts Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank among her entrepreneurial mentors, and Nutreatious plans to open a test kitchen in Plank Industries’ City Garage.
Can you tell us about starting Gundalow?
DANA SICKO: The vision and creation of Gundalow was started about two years ago. I was in one of my personal chef client’s kitchens and they had just ordered a bunch of juices from New York. He took a sip of the juice and made a horrible face. He hated the taste of it and said, “Ugh, I’m not going to drink that.” Knowing that that was a really expensive juice, I thought, “Hey, I could probably make you a better tasting juice.” I came back to their house the next day with a little juicer I bought at Williams-Sonoma and a bunch of mason jars, and it took me about 12 hours to make 12 juices that day, but at the end of that day I had successfully made a great tasting juice. My client said, “You know what? This is a business and you should go into it.”
Is it a challenge to divide your time between your responsibilities now that you’re running two companies?
Dividing my time between Nutreatious and Gundalow has been something that’s been easier as time has gone on, and as we’ve found the right people. I have a wonderful Operations Director now who’s able to handle a lot of what’s going on at Nutreatious and our wonderful clients on that side. Gundalow has required a little bit more of my time. Since it’s a newer business, there’s a lot for me to learn inside of that. With Nutreatious I was able to use a lot of my Nutritional Sciences background to help grow that, but in Gundalow there’s a lot of uncharted territory and a lot of things for me to learn. I’m really excited to be a part of and to build every day.
A gundalow is a kind of ship, right? Why did you choose to use that word for a juice company?
The name Gundalow, actually, I have to give credit to my husband for. I went to school at the University of New Hampshire, and there’s a little sea coast town called Portsmouth that my husband and I both love up there. When I was developing the juices I was really trying to think of a name that would mean something to me—though it could mean whatever you wanted to you, because most people don’t know what the word maybe means. We were out on a different boat on a tour. This boat came by and we asked, “What is that?” It looked historic, different than anything we’d ever seen, and he said, “Oh, that’s a Gundalow, and it’s job was, before our country was even born, to take the products that come into ships in port and deliver it to all of the sea coast towns.” And I thought, well, that’s kind of what we do with our juices. We take all the nutrition from the fruits and vegetables and deliver it to your body in a neat little vessel. Thus Gundalow was born, and my husband thought, “Hey, that’s a good name for a juice company.”
What is your vision for the company’s future?
My vision for Gundalow is a bit of a combination of an entrepreneurial spirit and also fueling people with the best quality nutrition possible. That’s our whole belief behind our motto of “Sail Windward,” which means to sail into the wind. We believe that success lies in the people who continue to sail into the wind, face adversity every day, and not take the easy way out. That’s what’s at the core of Gundalow Juice. That’s what made us be the first cold-pressed juice company in Maryland to wholesale and it’s what continues to make us great and grow into new markets and new cities and beyond.