An interview with Dana Sicko: ultimate Baltimore foodie, founder of Gundalow Gourmet

Graymake — and thus, I — is getting ready to release my first newsletter. To bulk it up so it’s chock-full of helpful content, I plan to interview an entrepreneur or CEO so they can share their wisdom with our learning community.

For my first-ever interview, I decided to start with Dana Sicko, 28-year-old founder Baltimore-based Gundalow Gourmet and former wildly successful Gundalow Juice. Sicko’s team, made up of six women, prepares delicious, healthy dishes in a former car dealership that has been transformed into an incubator for culinary start-ups, writes Julie Scharper of JHU.

We had an open and honest conversation about facing fears, especially when it’s hard.


Name: Dana Sicko

Title: Founder, Gundalow Gourmet Personal Chef and Boutique Catering

Years in Business or Year of Founding: 2011 (“8 years; pinch me,” writes Sicko.)

Industry: Life Simplification and Customer Service through Food


Anne Hilb: Dana, to date, what is the biggest fear you have had to overcome in order to run a successful business; both personally and professionally?

Dana Sicko: I had a business coach once tell me that “fear” is an acronym for “false evidence appearing real.” I liked it because that was usually the truth:

Whatever I was nervous/ anxious/ scared about was created by my lack of facts and usually just amplified by my own insecurities. There was always a way around the fear and once I got to the bottom of what I was scared of, it really wasn’t so scary.

Though in September 2018, I was faced with a fear that I was led to by real evidence: It was time to close Gundalow Juice, a company that myself, my mom, a beautiful team had worked tirelessly on for over four years to create.

We were the first Maryland to be a licensed wholesaling cold-pressed juice company, there were articles written that included “Best of’s” and “Who to Watch,” fans who loved the product so much they would meet us at the farmer’s market every Saturday, and social media posts that made me smile from ear to ear thinking, “someone took time out of their day to post about OUR juice!”

But the truth was, the business was unsustainable at the level where we were (under-marketed, under distributed, more expensive compared to our increasing competition) so I made the decision to close it.

I feared everything that would come with this decision. What would it look like financially, would this put stress on my marriage, could this jeopardize the future of Gundalow Gourmet, will I be able to get out of the bed in the morning, will I lose friendships because of this, will I survive this failure?

It has not been easy but it was a fear that I faced head on and I am stronger for it. I have fallen more in love with my husband. I work harder for Gundalow Gourmet and as a result, more opportunities have opened themselves to the business. I have learned who my true friends are. Physical stress that had manifested (thinning hair and skin problems) have all cleared up.

I get out of bed each morning and I am surviving the failure… And sometimes I listen to Taylor Swift’s “Long Live” on repeat while ugly crying.

I think feeling every emotion, good or bad, is all part of the process of facing fears.


AH: What is something about you that would surprise most people?

DS: My husband does most of the cooking in the household.


AH: What advice might you offer entrepreneurs just starting out, especially in regards to fear and uncertainty?

DS: It’s going to be hard work.

You will have people tell you no more times than you thought possible.

You are going to learn more than you ever thought possible and even though it’s not going to be the cost of college, you are going to have to pay for it.

You are going to have to make a lot of tough decisions, but surround yourself with the best people imaginable and you’ll be able to get through the fears and uncertainty, and you will always be stronger for it- even when you think it makes you weaker.

You’re not alone, ever.

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