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Check Out Mari Rubio’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mari Rubio.

Hi Mari , we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself
Long story short, Casa Gioia is the byproduct of many situations that were going on at the time of it’s birth- back in 2013 – that started as something to help me keep busy while defining what is it that I wanted out of life.

I graduated in 2012 from Johnson & Wales University in North Miami, FL, with an AS in Culinary Arts, BS in Food Service Management and a concentration in Events & Sales Management. Since I was a little kid I knew I wanted to be a chef but never a pastry chef. I didn’t care much- if not at all- about pastry because of its science and precision (patience is not one of my strongest virtues).

But, certainly life had other plans for me. While I was going through a post-college graduate crisis figuring out if Culinary was my thing or if I should focus on Event & Sales, I was looking for work but wasn’t able to find any. I wasn’t qualified enough – or I was looking at the wrong places, who knows?

While my work search was unfruitful, I started baking goodies at home and they came out quite nicely. I needed a source of income since I was cut off financially, so it seemed like a good idea to sell them until I found something more stable. It was never my intention to become a business owner. But, one thing let to another, I started falling for baking, people started falling for my things, and Casa Gioia was born.

Fast forward 8 years later, here we are today, sharing gioia with everyone that wants it, anywhere in the States.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Nothing that’s worthwhile or long-term is smooth. This has been one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done in my life. Every day is different, every day there is something new to learn, every day you make mistakes, and every day you grow. But it has also been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done.

Struggles, many. Like for example, learning on my own the ropes about pastry. The little I learned in school wasn’t enough for me to actually call myself “knowledgeable” in pastry, let alone a pastry shop owner. So that was the first thing.

Then, let’s take business: running a business is a hard job as is, even for someone that’s seasoned in the area. So imagine for a 22 year old girl that didn’t even had a business plan for this project that was unknowingly evolving in her own hands.

And of course, as you grow professionally and personally, and so does the business, it starts to demand other things from you that you need to either be prepared for it, or willing to learn how to be prepared for it.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Casa Gioia is a bake-to-order business that specializes in desserts. Everything is baked from scratch and made with joy. We specialize in many things but right now the top items we’ve become most known for are the cakes, Nutella cookies and tres leches.

I am most proud of how far we’ve come and how resilient we’ve been. How much we’ve grown given our circumstances and given that this business is purely the result of hard work, dedication and faith. We’re also proud of the name we’ve established for ourselves in this city and the amazing relationships we’ve built along the way.

What I think that sets us apart from others is the flavor of nostalgia that accompanies our desserts. It is almost an immediate reaction in people’s faces when they try something of ours and say “oy, this reminds me of such and such my grandma used to make back home”, or “this tastes just like my childhood”, and right then and there I am happy.

What sort of changes are you expecting over the next 5-10 years?
I think we will become more and more interested in learning where our products come from, their background, how they were grown, who makes them…more storytelling.

I recently read a research about baking trends and forecasts for the upcoming years that stated that the “free form food products” (sugar-free, lactose-free, gluten-free, etc) , especially gluten free products, are growing tremendously and will average a 10% growth each year for the next three years. So we will continue to see many more desserts being tweaked to fit the “free form trend”.

Also, more and more each day people are getting busier, life is getting messier and they have less time to spare, so I believe that the convenience of the grab-n-go concept is only getting started and here to stay for a long time.

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