Guatemalan Entrepreneurs Are Homosexual, Married, Profitable

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It appears 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, attaining success.

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

I not too long ago spoke with them. Our dialog addressed far more than promoting cookies.

All the audio of that interview is embedded beneath. The transcript is edited for readability and condensed.

Eric Bandholz: Inform us about Wunderkeks.

Hans Schrei: In December 2011 I used to be residing in my residence nation of Guatemala. I had 30 days of day without work from my job, so I made a decision to bake one sort of cookie from my mother’s kitchen for daily of Creation. By day 18, I had a thousand cookies. These turned my Christmas items that 12 months. Then of us started telling me, “It is best to promote these.”

That was the beginning of Wunderkeks. The title 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 inventive outlet and a option to specific myself, which I couldn’t do as a result of being homosexual in Guatemala just isn’t very best. 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 superb alternative to speak to individuals. Folks can really feel your ardour when speaking about your model, offering credibility.

My relationship with Luis developed. 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 all over the 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 all the things in Guatemala, loaded up our canines 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 properly collectively as a result of we’re the other in our qualities. I’m a individuals one who loves making connections and promoting. Hans loves numbers. While you combine these two, you begin trusting one another. The secret is figuring out your limitations and strengths.

Bandholz: Your cookies had been a giant 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 find out how to meet our gross sales targets and find out how 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 in regards to the product, its profit, and what it is going to 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 would have liked the earnings, however it was additionally a chance to speak to individuals one-on-one. That’s very simple to go away behind as you develop, however it has been a important a part of our branding.

Our large break got here in March 2020. We had baked 25,000 cookies to arrange for the South-by-Southwest pageant. But it surely bought canceled because of 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 compelled us to emphasise on-line gross sales. So the long-term impact was optimistic. We now 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 complicated and archaic. The U.S. has restricted views of who can completely dwell right here. In our case, the one motive that we may 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 international locations, primarily in Europe, have that association with the U.S. And that visa requires an undefined “vital funding.” It’s a gentle quantity. We invested $100,000.

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

Schrei: Proper. However generally, the system could be very archaic. If we didn’t have my Austrian passport, our visa software would have seemingly been rejected. Plus, Luis and I had been married, which helped along with his scenario.

Gramajo: All of it occurred rapidly in 2018. We did that street 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 show 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 12 months.

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

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

Gramajo: Our mission goes past enterprise. We need to construct secure areas for everybody — homosexual, straight, minority, white. Wunderkeks was within the closet in Guatemala. Once we got here right here, all the things occurred organically. The model developed with out us even noticing. A 12 months and a half after shifting to the U.S., we realized our model is queer.

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

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

Bandholz: How can listeners join with you?

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

Gramajo: I’m on LinkedIn, too.



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