Where are they now?
Baked Success––over coming rejection and the challenges of Down Syndrome
Collette Divitto doesn’t like to hear the word no.
A Ridgefield native with Down Syndrome, Divitto graduated from Clemson University in 2013 only to find that many employers didn’t want to hire her. After repeated rejection, the now-27-year-old did what any great entrepreneur would do. She created her own path to success.
Collettey’s Cookies is a cookie company based in Boston, and Divitto is not only the owner, but she also handles all of the recipe creation, staff hiring and training, label design, packaging, production, and day-to-day operations. Collettey’s makes around 4,000 cookies per week and recently signed a big deal with Albertsons grocery chain.
“Every day is a work in progress,” says Divitto, who grew up in Ridgefield and attended Scotland Elementary, Scotts Ridge, and RHS. “She took baking classes in ninth grade and her teacher told me, ‘She’s really good at this. You might want to start thinking about a vocation in this field,’” explains Divitto’s mom, Rosemary Alfredo. “She was constantly baking on the weekends and making up her own recipes. She ended up starting Collettey’s Cookies in 2011.”
After finding local success selling cookies at area businesses like The Cake Box and the now-defunct Fifty Coins Restaurant, Divitto decided to shut down the business before heading to Clemson University for the college’s LIFE Program. It wasn’t until graduation and the big job hunt, that Divitto started looking back at her prior success.
Currently, Divitto is living in the North End of Boston and her cookie accomplishments have landed her on “CBS Evening News” and “Good Morning America” as well as features in Self, Boston Food Journal, and PopSugar. She’s currently in the process of hiring additional staff (all who have various forms of disabilities) and is on the hunt for a larger commercial kitchen space.
“Every day is exciting,” says Divitto, who has perfected her two original cookie recipes, the “Amazing Cookie” (a chocolate chip-cinnamon cookie) and the “Healthy Breakfast Cookie” (oats, almonds, craisins, and honey). “Every day, I get to do what I love.”