From the MMRA Newsletter, March 15, 2015:
Miracle Mile Spotlight:
Milk Jar Cookies
It’s not just the assortment of delicious cookies and the playful rustic touches of the décor that make you feel like you’re back home again in Indiana when you visit Milk Jar Cookies, it’s the personality of its ex-Hoosier proprietor, Courtney Cowan [photo below].
Courtney grew up in Indianapolis and she has the Midwestern knack for friendliness and hard work. She came to California pursuing a career in television post-production, but her real passion began long before she left Indiana.
Opening her own cookie shop became Courtney’s long held “official dream,” as she describes it – one that became a reality in April 2013 when she opened Milk Jar Cookies. “It was a big leap of faith,” she explains. “I was nervous, but I have the mindset with any goal I have to just put my blinders on and go for it.”
Fortunately, Courtney had previous managerial experience she could utilize running her own business and handling employees. Her Midwestern values came into play, too. “I know I have people counting on me and I have a really amazing group working for us. I found good, solid, and intelligent people. It’s very family-like here. Aside from the quality of our cookies, the customer experience is very important.”
There is nothing corporate or cookie cutter (pun intended) about the shop. “Everything is homemade, from scratch, fresh every day, all day long. I also want the employees to really interact with the customers and not sound like robots.”
The Miracle Mile was a natural place for Courtney to realize her dream. She and her television editor husband have lived in the neighborhood for four years. They found the shop’s location, stripped it bare, and – working very long days – built it from the floor up. “It was so much fun and so stressful at the same time,” she remarks. “But my husband believes in me and in my cookies. I couldn’t have done it without him.”
The only real obstacle to operating a small business in the Miracle Mile is parking – or the lack thereof – says Courtney. The construction of the Wilshire Bus Rapid Transit lane was maddening she explained because the contractors give little to no notice. “We would just show up in the morning and find the street torn up into pieces. It wasn’t very good on the City’s part, it was very disrespectful of the business owners along Wilshire. But, we handled it with creativity, advertising a back-alley pick-up option and brought customers’ cookies out to them.”
Though she is excited about public transportation and the growth of the neighborhood, she worries that parking will become even more difficult once major subway construction begins. The situation is worsened by the large infill apartment project under construction in the former parking lot behind the Desmond’s Building, with a similar project to begin soon behind the Dominguez-Wilshire Building. These projects have left employees and customers of these buildings scrambling for on-street parking spots. “My customers often do complain about parking,” Courtney says.
But the many advantages of being located in the Miracle Mile far outweigh the challenges she remarked, especially the relationships she’s developed with other independent business owners like Christine Johnson, owner of Miracle Mile Toys & Games, and Rebecca and Sandy Clark, owners of Rascal. “They’re such great people, I’ve really enjoyed getting to know them,” Courtney states. “Everyone looks out for each other.”
Milk Jar Cookies has a thriving online ordering business, including their “Cookie of the Month Club,” which they launched a year ago. “Online shopping is clearly becoming one of the favorite ways for people to shop,” she says. “We’re very proud of the user-friendly nature of our website.”
And the brick-and-mortar enterprise is doing well, too. “Our business is growing, every month gets a little bit bigger and better. And the weekends are great; it’s like a party in here.”
“That was part of why we wanted to be here in the Miracle Mile, to be part of a real neighborhood,” Courtney explains. “To be a go-to spot, and with that comes the desire to know our neighbors. Once we got a dog, we got to know a lot of people,” she laughs. “It was a drastic difference when we moved here. People are so much nicer in the Miracle Mile. There’s a real sense of community. We love it.”
“I always pictured having a shop on Main Street when this was all still just a dream. And a week after we signed the lease here an article came out in the Los Angeles Times about how Wilshire Boulevard in the Miracle Mile is L.A.’s Main Street.”
How’s that for a dream come true?