Everyday Icons: The Baker

Fighting a sugar craving? Read our inspired interview with Milk Jar Cookies founder Courtney Cowan - from doubt to success and a killer chocolate chip recipe.

Image Credit: Ashley Maxwell

Courtney Cowan left her job as a TV Post Producer to pursue a lifelong dream of opening a farmhouse cookie shop in the bustling city of Los Angeles. Featuring 14 flavors of her original recipes, she runs the shop with her husband Adam and the love, support and encouragement from her cookie fans far and wide. Read her inspired story as she shares her moments of success, doubt and the simple pleasures of an everyday chocolate chip cookie:

You left your job as a Post Producer to pursue your dream of opening a cookie shop - amazing! Such a great success story. Were there moments of doubt along the way? How did you push through?

Thank you! There were definitely moments of doubt and fear along the way. I began laying the groundwork for this in 2005 when I started an online cookie company. I ran it on the side while I worked full time with the hope of eventually going brick and mortar. There were several times, over many years, when I told myself it was cookie time, but then I would get scared or land on another TV show, so I would put the cookies on the back burner again. But, with each passing year, I did more research and gained more confidence, so when I decided last summer that it was time to go for it, it finally felt right. Don’t get me wrong, I still had doubt from time to time and was definitely scared, but I just stayed focused and believed in what I was doing.

And now, your husband works with you at the shop! What's that balance like for your relationship? Do you find it difficult to turn off the "business partner" mode?

It’s really wonderful to be able to share all of this with him – it makes it all the more special. As for balance, we’re still working on that. Ha! It’s been hard to turn off that “business partner” mode because we are still at the point where we eat, sleep and breathe the shop. But, we do try and find the time to just be humans. We have tried to make it a point to go on a date on Monday nights, but I have to say, we are guilty of still talking shop a lot of the time. While it’s not ideal on one hand, we keep reminding ourselves that it’s because the business is growing, and for that, we are very grateful.

So, why cookies?

I've always loved baking, and specifically baking cookies. When we were kids, my sister and I would make chocolate chip cookies all the time (mainly to eat the dough, if I'm being honest), and when I was in my teens, I came up with my own recipe. As I perfected it over time, it became very popular with friends, family, and eventually co-workers. After several instances of people mistaking them for "bakery" cookies, I realized I might have created something special. So, I went to work on creating other flavors and loved it! It was so fun for me and a great creative outlet. I can make cakes and bars, but there isn’t anything really special about them. So, I decided to focus on coming up with as many varieties of cookies as possible.

Clementine Daily is a space for women who believe in embracing simple pleasures, setting realistic expectations and bettering their lives to better the lives around them. In your eyes, how do you fit in with that mission?

I absolutely love your philosophy and would like to think it fits me nicely. Embracing simple pleasures is one of my favorite things to do. My most treasured memories are almost all “little” moments and ones that were spent doing ordinary things with special people. A major reason I wanted to have a shop and not just a delivery cookie business was that I wanted to encourage others to enjoy the simple pleasure of a cookie. It was important to me to provide a cozy, welcoming environment that made people want to stay a while and enjoy their treat. Life can be so crazy and intense, and I like to think that a little respite with cookies & milk is good for everyone’s soul.

What's the most important life lesson you've learned from launching Milk Jar Cookies?

Follow your heart and trust your gut. Neither will lead you astray.

I've often heard it's difficult for entrepreneurs and small business owners to stop and celebrate their successes. Do you make an effort to do this? How?

It is! And, at first, I didn’t realize that I needed to. I think when you are trying to get something off the ground, it’s very common to constantly be in “go” mode, running full steam ahead. My parents and Adam have been very good at reminding me to take a step back every now and then to take it all in. In some ways, owning this little shop is still a little surreal, but I think that’s kind of beautiful and hope I don’t lose that feeling.

Any advice for fellow baking entrepreneurs?

Do your research and never be afraid to ask questions. If you want it, make it happen. Give it everything you have, stay true to yourself, and learn from your mistakes. You will work harder than you ever have in your life, and it won’t be easy, but it will definitely be worth it!

What are five everyday items you can't live without?

Oscar Blandi Dry Shampoo (seriously, changed my life), Blistex DCT lip balm, Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer, lists and our Australian Shepherd, Ollie (not an object, but he’s such a love!).

You can indulge in just one cookie for the rest of your life. What do you choose?

Oh man, that’s like asking me which child I would choose…! I think I would have to go classic Chocolate Chip.

What's your personal motto/mantra?

Make it happen.

p.s. Want more inspired interviews from our Everyday Icons? Read here!