Ivana Juric & Antonia Juric of Leo & Co. Bakery in Toronto
For many eaters, being picky is a privilege. However, for those living with autoimmune disorders, mindful eating is essential for one's health and wellness. For sisters Ivana and Antonia Juric, this isn't just a personal reality, it's the basis of their Leo & Co. Bakery business. And when the pandemic put everyone's health at risk, they knew they had to go the distance for those like themselves who live with serious dietary restrictions.
“We all need to do what we feel is right for ourselves in this situation. These are unprecedented times and it’s okay to not know what to do. Staying safe as well as mentally and physically healthy is the most important thing right now. Everything else comes second.” – Antonia Juric, co-owner of Leo & Co. Bakery.
After Antonia Juric was diagnosed with celiac disease, her health deteriorated, and she began to develop food allergies. Her sister Ivana, who also had dietary issues, wanted to help. So Ivana started cooking a restricted diet for her sister, and the health improvements were unbelievable. The sisters realized there was a gap in the market for baked goods that were nutrient-dense and designed for eaters with allergies and sensitivities. They created Leo & Co. Bakery to fill that gap, and it caught on.
When the pandemic hit, it changed everything for them. But Leo & Co. Bakery didn't want things to change for their dietary dependent customers. So they shifted the bakery to a delivery model without missing a beat. Ivana says, “As soon as the crisis happened, we saw neighbours, friends, communities and organizations rally to help one another out and it was a really beautiful thing. It shows you how we can’t just look out for ourselves, we only succeed when those around us succeed.”
Ivana and Antonia feel grateful to be of service and want their deliveries to make people feel special. “Our health and well-being is such a privilege and I think we are all realizing that being healthy, mentally and physically is a lot more important than how you look especially in terms of your immune system.”
Today, the sisters are running their business while taking extra care of themselves. They’re increasing their vitamin intake, exercising, and eating healthy. But they never lose sight of others, and encourage us to do the same. Send emails, make calls or text people in your community, and see if they need help. Antonia says, “Even though we’re apart, we’re all in this together. Don’t let this set back take away from how much you’ve healed and made it through.”
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