2 fun dudes, 2 chewy cookies, 1 cup of love

Chewk’s Cookies co-founders Hunter Breshears (left) and Michael Blum feature their bestselling red velvet and chocolate chunk cookies.

Chewk's is a winning recipe for student-run business

Photos by Ralph Freso

The 13-foot 1972 Shasta camper is stark white and unadorned, and they’re thinking of keeping it that way, free of stickers and loud pronouncements.

“Calm,” Mike Blum says.         

“Humble,” adds Hunter Breshears.

When the camper pulls up for student markets at Grand Canyon University, customers apparently don’t need bright lights; students line up deep for the Chewk’s Cookies guys.

Chewk’s?

“Sounds like chewing,” said Breshears, partners with Blum in the fledgling business.

Two college dudes might be tempted to say that these aren’t your grandmother's cookies, except that’s what they are selling — the serenity and love of a grandma visit — with a chewy chocolate chunk or red velvet, their two bestsellers.

A student is plumb happy with her Chewk’s Cookies after waiting in line during the student market at Prescott Field in November.

Breshears, a GCU entrepreneurial studies major, had a lightbulb moment when he was a senior in high school and came across a cookie place geared to people looking for a late-night treat. Then while taking a gap year working at a Bible camp in Missouri, the light bulb went on again — this time in an oven.

“Lady named Cassie taught me how to bake,” he said. “I didn’t know how to make cookies that tasted chewy. My experience was I had a cookie that was hard on the outside, like store-bought. But she taught me the temperature and butter to use, basically taught me the chemistry of making a cookie.”

The idea was shelved during his first couple of years at GCU while studying and working another job.

“It came to the point I thought, ‘Let’s go for it,’” said the junior. “I took all my money, sold my car, took out a couple loans ...”

And sold 150 cookies more than a year ago at a pop-up event. But the business was solidified when he ran into Blum, who had his own vintage clothing company, and told him he needed a partner.

“The business model turned into more about creating special moments for people with cookies,” Breshears said.

The special moment for the pair was last year, when they sold 300 cookies at a student market.

This could work.

They secured an office space in Canyon Ventures in Building 66 and could park a refurbished camper outside that they bought for mobile selling.

They started baking.

“Our closets are full of flour,” Breshears said.

Earlier this fall, the line at the student market was long and enthusiastic as students approached the white camper with a surfboard slung from it. They sold 500 cookies.

“Michael is the face of the brands. Super silly, the character,” Breshears said.

“Whatever,” Blum said.

“No, he’s one of a kind. You’ve never met a guy like Michael. So bubbly and honestly crazy.”

GCU students really started to take notice during a student market last March.

Blum also could be called the soul of Chewk’s. The psychology major truly believes that a cookie is an experience, a cookie can make your life better, and it’s all in who you share it with.

“It’s the way we interact with our customers and love on them, as well as create an experience when they purchase it,” he said. “We’ve gone from being a transaction-based company to more spending time listening to them as they come up to get cookies.”

Chewk’s rented a location in a commercial kitchen to produce their cookies and began to cater events, such as birthday parties, weddings or church socials, in addition to occasional campus events.

“Even though a cookie might only take a second, we want more than a few seconds from each person, to allow them a place to slow down from the busyness and the hurry of their day, which in turn creates home. Home is where you go rest and slow down,” Breshears said.

As they await city licensure, the partners are looking to secure an agreement with campus officials for a quiet location on campus to put up tables, a place where students can truly take a break and interact.

They’ve watched people meet new friends over a cookie and heard of the feelings they can evoke. One student told them that she bought them for her grandmother in the hospital, and it made her day.

“Relationships are important to us, and we value them,” Blum said. “We believe that our fellowship with others is one of the things that give us life, so we attempt to create a space for others to share in fellowship. Chewk’s wants to bring people out, to slow down and stay awhile, take a break and breathe, to sit down with someone else and be present, rather than be hidden away and isolated.”

He said the common ground is the cookie, and at two for $5, it’s for sharing.

“Something as simple as a cookie wasn’t meant to be consumed alone,” he said, “just as life itself wasn’t meant to be lived alone.”

Grand Canyon University senior writer Mike Kilen can be reached at [email protected] or at 602-639-6764.

On Instagram:

@chewkscookies

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Bible Verse

Be not afraid, O land (of Judah); be glad and rejoice. Surely the Lord has done great things. (Joel 2:21)

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