CINCINNATI — After six years of baking cookies to sell online, at festivals and in other people’s restaurants and coffee shops, Christina Davis has cooked up a brand-new bake-to-order concept for her storefront opening this month.
When Davis Cookie Collection opens Oct. 10 in Bond Hill, customers will be able to choose from a variety of toppings and ingredients to create a dozen cookies of their own design that will be baked on the spot in just five or six minutes and boxed up while still warm from the oven.
“I wanted to create a new niche here in Cincinnati,” said Christina Davis, the company’s owner and CEO. “It’s taken hard work, dedication, passion. We’re excited to finally have a location for people to come and visit us.”
The dessert shop will sell cookies, coffee and ice cream. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the store will accommodate only three customers at a time and will require everyone to wear masks.
While Davis is the creative force behind the baking business, she and her husband have been working together on it from the start.
“We both had the same mindset that you don’t just have to work. You can also own your own, and you can pass it down,” said Miles Davis Jr., a Cincinnati firefighter and the company’s chief operating officer. “People call it the American Dream to be able to have your own business. We feel like we’re living that.”
While COVID-19 has created plenty of complications and delays, the Davises are doing the right thing by making that dream come true now, said Allen Woods, co-founder and executive director of the entrepreneurship training program MORTAR.
“It is something that requires being able to step past that mode of fear and step into understanding,” Woods said. “Sometimes we need a little something to kind of help us get through. Sometimes, it’s having those sweets or those things that kind of remind us of home and being around the people that we love, so I think that this is a perfect time for them.”
Taking it to the next level
It all started for the Davises back in 2014.
Back then, Christina Davis was studying social work in graduate school at the University of Cincinnati and baked cookies for classmates and coworkers to relieve stress.
“There was one gentleman at my workplace that offered to pay me $15 for a dozen cookies, and I said to myself, ‘Wow – someone would actually purchase cookies?’” she said. “So I went home, I presented the idea of starting a cookie business, and my husband said, ‘Yay – let’s do it!’”
Miles Davis Jr., who also works as a firefighter based at the Cincinnati Fire Department Station 9 in Paddock Hills, said he hesitated at first. He had always wanted to own a business, he said, but he just wasn’t sure people would buy enough cookies.
He came around quickly.
“I was like, you know what, she loves to do it, and I’m here to support,” he said. “I knew that she had great cookies. There’s cookies out there that people don’t like, and they sell plenty of them. So if you’ve got a good cookie, how can you lose with that?”
The couple started small, launching the business from their home kitchen.
Davis went to MORTAR to learn more about entrepreneurship.
“Christina and Miles are excellent examples of what can happen when people come to us, and they already have kind of started in some fashion,” Woods said. “When Christina got to us, she had already started to build this brand, and she already had her logo. She was already doing business, and she just wanted to figure out how to take it to that next level.”
Davis soaked up all the advice and recommendations that MORTAR and its network of alumni had to offer, he said, all with the goal of building a business that would become a legacy for her family.
‘Creating for the future’
“What people are building today is not just for today,” Woods said. “While it is helping them to create new things and new financial stability for their households, what it’s also doing is giving them the ability to start thinking about legacy and what they’re creating for the future.”
Davis won a scholarship for 100 free hours at Findlay Kitchen, where she has been a member for more than three years. There she learned all about using large, commercial equipment. She and her husband connected with the Greater Cincinnati Development Authority, also known as The Port, to develop their storefront where Davis will be able to bake and sell more than 55 flavors of cookies.
Even as the Davises look to the future, though, they are using their new location to pay homage to the past.
They have a mural of characters they call the “Cookie Quintet,” made up of different types of cookies that represent different members of their families who influenced them. The five different flavors – chocolate chip, sprinkle, M&M, fudge brownie white chocolate chip and plain dough – represent beloved grandfathers, aunts and uncles.
Christina Davis said the cookie characters will be an important part of the Davis Cookie Collection brand, and she envisions kids and families posing in front of the mural for photos.
The painting is one of the hundreds of details Davis has been planning in the roughly two years she has been working to open the store.
“It’s been a journey,” she said.
And the journey has had more twists and turns than the couple ever expected possible, Miles Davis Jr. added.
But the whole Davis family is invested in making the new location a success, he said, adding that even the couple’s two children have become their mom’s taste testers for new recipes.
“To me, it’s about, do you really want it or do you not really want it?” he said. “And if you really want it, you’re willing to do whatever it takes. And that’s kind of the mindset we had to adapt to.”
Davis Cookie Collection has its grand opening scheduled for 2 p.m. Oct. 10. The shop is located at 4926 Reading Road in Bond Hill. More information about Davis Cookie Collection is available on the company's Facebook page.
Lucy May writes about the people, places and issues that define our region – to celebrate what makes the Tri-State great and shine a spotlight on issues we need to address. She has been reporting on women- and minority-owned businesses in Greater Cincinnati for more than 20 years. To reach Lucy, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @LucyMayCincy.