Sailing Windward: A Talk with Dana of Gundalow Juice
When I first sat down to revamp The Office Goth, I realized I wanted to present an open and honest portrait of managing anxiety. I'm still learning how to do this, but by sharing my methods for healthy living – I'm hoping to start more conversations about the different ways to put yourself first.
I had been planning this week to share with you a little mixed drink I made using Gundalow Juice, but in reaching out to Dana, the owner of the company, we started a really great conversation about the importance of managing physical and mental health. Starting a small business is a huge decision, and there's a ton of work that goes into it. So, my drinks are on the back burner for this week – they'll be up next week! – and instead, let's talk about self care, green juices and not giving up with Dana.
Hi Dana! Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. First up, Gundalow Juice aims to deliver nutrition to your whole body – which is such a cool statement because it seems to address mental health as well as physical health.
I'm a really firm believer in putting good things into my body in order to encourage a positive effect on both my mental and physical health, and Gundalow seems to stand by this too. What encouraged your company to adopt this mindset?
I studied nutritional sciences in college and I was lucky enough to have a group of professors who believed in teaching us the holistic approach to health. Our curriculum not only taught us the science of nutrition, but it also included psychology classes as well as cooking classes. The University of New Hampshire was really committed to making well rounded nutritionists and I am very grateful.
I also had an eating disorder in high school that shaped a lot of my perspective on food and well being. I wasn’t eating enough, especially not for being an athlete, and I was never happy with myself. During this time I felt insecure and often sad. I would see magazines and advertisements that would boast about foods being “gluten-free… fat-free…sugar-free.” I remember crying because I wanted to eat a granny smith apple, but I read that it has too much sugar and I no longer knew what I could eat. Luckily, with the support of family, friends and coaches I got better. I decided after that experience that if I ever created a product I would make it with the best, simplest ingredients from nature. I do not like to put claims on our bottles because I never want someone to feel judged by our juice. We think you are perfect the way that you are and we believe in everything that you are working for. I wish that sentiment was being preached by more products when I was in high school rather than promoting that I don’t eat a gram of fat or carbohydrates.
What got you into pressed juices to begin with? How did that develop into the start of Gundalow Juice?
I started Nutreatious, my personal chef business, about 8 months after I graduated college. The goal of Nutreatious is to simplify the healthy life in the most delicious way. My chefs tailor all of the food to each client and come in to our client’s home after grocery shopping, cook everything, clean up and leave everything neatly labeled in the refrigerator. We love making healthier versions of clients’ favorite foods by incorporating more fruits and vegetables, but first and foremost it has to taste great. One of my clients was asking for better tasting juices (they had been ordering cold-pressed juices from LA and New York) because they couldn’t find one to drink without grimacing. So I showed up the next day with a table top juicer and made a green juice my client loved. I made them for more and more clients and decided that it was time to make this its own business and basically bottle the Nutreatious service.
When we called the health department, they told us no one in Maryland had become a wholesaler of cold-pressed juice yet, so I thought someone has to be first, and my team and I were crazy enough to do it. To do this it meant to drive a truck to Philadelphia or New Jersey for a process that took 120 seconds. We would juice until one in the morning sometimes, but we had a lot of fun and new we needed to create this for Baltimore. We were the juice company that never should have happened, but we went into uncharted territory and for every “no" we heard we would work twice as hard. That’s what “sail windward” means.
My personal favorite is the SS Veggie but I love that you release different juices for the seasons. What inspires your seasonal juices?
Yay! I’m so glad you love S.S.Veggie. They come from different places of inspiration and emotions. Dockside sunrise was inspired by pineapple salsa, S.S.Veggie came from the determination to make a non-grassy green juice. Watermelon waves was just something I wanted to drink after I ran. I use inspiration from everywhere which is why I think people have liked them so much. I have never said okay we have to use ingredient “X” because it is on trend or let’s make the world’s healthiest juice. I wanted to make great flavors that are well balanced, I just use the best ingredients I can so I know they are good for you.
One of the big themes of your mission statement seems to be that you're a company that focuses on the now – handling roadblocks with a positive mindset and not losing steam. I'm sure that running a small business comes with it's own set of roadblocks. What has been the biggest challenge in running your own business and how'd you handle it?
"Nothing is impossible" and "we could make that” are two phrases that my mom and I say pretty constantly (she is my operations director for Gundalow) because there is always some sort of solution. Sometimes the solution is to take a step back and ask my gut “is this the best decision?” I try not look at what other juice companies are doing (often easier said than done) because I’m not trying to replicate what they are doing, I want to stay true to Gundalow. I always work towards goals and I have vision of what I want us to become day after day, but I also need to focus on the now. I don’t want to bypass what is going on right now in my business because I am learning so much every day, we don’t give what we are doing right now enough credit- right now everyone is creating another part of their stamp on the world, that’s something that should be celebrated.
Luckily, I am surrounded by the most inspiring individuals who make me better every single day. I love my team (past and present), my mentors, Startup Soiree and lady boss community. I am really so lucky to have so many great people in my now and hopefully they stay there for many more nows to come.
Finally – I think some people might still be a little scared of kale juice. Any words of advice for someone who is just trying out green juices?
If you are trying out a green juice try our Mainstay Green, its job is to be your gateway juice and trust that something bright green tastes totally amazing! It’s been the green for both the people who like green juice and those that don’t. We try to make S.S.Veggie the most approachable salad in a bottle but kale is going to taste like kale, as it should. We are always happy to sample it for people and convert more green juice drinkers. If you don’t like it, no problem- you won’t hurt my feelings, each person likes different things which is exactly why we make 7 different juices.