tastes like freedom
Gay, immigrant-owned Austin cookie company launches foundation and bake sale for "Safe Spaces"
Wunderkeks, the Austin cookie company known as much for its delicious cookies as for its social conscience, has been deep in the work of creating "Safe Spaces" for the past few years — but with so many possible intersections, it's hard to pin down just what those metaphorical safe spaces are. And now the company needs one of its own.
As part of identifying real Safe Spaces and helping them grow, Wunderkeks is turning that brand identity into a nonprofit called the Sunday Afternoon Foundation. It's launching with the obvious — and most wholesome — Fundraising 101 event: a bake sale.
It's an online "bake sale," anyway, on the Wunderkeks website on July 11. All proceeds on Tuesday will go straight to the foundation, so any regular purchase is essentially a donation. And don't worry about how fast you can get through your haul: The cookies come individually wrapped inside the box and last a few weeks in the pantry, or essentially as long as you need them in the freezer. They are made to be reheated, either way.
These cookies, which are only available via e-commerce, come with joyful packaging, an earnest card from the founders, and a sometimes-unspoken guarantee that the person receiving them is being offered a safe space. The gay- and immigrant-owned company can serve as a beacon to queer or questioning people, or it can just represent what a box of cookies usually does: the desire to make someone feel cared for and happy.
The nonprofit is drawing more definitive lines around these safe spaces through the foundation, which will support research as well as community, media, and purposeful commerce development. Of course, Schrei and Gramajo discuss safe spaces for LGBTQ+ and immigrant communities most often through their own experiences, but the concept of safe spaces is meant to expand wherever it is needed.
Even though this idea is years in the making, Schrei and Gramajo are fast-tracking the launch, and it has everything to do with why they started thinking about safe spaces in the first place.
"A while ago, a potential investor in our company sat us down and told us to 'be less gay,' to stop sharing our story, [and] to disappear behind the cookies we baked," wrote the couple in a release. "We absolutely refused to go back into the closet, and with all that was on the table, gathering the strength to do that became our proudest moment. Being a gay, married, couple running a very queer business in America in 2023? Not so much fun!"
One investor, one would think, could not make or break a company, but it did highlight to the founders that things still aren't easy just because they're living the "American Dream." As non-U.S. citizens, Schrei and Gramajo have never been prone to waiting around for things to change on their own. And the legal system, they fear, is still not on their side.
"From the outside, if you see us, we are all about joy: Cookies! Confetti! Dinosaurs in tutus! Disco balls!" Schrei and Gramajo shared via release. "Today, we’re honestly terrified, not only because of that monstrous double feature the Supreme Court just treated us to [striking down affirmative action and allowing a web designer to turn down a job from gay clients], but because we never imagined that, once in the U.S., fighting for the right to share the joy of being ourselves would still be so hard."
In this nonprofit, because so much hinges on getting stories out into the world for communities to strengthen around, one of the main audiences is other brands. Wunderkeks has found much of its early success through collaborations, such as a recipe developed with actress Busy Philipps and a close relationship with the Loveloud Foundation and its founder, Imagine Dragons' Dan Reynolds.
The Sunday Afternoon Foundation gives the cookie company another platform to connect with other brands and leverage their social work through other media: news publications, TV shows, and even music festivals. It also examines similar connections from an academic standpoint, analyzing what role companies, celebrities, and those media entities themselves fulfill "in shaping inclusive environments."
One early supporter is Logictry, a software development company "dedicated to promoting better logic and peaceful decision-making," according to the release. The company will match up to $15,000 for technology and impact support, while helping to gather data and share the mission through World Logic Day, an annual project with UNESCO that bestowed Wunderkeks an award at the 2023 showcase at Austin's Long Center.
The Sunday Afternoon Foundation hopes to raise $100,000 through the bake sale. It is also looking for "highly visible individuals, media outlets, and organizations" to partner with in getting the word out or even matching donations. "Every single cookie we sell, every Tweet, every TikTok, every friend you forward this to, helps!"
Schrei and Gramajo close with a rallying cry: "Help us make so much noise they all get the message: Not only that the Queer Community is never going back into the closet, but that our allies will never let that happen!"
All purchases made at wunderkeks.com — the only place to buy Wunderkeks — on Tuesday, July 11, will become seed capital for the Sunday Afternoon Foundation.