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20-year-old starts first gluten-free and vegan eatery to Sioux Falls

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) – Sinless Sweets SF recently became the only place to eat in Sioux Falls that serves nothing but gluten-free and vegan food. And what’s even more amazing — and for some, unexpected — than the taste of the food itself, is the pioneer who finally brought it here.

“Being 20 years old and opening your own business, going from being like a poor college student to having my own store here is crazy,” said Maggy Pickner.

You read that right. Owner Maggy Pickner is 20.

She grew up in Chamberlain, SD, a town of 2,550. After graduating high school, she moved to Sioux Falls and enrolled in graphic design at Southeast Tech. One year later, she decided that wasn’t the path for her.

About the same time, she was diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome), a problem with hormones that happens during the reproductive years. Among the potential complications with the syndrome are Type 2 diabetes.

Pickner discovered she had an intolerance to gluten, a substance present in cereal grains, especially wheat, that is responsible for the elastic texture of dough. A mixture of two proteins, it causes illness in people with celiac disease, as well.

So, she decided to make health changes.

”I kind of switched to a gluten-free and dairy-free diet, and I’ve kind of been a baker my whole life, so I kind of switched all of my knowledge from regular baking over to stuff that I could enjoy,” Pickner said.

Stuff like homemade mixed berry pop tarts, cookie dough cake, monster cookies, Halloween cookies, and cinnamon rolls.

She and her sister experimented with desserts without milk or eggs at Pickner’s apartment.

A long-time restaurant server — starting at the resort in Chamberlain along the Missouri River, where her dad managed the marina and was a fishing guide — Pickner took the plunge at a baking side hustle last October, when she posted a vegan cake for sale on her Facebook page.

“It kind of blew up, and I had six orders immediately,” Pickner said. “And that was kind of when I knew that this was, like, a huge thing in Sioux Falls.”

She developed a website and took more orders. Eventually, things “blew up so big,” her apartment kitchen could not contain the number of orders coming in, so she began searching for a brick-and-mortar venue.

Then, on September 15, after a “roller coaster” ride of “bumps in the road” and all kinds of emotions, not even a year after that first cake went public, Sinless Sweets SF opened at 57th and Western — a prime location.

”We had kind of a line going out,” Pickner said. And ever since then, it’s just been a constant flow of people.”

This early success may come as a surprise to some. After all, this is South Dakota. Pickner is aware of the “gluten-free” and “vegan” stereotypes.

Vegan food excludes made from animal meat and any dairy. Gluten-free food mainly involves flour that is made from rice. The only difference from gluten-free and gluten-present food, Pickner said, is the texture.

“Most people can’t tell the difference,” Pickner said.

In fact, gluten-free can be to the advantage of raw cookie dough lovers. Without the use of eggs, the consumer is free from the risk of salmonella.

Asked what the most common misconception of gluten-free and vegan food — which excludes animals and contaminants that causes allergies or intolerance — Picker said:

“That it’s not good. Or that it’s like super just, like, off. But I think it’s good.”

And harsh critics, like her dad, a classic meat-and-potatoes Midwesterner, say they can’t tell the difference.

“Even people that aren’t gluten-free or vegan love it,” Pickner said.

While the new career has been all-consuming and “tiring” — “I only get five hours of sleep — Pickner said the benefit of being young and doing what she loves for a living fuels her 5 a.m. arrivals at the bakery/bistro.

But it’s the appreciation from people who needed and craved it the most — people like her who didn’t have a sit-down bakery or bistro that had an entire gluten-free and vegan menu — that make this a labor of love beyond food.

“I’ve had lots of people call me message me or come in here and just thank me for kind of taking a leap and bringing this to Sioux Falls,” Pickner said. “So, it is definitely needed.

”It’s super, like, fulfilling to know that what I was doing was actually helpful and I wasn’t just opening, like, another bakery.”

Sinless Sweets SF is open Monday thru Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and it isn’t limited to desserts.

From 3 p.m. on, Pickner offers “hearty” hot meals for a late lunch or early supper, like lasagna, pasta alfredo, and sweet potato gnocchi.

“When you’re a vegan, most of your options are, like, here’s some veggies, and here is some rice,” Pickner said. “I wanted to change that.”

For now, Pickner is on her own, doing all of the baking and serving. But she hopes to hire a staff soon, and already has people lining up who want to host host private birthday, anniversary, graduation, and wedding parties.

She eventually wants to teach baking classes, because making a homemade pop tart, or vanilla cookie dough cake is almost as fun as eating it.

Emphasis on “almost.”


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