In 2019 iconic brand Barbie turns 60, and as part of its anniversary celebration the brand has launched a program

Barbie is celebrating its anniversary with a 60-week partnership with Toys”R“Us Canada to highlight and celebrate a diverse group of 60 successful and inspiring women and girls who exemplify Barbie’s ‘you can do anything’ mantra. Two inspiring Bramptonians will be a part of the campaign.

Mary and Cristina Russo are the founders of Cristina’s Tortina Shop — a local baking company that advocates for people who have what they call exceptionalities.

Cristina was born with Down syndrome, and her mother Mary made it her mission to advocate for a more inclusive world where everyone can reach their potential.

The shop employs people with Down syndrome, autism and other exceptionalities to bake, decorate and serve customers.

“Unfortunately there are stereotypes that follow [Cristina] around, and we’re looking to break that stereotype,” said Mary. “She can do whatever she wants and become whatever she wants to become, but unfortunately society doesn’t see it that way.”

The company works hard to promote the abilities of people with exceptionalities, educate the public and inspire companies to hire people with exceptionalities. Their Barbie campaign will focus on a message of quality for everyone, including people with Down syndrome. “It’s why we do what we do,” says Mary.

Mattel, the company that owns Barbie, is launching different career dolls for the 60th anniversary, including a bakery chef doll.

“You have to understand when you’re told your child has Down syndrome, perfect is not a word they ever use. Barbie is your iconic, perfect doll, so for them to recognize Cristina as perfection, because I think she’s perfect, I cried for like 5 minutes.”

Cristina and Mary’s story will be featured online and in Toys”R“Us stores across Canada. The two will also be participating in various events over the course of Barbie’s 60th anniversary celebration campaign.

Cristina’s Tortina Shop is located at 332 Main Street North, Unit 3 at the corner of Main and Vodden.