Ashley Cameron found the right combination of love and sweetness to create a burgeoning cookie empire.
By Ashley Cameron. Photo courtesy of Ashley Cameron.
Being an entrepreneur—or “Cookiepreneur,” as I like to say—is in my blood. I come from a long line of family-owned businesses deeply rooted in hard work, problem-solving and staying true to your values. You would think this would be a natural trajectory for me post-college, but I was determined to forge my own path. I chose a career as a nurse.
After graduating from Texas Christian University, I began a career at Texas Children’s Hospital, delivering babies in their labor and delivery unit. I loved every second of my job. I learned so much about myself and the world around me. I am eternally grateful for all my experiences and the new life I witnessed.
But the time came for me to take a break, as my college sweetheart and I decided to have our own family, and I earned the new title of Mom. In three years, I was mom to not just one but three beautiful, magical creatures. As all parents know, this is such a wonderful, exciting and exhausting time in your life.
In October 2019, our world stopped when at age 5, our oldest son, Charlie, was diagnosed with Kawasaki disease (KD). Who knows what Kawasaki disease is? You would think that I would, being a nurse, but I didn’t, not really. KD is an acquired heart condition that affects young children. If untreated, it can cause inflammation in the heart’s coronary arteries.
After a whirlwind of doctor appointments and hospital stays, we finally brought Charlie home. I would have taken him to Disney World on the same day had he asked because that sweet boy deserved all the magic and happiness for what he went through, but his request was simple: “I want to bake cookies with you, Mommy.” This small wish became our therapeutic refuge, and our days were filled with the delightful aroma of freshly baked treats. Soon, we began sharing our creations with friends and family.
Before I knew it, our baking sessions became a full-blown home bakery operation. What I thought was the start of a new passion project quickly became something more than I could ever imagine. I wanted to share Charlie’s story with the world to help raise awareness about this awful disease, but in a way that brought the love, joy, happiness and quality time we shared together into other people’s homes. Love&Cookies was born.
Love&Cookies began from my unwavering belief that I had something unique—a delectable product, an eager market and a vision beyond a home bakery. What kick-started a healing experiment with my son morphed into something extraordinary. In October 2021, the Love&Cookies storefront opened in Lakeway, Texas.
We offer a range of fresh gourmet cookies, brownies, cookie cakes and mouthwatering cinnamon rolls, quickly establishing our bakery as a loved fixture in the Lakeway community. But we wanted to take it a step further and bring Love&Cookies home, so I introduced our line of frozen gourmet cookie dough, delivering a warm homemade cookie experience without the fuss or artificial ingredients.
Our cookie chronicle doesn’t stop there. Six months after opening our storefront, I decided to take a leap of faith to enter H-E-B’s Quest For Texas Best competition. To my astonishment, I emerged as one of the top ten finalists out of over 500 entries. I went on to clinch the first-place title, winning $20,000 and a spot on H-E-B’s shelves. Love&Cookies frozen gourmet cookie dough is now available in more than 250 H-E-B locations across Texas.
You might be asking yourself, “How on earth is a small 1,000-square-foot bakery able to support supplying all those H-E-Bs?” Great question. This is the part where the hard work and problem-solving come in. I decided to build my own manufacturing facility because, naturally, that’s the easy thing to do. I got to work. I learned everything I needed to know about manufacturing: food safety, the right equipment, shipping, logistics, packaging, staffing—the list goes on, but we built it!
Winning the H-E-B competition changed my life and my family’s life. We are proud to be an H-E-B partner. When you fill your cart with Love&Cookies, you can read Charlie’s story on the back of every package of frozen dough sold in retail. We are achieving our mission and saving hearts one cookie at a time.
Our Austin community has been amazing. They have cheered us on at all our major milestones and kept us going when things got (and will continue to be) challenging. I am so blessed to be surrounded by a network of intelligent, capable, strong women who continue to support and guide me as I navigate the sweet journey of Love&Cookies.
For those of you thinking about starting a business or already have, keep going. You can do it! Surround yourself with people who see your vision and can help make that dream or passion project a reality. Take care of your people. You get out what you put in. No matter what journey you may take—sweet, sour and everything in between—life is what you bake it.
Learn more about KD at kawasakikidsfoundation.org.