We had the good fortune of connecting with Courtney Leon and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Courtney, how does your business help the community or world?
Courtney’s Cookies was created by solving a problem. The problem was that there were no enjoyable gluten-free and vegan cookies that had clean ingredients and didn’t taste like cardboard. So, I fused my background of baking cookies with my mom and grandma and combined it with my passion for nutrition to create the ultimate cookie. As a holistic health coach, I am passionate about using food as medicine. I believe everything we eat should nourish our bodies, minds and souls. We provide an alternative for those who can’t eat “regular” cookies full of gluten, animal products and processed sugar. In addition to our signature cookies, we also offer dairy-free/gluten-free/soy-free/nut-free ice cream sandwiches and CBD cookies. We’ve been in business for four years now, and my favorite part is the feedback we receive from our customers. We serve a variety of groups: mothers with children who have food allergies/intolerances, people who suffer with lactose-intolerance, celiac disease or diabetes, people who are vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free, or sugar-free, health-conscious individuals, or anyone who just loves a good cookie or ice cream sandwich. Our customers are always so thrilled to find a delicious and nutritious dessert they can enjoy guilt-free. In addition to our signature cookies and ice cream sandwiches, we also offer CBD cookies that have been a huge hit. We have two CBD options made with a full-spectrum organic CBD oil: Chill Out and Nighty Night. Our CBD cookies help people suffering with anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances and pain or inflammation. Our Chill Out cookie helps promote calmness and relaxation and our Nighty Night cookie helps you sleep like a baby. Not only are our cookies soft and chewy like what I grew up enjoying, but they are made of entirely organic, whole-food, plant-based, nutrient-dense ingredients. Our cookies are actually good for you, and scrumptious, too! We believe eating whole foods from the earth is essential for overall vitality. We truly are what we eat, so to be well, we must eat well… dessert included! It is our honor to provide nutrient-dense, guilt-free cookies and ice cream sandwiches for all to enjoy.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I knew from an early age that I wanted to have a career in the health field. I graduated FIU with a dual degree in Psychology and English and my plan was to get my Masters in Psychology to become a mental health counselor focusing on helping women with eating disorders. I had disordered eating myself in middle school and had a pivotal moment in high school when I realized I didn’t need to be afraid of food. Once I realized food could be used as medicine, my whole life changed. So, I wanted to take my own personal experience and help others avoid the same mistakes I made. When I was about to graduate from college I met with a Psych professor whom I admired to ask him how he ended up doing what he does (he was a professor and mental health counselor). I explained to him my plan, and he referred a colleague of his. When I met with her, she told me about the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN). This woman was a holistic health coach and mental health counselor. Before this meeting, I had no idea about health coaches, but once I learned, I KNEW that was the path for me. So, instead of getting my Masters, I attend IIN and became certified as a holistic health coach. I then went on to join The Earth Diet health coaching team where I took on clients as a health coach. It took time to build up a client list, so I simultaneously applied at Whole Foods Market for the position of a Healthy Eating Specialist. The job was essentially educating the community on healthy eating, having weekly cooking classes in-store, promoting their “Health Starts Here” program. I didn’t get the job with my first interview, but the position was never filled and I was given a second interview months later. I learned from my first interview and got the job the second time around! That was really my first “corporate job”. Before that, I worked for myself taking care of kids, tutoring and health coaching. I’ve always been the type to do my own thing, but with my job at Whole Foods, I still had the freedom to do just that. It was truly the perfect job for me. About nine months into that position, the store was consolidating positions and decided my job was no longer essential, so, they let me go. I was pretty devastated. After dealing with my emotions, I went back to taking care of kids and health coaching, simultaneously looking for other opportunities. I found a job as a kids chef instructor with a non-profit called Common Threads. Essentially, I taught weekly cooking classes offered in the school cafeteria as an after-school program to middle schoolers. They learned how to properly use chef knives and prepared meals from a different country each week. That job was very fun and rewarding, as I got to fuse together my love for healthy food and working with kids. During all of this, I had created my own chocolate chip cookie recipe for my own enjoyment. I started sharing these cookies with friends and the conversation would always turn into how they were so good and I should sell them. I went to a local farmers market with chocolate avocado pudding, black bean brownies, banana creme chia seed pudding and chocolate chip cookies. The cookies were the star of the show, so I figured I should just focus on the cookies instead of a variety of plant-based desserts. With the support of my husband, Courtney’s Cookies was created. I had the recipes/marketing experience and he had the business, operational and sales background. We spent about five months setting the foundation for our business and then started out at local farmers markets. We used to do 4-5 markets a week. Less than a year later, we started wholesaling to local cafes, gyms and restaurants around Miami. From there we’ve grown into shipping nationwide and also offer delivery via UberEats, Postmates, GrubHub and DoorDash in Miami. We have organically grown our business year after year in a risk-adverse, profitable fashion. There have definitely been lots of challenging times, but owning our own business is so rewarding and worth any of the fights or tears that have occurred along the way. For the most part, it has been very smooth and a positive experience. My husband and I both walk to the beat of our own drums, so being our own bosses is just the natural way for us. The entrepreneurial life ultimately equals freedom, so we wouldn’t have it any other way. We are proud and honored to provide our nourishing sweets for everyone to enjoy
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I originally moved to Miami in 2006 from Ohio. I fell in love with Florida when I visited as a child and absolutely am still obsessed with the sun, warm weather and beaches. If my best friend were in town visiting, most of our time would be spent at the beach or near the water. I’m a huge nature lover, and Miami has SO much to offer nature-wise. I’d be sure to stop by the Design District/Wynwood area for sight seeing and great food, along with taking a drive over the Rickenbacker causeway to Key Biscayne for awesome views all around. I would also be sure to take some nice walks around the Coral Gables / Coconut Grove area with all of the beautiful tree-lined streets.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I want to dedicate this shoutout to my husband, Frank. Honestly, if it weren’t for him, Courtney’s Cookies probably wouldn’t exist. He is the operational machine that keeps our business running. He does all of the backend work that people don’t see and is my biggest supporter. His belief in my cookie recipe and mission has provided the support to successfully continue our small business four years strong.