Chicago-based bakery which employs autistic individuals garners support from the community and a reward of $10,000.
Autism as a condition has had a lot of negative stereotypes attached to it. These stereotypes create a lot of issues with employment, due to which only 21.7% of them were in the workforce in 2021, per Autistica. However, establishments like Unique Sweets aim to break these assumptions through their workforce, which mainly employs people who are autistic. In Liza Pereira's own words, Unique Sweets "is more than a bakery--Unique Sweets is a community." In order to honor their beautiful commitment Good Morning America awarded them a $10,000 cheque.
The Unique Sweet's objective is to aid people with autism spectrum disorders to advance their skills. In an interview with Good Morning America, Liza Pereira, the owner of Unique Sweets, said, "We are working towards opening up a community cafe. We want to create a safe place for autistic adults to come together and not just be employed, but there be an inclusive space to come and just be themselves. Where everyone can come in and share in the collective experience that is autism and really learn what autistic people bring into our lives."
The inspiration behind this establishment came from Pereira's son Sebastian who is also autistic and his friends. They want individuals like Sebastian to use this establishment as a bridge between high school graduation and entering the workforce. Like everyone on their first few days at work, employees in Unique Sweets struggled with their cupcake-making skills. Either they were raw or burned, but Pereira kept encouraging them to learn baking. She emphasized the importance of baking by saying, "Baking was a great tool because it was a means of practicing all of the different skill sets that we need so that we can be successful and independent."
Seeing Pereira's commitment to inclusivity, many bakers joined and people in the community supported the endeavor by placing big orders. Jeremiah Nuñez, one of the longtime bakers employed in Unique Sweets, shares his happiness at being part of the establishment by saying, "Baking makes me very proud. We adults with autism want everyone to know that we are very good at baking cupcakes". Cristine Torres, another baker in the establishment, brings attention to the fact that along with enhancing their skills, people also gain a safe space for their employment.
Establishment being a safe place to work is a crucial factor for people going through with autism, as in many cases, they feel a lack of support when they might need a bit more help, like repeating instructions, as reported by CNN.
Currently, the business employs 300 people and produces over 3000 cupcakes in a single year. Through their profits, their next aim is to create a brick-and-mortar structure in Chicago from which they can conduct their business. GMA decided to help them in their endeavor seeing their noble efforts and gave them $10000 on their show. In the show, they were sponsored with brand new professional baking equipment from Unifiller Systems. Also, they were given ELF400 compact and portable tabletop batter depositors, ensuring the batter deposits are precise, which can speed up production and reduces waste.