Photos by Jordan Hefler

It All Started with a Cookie: The classics are at the core of Counterspace


Opened: 2018 | Cookie Type: Classic | @counterspacebr

Around 2017, Sarah Joy Hays showed up at the MidCity Makers Market with a few batches of cookies made the way she likes—crunchy around the edges, moist in the middle, chock full of chocolate chips and topped with sea salt flakes.

She had dozens of recipes for homemade baked goods in her back pocket but kept it simple to start. “While working a full-time job as a single parent, I could bust out a whole bunch of cookie dough,” she says.

Word quickly spread about the chocolatey, salty wonders and she started selling out before the market ended. “For all the people in Baton Rouge who have known me since then, that cookie really is the thing they know me for, which I love,” Hays says.

When White Star Market opened in 2018, she decided to share more of her kitchen creations with a booth in the contemporary food hall, and CounterspaceBR made its delicious debut. Now, seven years after that first weekend at the market, the business has blossomed into a full-service bakery and retail shop across what is soon to be three locations.

“We prioritize flavor combinations, freshness and ingredients, and that’s been a constant challenge and excitement,” Hays says. She’s successfully navigated challenges like the chicken flu epidemic, which increased egg prices, and the impact of the war in Ukraine on flour production. Despite these obstacles, Counterspace continues to thrive, expanding its baked and retail offerings as well as its footprint to meet the demand of customers who, during Mardi Gras’ king cake frenzy, hail from all over the world.

From unicorn bars and biscuits to bakeware and stationery, Counterspace has something for everyone. But each morning, as the ovens preheat, Hays is reminded of where it all began—with her version of the perfect cookie.

The salted chocolate chip cookie remains the bakery’s hottest item, responsible for 40% of total revenue last year, according to Hays.

“A really good cookie can stand the test of time,” she says. “A cookie is where it started, but there’s so much more to enjoying a cookie than just buying one. Maybe it’s learning how to bake them yourself or sharing them at an event or having people over and having cookies for the party.”

Cookies are the cornerstone of Hays’ bakery and commitment to the community. If you’ve been to any major charitable event in the past few years, you’ve likely seen the Counterspace cookies there, too.

“It’s really sweet that this cookie can transcend a phase and a craze to be a staple and a cornerstone for our community in how we enjoy it and how we’re able to give back to Baton Rouge,” Hays says. “It’s been fun to watch some of the younger bakers rise up and see cookies take the spotlight again.”