The phrase ‘like mother, like daughter’ could not ring more true for Cristina and Isabella Toscano. This dynamic duo are two of the warmest and most generous people you will ever meet, and their effervescing spirit follows them wherever they go.
Growing up as a child in an Italian family in Australia in the 1960s, Cristina has always been surrounded by those who passionately love food. Her father especially would make traditional panettone and colomba cakes in his biscuit and cake factory and in the process started a popular business that would support his family in the ‘lucky country’. Forty odd years later in 2011, Cristina along with her daughter Isabella decided to start their own business, a bespoke food and gifting business called Cristina Toscano Everything Food – and honestly if there are two women to entrust with food prowess and knowledge it is these two.
Starting their business from their dining room table with a friends and family night, the duo took a risk and ordered 1000 empty gift boxes with the challenge of filling them up with luxury food and homewares and selling them all. Lo and behold, almost six years later and business is booming in the epicurean city of Melbourne, with two tiers of the business emerging: CTEF’s famous panettone and colomba cakes that are sell out well before Christmas or Easter has even arrived, and their luxury gift boxes that are sought after and have become a popular fixture on the corporate circuit.
This mother-daughter team’s success is largely due to their fastidious attention to detail, from the products they choose (including balsamic glazed pears imported from Italy and candles from Greece) to their packaging that makes it feel like it is Christmas every day and their optimistic customer service that keeps you thirsty for more. The same approach for detail is extended to their shoe collections featuring Italian and European classics, soft leathers and shoes that make a statement and are worth the investment.
What was the first pair of shoes you remember owning as a kid, and why did you love them?
Cristina: Black patent t-bars! All the Aussie girls at school had this, and this Italian girl wanted a pair. I used to sleep with them next to my bed so I could look at them. I truly loved them!
Isabella: I had a pair of gold Mary Janes that I wore as a flower girl when I was 3 and I would wear them everywhere. I have an entire playgroup photo album where I am ‘pretending’ to play in them, I still recall that I refused to step in the sandpit for a photograph just in case I ruined my gold little shoes.
What pair of shoes are you still lusting over from childhood?
Isabella: I am still lusting over a pair of white platform Sketchers a la Baby Spice from the Spice Girls. I had an all white pair but I still wish I had an all black pair too. Mum says I was always so close to twisting my ankles in them but I would still never take them off.
What do you think your current shoe collection says about you?
Cristina: I spend a lot of money on shoes, I love them! And still sometimes never the right suit for something.
Isabella: I have way too many boots and have finally realised that perhaps I need to invest in some more everyday classics.
What is your all time favourite pair of shoes?
Cristina: I love a sexy black evening shoe.
Isabella: I love an embellished or jeweled high heel, especially Manolo Blahniks.
The age-old debate: Heels or flats? And why?
Cristina: I have always loved and bought heels, which have slowly transitioned into a wedge for comfort over the years. My secret to wearing them all night is that I take two anti-inflammatories before I leave the house – it works wonders!
Isabella: Similarly to mum, always heels! For me heels really elongate your legs, are seriously flattering and have the ability to finish off all outfits.
What has been your biggest splurge on shoes?
Cristina: I can’t even say! Too much!
Isabella: Over $1000 on a pair of Valentina Rockstuds in Paris. The colour was sold out worldwide, so when I found a pair in the colour AND in my size I had to have them. Have only worn them three times in two years, oops.
Where’s the best place your shoes have taken you?
Cristina: Beautiful parties, overseas travel and my dad’s biscuit and cake factory. The last is particularly important to me as it eventually led me into starting my own business 40 odd years later, where I am able to re-produce and honour his panettone and colomba cakes and share them with the community.
Isabella: Shoes have led me to the most memorable family holidays, including watching the sunset over the sand dunes in Dubai and finding the most authentic pizzeria in Rome, where waiters carry 12 pizzas at a time. (PS. It’s called Pizzeria Ai Marmi).
Be honest, do you keep your shoes in out of the box?
Cristina: Both, it really depends on how special they are and if I wear them every day. If they are an everyday shoe, they normally stay out of the box for convenience.
Isabella: Outside of the box 90% of the time. I finally invested in a shoe rack, so I can see them all on display and most live here, except for the odd pair of heels that are in their box or dust bag.
What type of shoe would you never be seen in?
Cristina: I would never ever be seen in plastic shoes!
Isabella: Crocs! Still trying to figure out how they can be comfortable or look good on your foot. It’s a mystery to me!
What’s your biggest shoe regret?
Cristina: A pair of summer Furla sandals. They looked great in Sicily and when I brought them back to Melbourne I instantly thought, ‘WTF, when and where am I ever going to wear these?’.
Isabella: A pair of Hogan runners in Italy. The Italian girls rock that sporty jeans, white t-shirt and runners look so well and I just can’t. My friends used to try and throw them out when I would do a wardrobe clean out!
Your verdict on ugg boots out in public, yes or no?
Cristina: They are a 100% no go zone in public.
Isabella: Not in public, especially since there are so many other shoes you could wear instead.
How many pairs of shoes is too many?
Cristina and Isabella: Never! Everyone lusts over more shoes and we are definitely included!
Finish this sentence: Whatever happened to the Old Lady who lived in a shoe…
Cristina and Isabella: She kept on buying shoes.
To find out more about Cristina and Isabella visit their website here or follow Cristina Toscano Everything Food on Instagram here.
Cristina chooses habbot’s Razzle and Isabella chooses habbot’s Crumble to get them from A to B this spring season.