Owners Dan and Diana Saklad were honored at an award ceremony recently in Chicago at the 2016 International Home and Housewares Show, where more than 60,000 industry and kitchenware specialists from around the world gathered. They joined recipients from 23 other countries who demonstrated excellence in areas such as customer service, store displays, and company vision, and are profiled in the February/March issue of The Gourmet Retailer.
By Anna Wolfe
Editor, The Gourmet Retailer magazine
In less than two-and-a-half years, Dan and Diana Saklad have created Whisk, a thriving kitchenware and cooking school in the Research Triangle Park area of North Carolina. For its achievements to date, Whisk received The Gourmet Retailer's Kitchenware Retailer of the Year award as well as the International Housewares Association's U.S. gia award for independent kitchenware retailers.
Before opening the kitchenware store, Dan worked in brand marketing and advertising for major consumer packaged goods companies. He also worked with Paco Underhill, author of the notable retail books, "Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping" and "What Women Want." Meanwhile, Diana had grown up with "a foot in retail," explains Dan; her parents had operated an art gallery.
When they were university students in Minneapolis, the couple often browsed the kitchenware store Kitchen Window, the 2001-2002 gia recipient, for fun, admits Diana.
"Food was always way the way we decompressed," adds Dan. "We always cooked."
Fast forward to September 2013, when the duo decided to pursue their passion for cooking and opened a gourmet retail store and cooking school of their own. "People thought we were nuts," says Dan, who admits he had zero retail experience but "had the passion behind it.
"We decided to give it a shot. So many people were saying we were going to fail," he explains. "That made us stronger." The naysayers steeled their resolve to succeed, and they needed that determination to overcome a series of obstacles.