LGBTQ-owned cookie company, Wunderkeks, has exploded in popularity thanks to their delicious cookies and celebrity following.
Hans and Luis have had a thrilling couple of years. The couple, originally from Guatemala, ended up settling down in Austin, Texas and opened their baking company, Wunderkeks, which specializes in cookies and has become known for its stunning and elaborate packaging. 2020 proved to be the worst – and unexpectedly the best – year for the duo, providing them with unthinkable challenges and remarkable rewards. Passport had the chance to sit down with this dynamic duo to chat about their lives, their company, and their upcoming involvement in Hollywood’s biggest night, the Oscars.
So, you’re both originally from Guatemala. How did you end up in Austin?
Hans: I started baking in my mom’s kitchen about a decade ago. Then, a few years ago, I had to take almost a month of vacation days, otherwise, I ran the risk of losing them all. With all that free time I decided I’d just bake a bunch of cookies for everyone. I ended up with 1,000 cookies I needed to give away. My family told me I should sell them, and before you know it…It was a company!
Eventually, I met Luis and we fell in love. He helped me grow the company, and we continued to become closer and closer until eventually, we decided we wanted to get married. In 2018, we took a vacation to California. And it was crazy because, when we were there, we saw lots of gay couples, and even gay couples with kids! We had never seen that before…aside from on TV.
Luis: To give you an idea of what it’s like in Guatemala for the LGBTQ community, just last Friday the nation outlawed gay marriage and demanded that schools teach that heterosexuality is the only “normal” way to live.
Hans: We decided we needed to move to America. Austin, Texas seemed relatively close to home, was a good place for somewhat affordable rent, seemed to have lots of life, and just felt like a good city in general. So, we chose to move to Austin, and it’s been great!
Living in Austin is what set you guys up to bake for South by Southwest (SXSW), the massive entertainment and cultural festival that’s held yearly in the city. You were chosen to bake cookies for the festival in March of 2020…which ended up almost destroying your company. After SXSW was canceled, you were left with 25,000 cookies and a massive loss of income. But from my understanding, something amazing came from that experience?
Luis: Yeah, our company’s original goal was retail. We were planning on selling our cookies within grocery stores. To help build publicity, we decided to have a pop-up store at the 2020 SXSW festival. Then, just a few days before the event, we got the notification that SXSW was canceled and that the whole country was about to shutdown.
Fortunately, our background is in marketing, so we had an idea to sell the cookies online and hopefully gain a little income and recoup our losses. We had a super basic website because online sales weren’t what we were focusing on. We thought of a funny idea to post images of the screw emoji on social media to basically say “we got screwed” and then we shared our story about all the leftover cookies.
Locally, it seemed to catch on pretty quick. We started getting some sales for our cookies, which was so helpful. Then, somehow, actress Busy Phillips saw our tweet and then retweeted it at almost midnight. Two hours later, in the middle of the night, we suddenly had 700 orders!
Hi! This small business thought they were making 25K cookies for SXSW. Then SXSW was cancelled and they have 25 thousand cookies to unload! Let's all buy some! Because WHO DOESN'T LIKE COOKIES?!? @chrissyteigen @yashar @Caissie @chefjoseandres @MarkDuplass https://t.co/ze7eIEDWie
— Busy Philipps (@BusyPhilipps) March 9, 2020
We had to immediately build a better website that could handle all the increased traffic. In a few days, The Wall Street Journal contacted us, followed by Vanity Fair, Vogue, CBS, and more. We had suddenly gone viral…all thanks to Busy Phillips! In three weeks, we had sold 35,000 cookies.
Did you ever get a chance to chat with Busy Phillips and thank her for spreading the word?
Luis: We did! We got to chat for a bit on Instagram. She even posted a video of her eating our cookies, which was super cool and nice. We ended up sending her a gift basket of stuff from Guatemala as a way to thank her. But I still don’t know if she’s aware of how important of a role she played in basically saving Wunderkeks!
And it seems like the success has just kept pouring in ever since?
Hans: Yes, fortunately, the success just hasn’t stopped. We continue to be amazed at how fortunate we are. During the summer we did a partnership with LoveLoud, which is an LGBTQ nonprofit created by Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons. It all happened because he ordered our cookies and then loved them. Once he found out the company was gay-owned, he said he wanted us to get involved with LoveLoud! It’s been such a crazy experience ever since 2020.
And now Wunderkeks is headed to the Oscars. Tell me all about how this opportunity came to be!
Hans: Yeah, a local journalist asked to come by and check out our kitchen just to see what it was like, and she ended up staying for two hours! We got into a giant conversation and had a wonderful time. Later that night, we get a text from her and she says that she knows Lash Fary – the guy who puts together the Oscars gift bags!
She said that she told him all about us and our story and that he was dying to work with us. I emailed Lash, and he said he already had cookies for the bag but was wondering if we could do some other kind of baked good.
We decided to do our famous brownie recipe, which is super fudgy and everyone loves them, so we thought they’d be perfect. And being the Oscars, we knew we had to dress for the occasion, so we decided to coat the tops of the brownies in gold leaf, making them look absolutely stunning!
And how about after the Oscars? Your brand has almost become synonymous with celebrities at this point, with so many high-profile names falling in love with your outlandish boxes and delicious baked goods. What’s next for you guys?
Well, we do have a really exciting collaboration coming up…but we can’t talk about it just yet. I think the official info gets released the first week of April. But, it’s very cool and it does involve another celebrity! I really wish I could say more, but if you’re eager to find out, follow our Instagram within the next few weeks because we will be sharing all the info!
For more information or to buy your own cookies, visit their website.
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