Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Courtney Kohout, Founder of Courtney's Cookies, located in Miami, FL, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Courtney's Cookies is a local Miami woman-owned bakery specializing in guilt-free, delicious desserts. All sweet treats are organic, vegan, gluten-free, refined sugar-free, and nutrient-dense. Our customers range from people with dietary restrictions/food allergies to health-conscious individuals, diabetics, athletes, or anyone who just enjoys a yummy cookie.
Tell us about yourself
I'm originally from Ohio. I moved to Miami in 2006, but I attribute who I am to where I'm from. I grew up with an awesome family and frequently baked cookies with my mom and grandma. I developed my love for baking (and cooking) from my family. I'm confident Courtney's Cookies wouldn't exist without my family background.
When I was in college, I was studying to become a holistic health coach and simultaneously became gluten-free. This meant I could no longer have the chocolate chip cookies I grew up enjoying, and for me, that was a problem. So, I went to the store to find some gluten-free chocolate chip cookies and was quite disappointed with the options. The ingredients were terrible, and the texture/taste was gross.
So, I took matters into my own hands and recreated the chocolate chip cookies I grew up baking, only without the gluten, eggs, butter, and refined sugar. What started as a personal desire for chocolate chip cookies ended up becoming a business as friends and family tried my new creations. Everyone was so impressed with how delicious they were for how healthy they were.
My boyfriend at the time saw the reaction from everyone and had always wanted to manage a business (he studied business in college). So, the two of us joined forces, and it took five months to set the foundation to launch Courtney's Cookies. That was in 2016, and we haven't looked back.
The love and support from our customers are what motivate us to continue doing what we do. It is such an honor to see the smile on peoples' faces once they try our cookies or ice cream sandwiches that they otherwise couldn't eat due to dietary restrictions.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
The biggest accomplishment as a business owner is creating something from nothing and being able to make it grow and sustain it. It is deeply satisfying to work within my passion and help others and bring them joy along the way.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
So many things come to mind, but one of the biggest is balancing all of the different tasks/wearing so many different hats as an entrepreneur. But, at the same time, the diversity of tasks prohibits monotony, so that's actually kind of refreshing. Another thing that comes to mind is properly maintaining work/life balance. You absolutely work more hours as a business owner than a standard employee would, but that's what it takes to succeed.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
I would absolutely recommend doing market research within your respective field and also picking the brains of people who are already working within that space. Also, you MUST know your numbers! And be sure to include paying yourself from the start so that as you grow, that margin is there for you. Lastly, create a rough draft of a business model. Just write down everything that comes to mind and refine that model as things evolve. Some things will work, others won't. Consider all streams of revenue and evaluate which path will be the most profitable with the least resistance.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Our business was ultimately created to provide a solution for a healthy, delicious dessert. Especially now, there are more gluten-free/vegan options on the market than ever before, but ingredients matter more than anything! I am very proud of our nutrient-dense ingredients that are actually good for people's health. I'm honored that so many people love our sweet treats just as much as I do, and I look forward to continuing to nourish our customers' sweet sides.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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