Boy with Down syndrome runs cupcake store

This Wisconsin 12-year-old runs his own small business — a cupcake shop operating in a storefront connected to his family’s home.

John Truel, the boy behind Cupcakes on 8th in Marshfield, also has Down syndrome.

"When his friends come in, he’s like, ‘May I help you? What Flavor?'" his mom, Patricia Truel told "He’s very proud."

The 336-square-foot store began in 2009, when Patricia started selling cupcakes made in their home kitchen while they were living in Columbus, Ohio. Patricia explained the small business started as a way to work from home on top of being a full-time mother, and John’s full-time caretaker.

“I kind of wasn’t feeling fulfilled,” she said. “I needed something other than just my every day motherly chores.”

Her business selling cupcakes door-to-door picked up quickly, and by the fourth weekend, which happened to coincide with a local graduation and Father’s Day, she received an order of 48 dozen cupcakes to be made out of her home.

She continued selling cupcakes to her neighbors until her family relocated. When they were eventually brought to Marshfield, Patricia decided to purchase a home with a little shop on the same property, and pass the business along to her youngest son.

“I don’t want him to have to rely on someone taking care of him or state funding. I want him to have something himself, feel fulfilled,” she explained. “So, when he grows, up he’s already got his home and we’ll work in his backyard in the little cupcake shop.”

Until John is old enough to take over the shop on his own, Patricia explained she spends a lot of her time working in the cupcake shop with him, and teaching him the ins and outs of the business — from working the register, to following recipes, to greeting customers.

And while the mother and son have always been close, Patricia said working long hours with her son has helped her develop another level of understanding for his special needs.

“I don’t see him when he’s working at school on his academics so I don’t really see the struggles because when he comes home, it’s different,” she said. “I just feel it makes me a better mother because it puts a whole new level of understanding to what his abilities are and what his disabilities are.”

For John, he told working alongside his mother on his own small business is pretty cool, especially the perks, namely peanut butter cupcakes.