Cupcake shop serves up a unique employment opportunity

TORONTO — Cristina’s Tortina Shop is no ordinary bakery. Aside from its cupcakes, specialty cakes and cookies – Cristina’s was created out of a mother’s love for her daughter.

“She’s inspired us to do this,” said Bakery owner and Cristina’s mother, Mary Iusso.

“Doing my research on down syndrome, it’s incredible what a negative stereotype is built around it. You know our first experience when somebody told us was, it started with, ‘I’m sorry, but we think your daughter has down syndrome,'” said Iusso.

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“I’m doing something that I admire, and by that I mean I admire anyone who looks at somebody as an individual as opposed to a diagnosis. And that’s how I see my daughter. And that’s how I see everyone here,” she said.

Cristina’s shop in Brampton opened in December and so did equal employment opportunities for people with down syndrome, autism and other special needs.

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“We have six employees in total,” said Iusso. “They are baking in the kitchen, they’re serving customers, we tidy up on a regular basis and everybody just loves coming here because of the uniqueness and the beautiful quality of our staff.”

John Davies, a regular customer at Cristina’s Tortina shop, doesn’t just come in for the treats, he comes in for the service.

“What she’s done here is something really innovative,” said Davies. “They’re working, they’re earning a living here, and of course, I can’t leave without having a speciality.

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