In 2013, Courtney Cowan left her job in television to open a cookie shop and elevate the classic experience by pairing homemade, gourmet cookies with locally-sourced milk, ice cream, and coffee–all served on vintage china in a warm and cozy shop. Almost a decade later, Cowan has turned her lifelong love of baking into a cookie empire.
While working in television in Los Angeles, CA, Courtney Cowan often brought cookies for her coworkers. She’d been baking since childhood and spent years perfecting her own twist on the chocolate chip cookie. So it was natural for her to share the cookie love at work. After yet another person asked what bakery Cowan had bought the cookies from, Courtney realized her hobby could grow into something more–that idea would lead her to found Milk Jar Cookies
In 2005, Cowan started an online cookie company out of her coat closet, where she kept a fax machine for taking customer orders. For the next seven years, Cowan used the time when her shows were canceled or on hiatus to focus on her cookies. It was in 2012, while recovering from a surgery, that Cowan decided to write a business plan.
“The more I started thinking and writing, the more excited I got about having a storefront where I could really welcome people on a daily basis. When I was doing it on the side, I would deliver these cookies to people’s homes on my way to work. Their eyes would light up, and they’d get so excited. I found so much joy in that”.
She continues: “When I had the opportunity to be around people that were eating the cookies and saw the smiles that they produced, I just wanted to do that on a larger scale. My business plan was always to do a brick-and-mortar so that I could have that experience each day and get to know my customers. I wanted to be the neighborhood cookie shop for people to come to and have a respite from reality for a bit.”
Cowan opened her first storefront in Los Angeles in April of 2013. Milk Jar Cookies elevated the experience of eating the classic treat by serving 16 different flavors of warm cookies on vintage china. The cookies are paired with craft roasted coffee, fresh milk, and locally-produced ice cream. Milk Jar Cookies was an immediate success, seeing a consistent increase in sales year over year.
“When people get our cookies in their hands, we tend to get them as repeat customers,” Cowan explains, “They definitely enjoy our treats, and the way we package our cookies makes them really beautiful gifts.”
Cowan prioritizes the customer experience in every aspect of Milk Jar Cookies from the peaceful shop atmosphere to offering easy delivery and gifting options. That commitment to the customer eventually led her to Clover.
DIscussing her POS system, she says, “Originally we had this big, clunky, antiquated thing. I was looking for something where the user experience was nicer. I enjoyed the interface of Clover. It was easier for the employees to see everything. Clover also had very good customer service, which was important to me. I remember thinking, ‘Oh, I’m not going to have to figure this thing out on my own or be completely left out in the wind.’”
Clover’s system allowed Milk Jar Cookies to offer quicker and easier check-out processes and helped ease some of the more difficult tasks Cowan faces–especially the business’s robust delivery services.
“We take a lot of orders over the phone when people need same-day orders, and Clover allows us to process those efficiently.”
Having a delivery system already in place helped Milk Jar Cookies weather the challenges brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I’m very grateful that we already offered delivery and shipping and didn’t have to figure that out when COVID hit.”
Since then, “Corporate gifting is something that has continued to grow organically. Companies reach out and they know that they can trust us to represent them well because our product is such high quality–we’re all about the details. In late 2020, people and companies started using us to send their employees cookies. They started sending them as a pick me up, a thank you, or a hang-in-there gift.”
Now that Milk Jar Cookies has recovered from business impacts of the last few years, Cowan plans on expanding. In fact, she’s currently in the process of opening a new storefront in Encino, CA, which will also serve as the company’s shipping headquarters.
While she’s glad that her online business has grown so successfully, Cowan is looking forward to more in-person sales and seeing her customers enjoy the dine-in experience that she crafted for them at Milk Jar Cookies.
“We’re incredibly excited to bring people back in. We love doing what we do and making a person’s day a little brighter with some delicious cookies.”