Woman With Down Syndrome Becomes Successful Cookie Entrepreneur
Boston business owner Collette Divitto has become an inspiration for people everywhere living with disabilities, and really, an inspiration to anyone who wants to run a successful business. After struggling to find a steady job, Divitto has gone into business for herself and never looked back.
Divitto, 26, is the founder of Collettey’s Cookies, a small startup that sells what Divitto calls “The Amazing Cookie,” which is made using a recipe Divitto created herself. “My cookies are like ridiculously yummy cookies,” she brags.
Divitto has always enjoyed baking, and she would always bring some cookies along with her when she would go on job interviews. The people who interviewed her always loved her cookies, but for one reason or another wouldn’t hire her. “It’s really upsetting,” she said. “Feels like I really just want to curl up on the couch and cry.”
“We spent a lot of years with a lot of people shutting doors on her,” explains Divitto’s mother, Rosemary Alfredo. “I think that all of that rejection for her made her say, ‘I’ll show them.'”
And “Show them” she did by starting her own cookie business. Things were slow at first, but Divitto managed to earn shelf space at the Golden Goose Market, a neighborhood grocer in North Boston.
Then a local news station did a feature on Divitto, and her business took off overnight. She has since been inundated with 4,000 orders from all over the country. At a dozen cookies per order, that’s nearly 50,000 cookies that Divitto now has to bake.
A local non-profit is helping give Divitto the space and facilities she needs to churn out that many cookies and ship them to her customers. She also has a GoFundMe page set up to raise money for a production and distribution facility.
Divitto says she would eventually like to forge a partnership with a nationwide chain and then set up baking locations across the country that will employ people with disabilities.
In the meantimes, Divitto has turned her passion for baking into a successful startup. In the process, she has become an inspiration for others with disabilities.
“I never raised her looking at her as if she had limitations,” says Alfredo. “I just said, ‘We all have them. We all have things we’re good at, and we all have things we’re not good at.'”