Times of hardship often give rise to innovation and spark creativity. In Toronto, this has been the case for two friends and now business partners, Chelsea Hearty and Ian Moores.
An event planner and a bartender; both lost their jobs during the pandemic. A couple of days into the first lockdown, Moores was determined to make “the best cookie ever” for what was “literally a midnight snack.”
After this, the “angel pillow” was born. Like many at the time (myself included), Hearty and Moores began posting what they were snacking on to their social media channels. Before long, they said their friends and family wanted to buy cookies from them.
“We weren’t doing much and figured it could keep us busy for a week or two,” they told Daily Hive. This was just the beginning of their brand new venture, Courage Cookies.
Neither Hearty nor Moores anticipated what was to come. “We keep saying ‘the stars aligned,’ and they really did.” When they decided to take orders from their friends, more connections of theirs wanted to buy, and before they knew it, they had “tons of strangers” reaching out to them.
“We’ve both dreamt about owning our own business one day,” they said during our interview. “Never in a million years did we think we’d be running a cookie company together.”
Today, Courage Cookies offers approximately 25 (and growing) rotating flavours, with vegan and gluten-free options, too. When asked what some of their most popular products are, Hearty and Moores said it’s an impossible question to answer.
“We wouldn’t put it on the shelf if we didn’t love it. We sell out nearly daily,” they said. Their original cookie, the angel pillow, is “often overlooked and underrated,” but once people try it, they “come back again and again.” The chocolate chunk is another popular option.
Do the co-founders of Courage Cookies have a current favourite? They confirmed they do: the brown butter oatmeal cookie.
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Since baking that first midnight snack in their Toronto kitchen, Hearty and Moores landed their own shop within Stackt Market at 28 Bathurst Street. They initially reached out to Stackt to arrange a pop-up in June 2020, when they saw consistent orders coming through and had customers who wanted to try more flavours.
“The weather was getting nicer, and Stackt was on board to let two ‘bakers’ try to sell their cookies one day. We did three pop-ups in a week, and then Stackt asked us if we’d be interested in opening a shop in the complex.”
They continued, “We had no idea what we were doing and didn’t have much time to decide. We decided to give it a go for three months, and we’re still here!” The baking doesn’t happen on-site at Stackt, so the duo starts their day selling at least 10 different flavours.
Hearty and Moores said that while they need to get a bigger space and move into their own kitchen, the biggest challenge for them right now is the uncertainty of everything around COVID-19. They asked, “Will people still like cookies when the pandemic is over?”
For now, the business partners want to continue making tasty cookies for Canadians and supporting those in need as much as they can. “Being unemployed, we had nothing to give during a time that there was so much going on in the world. As soon as people wanted to pay us for cookies, we wanted to give back.”
They set a goal of $10,000 last April and have donated over $35,000 to date. “We currently donate 5% of our overall revenue and hold a 24-hour monthly drive where we donate 100%. We switch up who we’re donating to all the time.”
Members of the Courage Cookies community are encouraged to reach out to Hearty and Moores concerning donation partners. “We love hearing from our community members and learning about organizations they would love to support.”
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The appreciation that both Hearty and Moores have for the local community in Toronto and further across Canada was evident throughout our conversation.
“We’re super grateful for the community that supports us. If it wasn’t for them — we wouldn’t be here,” they added. “We can’t thank you all enough.”
To view the full sampling menu of drool-worthy treats at Courage Cookies and place an order for delivery in Canada, head to couragecookies.ca. You can also swing by Stackt Market to pick up the daily specials in person and delight in the cookie goodness sooner.
Address: 28 Bathurst Street, Stackt Market
Hours: 12 pm until all product is sold out (Tuesday to Sunday)