Guatemalan Entrepreneurs Are Homosexual, Married, Profitable

Guatemalan Entrepreneurs Are Homosexual, Married, Profitable

It seems like a film script. A homosexual entrepreneur in Guatemala launches a cookie firm in 2012 from his mother’s kitchen. He meets one other Guatemalan entrepreneur, additionally homosexual, who joins the enterprise. They get married, immigrate in 2019 to the U.S., and, overcoming a slew of obstacles, relaunch the corporate from their base in Austin, Texas, reaching success.

The corporate is known as Wunderkeks. The entrepreneurs are founder Hans Schrei and his co-owner husband, Luis Gramajo.

I lately spoke with them. Our dialog addressed far more than promoting cookies.

The complete audio of that interview is embedded under. The transcript is edited for readability and condensed.

Eric Bandholz: Inform us about Wunderkeks.

Hans Schrei: In December 2011 I used to be dwelling in my dwelling nation of Guatemala. I had 30 days of day off from my job, so I made a decision to bake one sort of cookie from my mother’s kitchen for on daily basis of Introduction. By day 18, I had a thousand cookies. These turned my Christmas presents that yr. Then of us started telling me, “You need to promote these.”

That was the beginning of Wunderkeks. The identify means “surprise cookies” in German. It took some time to achieve success, and it was lots for me to deal with. A number of years later I met Luis. His background was in advertising and marketing. I used to be about to throw within the towel, however he got here in and helped. Over time, we bought our cookie dough in Costco and Walmart in Latin America.

Beginning Wunderkeks was my artistic outlet and a approach to categorical myself, which I couldn’t do as a result of being homosexual in Guatemala is just not perfect. I constructed a pink field and bought behind the counter, promoting my cookies at our bodily retailer. It turned therapeutic and a part of my identification. I’m not outgoing, however the enterprise was a wonderful alternative to speak to individuals. Folks can really feel your ardour when speaking about your model, offering credibility.

My relationship with Luis advanced. He too is homosexual. We turned engaged. However getting married in Guatemala was not going to occur. So we traveled to California. We drove alongside the coast from San Diego to San Francisco. We noticed queer {couples} with youngsters in every single place. That, for us, was very new and refreshing.

In order that’s why we determined to immigrate to the U.S. We selected Austin, Texas. We offered every little thing in Guatemala, loaded up our canine and two suitcases, and began doing farmers’ markets right here promoting our cookies.

Luis Gramajo: I’ve been good at promoting since I used to be a child. Hans loves analyzing and researching. We work effectively collectively as a result of we’re the alternative in our qualities. I’m a individuals one that loves making connections and promoting. Hans loves numbers. Whenever you combine these two, you begin trusting one another. The secret’s figuring out your limitations and strengths.

Bandholz: Your cookies had been an enormous success right here in Austin.

Gramajo: Sure. Our backgrounds are in retail. Hans used to work for Procter & Gamble. I labored for Beiersdorf, the skincare firm. We had been model managers for these companies in Latin America. We knew the way to meet our gross sales targets and the way to discover a chance.

Schrei: Many individuals don’t perceive {that a} new product wants pushing. Typically the expectation is, “I’ll have my product on the cabinets, and everyone seems to be gonna be excited to purchase it.” That doesn’t occur. Regardless of how good your show is, it’s about selling and speaking concerning the product, its profit, and what it can do for individuals. That’s why we began at a farmer’s market as a result of we had simply moved to the U.S. It was our enterprise, and we wanted the earnings, but it surely was additionally a chance to speak to individuals one-on-one. That’s very straightforward to depart behind as you develop, but it surely has been a crucial a part of our branding.

Our massive break got here in March 2020. We had baked 25,000 cookies to organize for the South-by-Southwest pageant. However it bought canceled attributable to Covid. So there we had been, caught with a ton of cookies. Fortunately the actress Busy Phillips heard about our scenario and tweeted about it to her 2.2 million Twitter followers. In a single day we acquired lots of of orders.

Covid pressured us to emphasise on-line gross sales. So the long-term impact was optimistic. Now we have a Shopify retailer and ship our cookies worldwide from our bakery right here in Austin.

Bandholz: You immigrated to the U.S. and opened a enterprise. What’s the course of?

Schrei: It’s troublesome as a result of the immigration system is advanced and archaic. The U.S. has restricted views of who can completely dwell right here. In our case, the one purpose that we might come was as a result of I’ve an Austrian passport. That’s an extended story. However I’ve an Austrian passport, which allowed me to request an entrepreneur visa. Solely about 35 nations, primarily in Europe, have that association with the U.S. And that visa requires an undefined “important funding.” It’s a comfortable quantity. We invested $100,000.

Gramajo: It helped that we had a superb relationship with the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala. Plus our enterprise had a wonderful status there.

Schrei: Proper. However usually, the system may be very archaic. If we didn’t have my Austrian passport, our visa utility would have possible been rejected. Plus, Luis and I had been married, which helped together with his scenario.

Gramajo: All of it occurred rapidly in 2018. We did that highway journey in California in April and had a number of further U.S. visits later. Then we utilized for the visa in Guatemala in July and acquired approval in September. And in January 2019 we moved to Austin.

Schrei: We bought married in Austin that earlier July 2018. To obtain the visa, it was simpler to be married earlier than making use of than afterward.

Gramajo: Hans loves studying and doing analysis. He put collectively lots of of pages we needed to current to the U.S. Embassy.

Schrei: There have been so many particulars. We needed to display our firm was arrange and that the $100,000 was in danger. Getting established within the U.S. — banks, taxes, rules — is far simpler with a social safety quantity. Fortunately Luis had one from working in New York for a yr.

It’s all doable however, once more, very advanced.

Bandholz: A homosexual, married couple from Guatemala immigrated to the U.S., opened a enterprise, employed staff, and located success. What a narrative.

Gramajo: Our mission goes past enterprise. We wish to construct secure areas for everybody — homosexual, straight, minority, white. Wunderkeks was within the closet in Guatemala. After we got here right here, every little thing occurred organically. The model advanced with out us even noticing. A yr and a half after shifting to the U.S., we realized our model is queer.

In order that has develop into our mission — making the world a greater place by means of cultural change, having conversations, and offering a secure house for everyone.

We wish to develop the corporate, too. We’ve simply launched a crowdfunding increase on Republic.

Bandholz: How can listeners join with you?

Schrei: Our web site is The enterprise is on Twitter, Fb, and Instagram. I’m on LinkedIn.

Gramajo: I’m on LinkedIn, too.

Supply hyperlink


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