Soon after Kyra Bussanich ’00 opened her first gluten-free bakery, Kyra’s Bake Shop, in the Portland suburb of Lake Oswego in 2009, she watched a 4-year-old girl burst into tears. 

It turned out they were tears of happiness: The girl had been diagnosed with celiac disease, an immune disorder exacerbated by gluten. She’d become accustomed to eating only special cupcakes made for her. “She said, ‘Mom, which cupcake is mine?’” Bussanich recalls. “And when her mom said she could eat any one of them she wanted, she couldn’t contain herself.” 

Bussanich, who grew up in Portland, opened a second location of Kyra’s Bake Shop in the city’s trendy Northwest section in 2019; it’s adorned with “Keep Portland Sweet” signs, as well as drawings and photos of her signature treats all over the bright purple walls.