Unique Sweets, a bakery based on Chicago's Northwest Side, helps young adults with Autism develop work and social skills by baking, managing the kitchen and selling their baked goods.
Founder Liza Curiel started Unique Sweets from her kitchen in 2018 to help her son Sebastian, who has Autism, bridge the gap between school and the working world.
The bakery is a social enterprise organization run completely by volunteers. Each baker and employee gets a stipend from the baked goods they sell.
Curiel said Unique Sweets fills the need of a community for adults with Autism.
Feeling out of the loop? We'll catch you up on the Chicago news you need to know. Sign up for the weekly Chicago Catch-Up newsletter here.
"I felt like there was a lack of resources and programs available to him," Curiel said. "Unique Sweets was an opportunity for him and his friends to come together and work through life skills and employable skills."
Now, 23-year-old Sebastian has a community within Unique Sweets where him and other participants hone valuable skills such as communication, customer service and time management.
Curiel added that April is an important month because it is Autism Awareness Month which pushes people to accept and understand Autism more.
"We want there to be inclusion. Unique Sweets seek opportunities for there to be inclusion," Curiel said. "I'm always surprised by how little people understand about Autism."
The organization is hosting a "Coffee and Cakes for a Cause" pop-up May 8 in collaboration with multiple coffee roasters that also employ adults with Autism and other disabilities. Customers can purchase their baked goods and coffee online and then pick them up May 8 at 1829 N. Spaulding.
The organization has also offered online cooking classes and groups for people with Autism to stay connected throughout the pandemic.
Unique Sweets receives orders through its Facebook page and caters their baked good for weddings, business gathering and other events. Each cake is around $15.