Recipe for success: N.S. man turns love of baking into business opportunity
Published Tuesday, January 19, 2016 6:13PM AST
Last Updated Wednesday, January 20, 2016 9:11AM AST
A Nova Scotia man on the autism spectrum has turned his love for baking into a business opportunity.
Iain Downey lives with Asperger’s syndrome, a high functioning form of autism. While the syndrome can make social situations difficult for him, Downey’s right at home in the kitchen.
“My favourite is the ginger cookies because I don’t need to look at the recipe,” says Downey.
Downey’s family has been tinkering with recipes since he was young, after discovering he had food sensitivities.
“After about two weeks we asked him how he felt and he said, ‘my tummy doesn’t hurt anymore’ and we realized for all his life his tummy had hurt and he just thought it was normal,” says Iain’s mother Heather Downey.
Downey spends his free time whipping up tasty treats like gluten and dairy-free black bean brownies, cinnamon buns, and fruitcake.
In 2014, baking grew from a past-time to a business – Iain's Incredible Edibles.
“Baking here, being my own boss, I don’t have to work for anyone, but if I want to take the afternoon off, I have to work through the evening,” says Downey.
Until recently, Downey was making his incredible edibles at home. That changed when a space became available at the Grace United Church in Dartmouth in December.
“Using this space for just one hour a week never made much sense to us so, over the years I've been involved, we've been pretty deliberate about throwing open the doors to the community,” says Martin Walker, with Grace United Church.
The church does not charge for the use of its certified kitchen, however Downey has been making donations relative to his income.
Brian Foster works with Ready, Willing & Able, an organization that helps people with intellectual disabilities and Autism Spectrum Disorder find meaningful employment.
Foster has known Downey since he was a boy and, now, he and the organization are helping Downey expand his business.
“Demand is growing and we're more than happy to see it. It’s what makes him a success story,” says Foster. “Moving into the kitchen really helped with his capacity. Now he's not just a friend selling cookies, he's a business selling certified food from a certified kitchen.”
Downey’s mother says she has noticed a change in her son.
“He's become more confident, and happier.”
Due to a copyright issue, Downey is changing the name of his company from Iain's Incredible Edibles to Iain's Gluten-Free On-The-Go.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Dan MacIntosh