Ashley Cameron, a self-described “cookiepreneur,” said baking has always brought her joy.

Cameron, who is a registered nurse, previously worked at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston where she delivered babies. After having three children of her own in three years, Cameron decided to become a stay-at-home mom. In 2019, her oldest son developed Kawasaki disease, a rare, potentially deadly disease that causes the immune system to attack blood vessels.

“Once he came home from the hospital, I would have taken him to Disney World that same day had he asked me,” Cameron said. “Instead he said, ‘I want to bake cookies with mommy.’”

From there, Cameron started baking at home with her family and opened her own retail location under the name Love & Cookies in October 2021.

Cameron’s success with her business, including a nearly 80% retention rate of customers, earned her a top spot in the H-E-B Quest for Texas Best small-business competition.

Love & Cookies then won first place Aug. 24 in Dallas and received $20,000, becoming the first Central Texas business to win the Quest for Texas Best competition.

“We believe in our son, and our story and our product, so to have a company like H-E-B believe in us as well is just unbelievable,” Cameron said.

All of the store’s gourmet cookies are named after her children, or close friends and family who supported her while her son Charlie Cash was in the hospital. Named after her son, one of the community favorites is a large chocolate chip cookie with a Hershey’s chocolate bar in the center.

Cameron said she developed the idea of frozen cookie dough because people were asking for it. Starting in March, the product will be sold in H-E-B stores in the following flavors: M&M, triple chocolate, chocolate chip and gluten-free chocolate chip.