A woman from United States with Down syndrome is changing the world one cookie at a time. When Collette Divitto (31) graduated from the Clemson University at the age of 26, she had the great dream of working and living on her own in the city of Boston; however, in every job interview she went to, she always received the same answer from the recruiters: that she was not what they were looking for. That was more than enough for her to decide to give herself the opportunity that made her the protagonist of this inspiring history.
“I was ready to become independent. [Pero] it was hard to find jobs”Divitto said in statements to the program Make It de CNBC, but she refused to give up and, following the example of entrepreneurship instilled in her by her family, opened her own company and hired herself. In 2016, she released Collettey’s Cookiesa fast-growing new bakery company that sells cookies online, at various convenience stores, and at the stadium TD Garden en Boston.
Although the process felt daunting, her mother, Rosemary Alfredo, helped her through it by teaching her the basics of starting a small business and walking her through the logistical steps of determining a legal structure, registering the business, designing a logo, and creating a website. Then came the time for Divitto, which she has been baking since she was four years old and which is an activity that makes her feel “happy”show the world how good her baking skills were.
One of her first steps was taking samples of her Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Cookies to a local Boston store called Golden Goose Marketwhose owner was so impressed with her and her products that he placed an order for 100 12-packs. “We’re buying 40-pound bags of flour, we’re taking them to our apartment and we’re like, ‘My God, I don’t know what’s going to happen'”Alfredo recalled about his daughter’s frantic race to fulfill the request.
While she admitted that she was very scared from the start, Collette said that closing that deal made her feel “amazing and confident”. “I never, ever felt like this in my entire life”he added in an interview with the magazine PEOPLE, whose next step with her partner (her mother) was to secure the rental of a commercial kitchen to give her more space to make her cookies. With an investment of “less than $20,000″ – most of it going to rent their operations center – the duo launched Collettey’s Cookies.
It didn’t take long for the history of Collette Divitto went viral and, according to the young CEO (Chief Executive Officer, for its acronym in English), her company sold 4,000 cookies in her first three months in business and more than 550,000 units since she started six years ago . Today, the cookie company is also enjoying success on social media, with more than 43,000 followers on Facebook and almost 30,000 in Instagram.
In addition to bearing much of the weight of the company’s growth, Divitto dedicates much of its time and energy to creating more opportunities for people with functional diversity. The company has 15 employees and about half of them also have disabilities –”an intentional choice”as he explained, so he strives to train one by one personally. “Create more jobs for disabled people. That’s my whole mission.”he stressed.
“I really want to help these people who have a disability who can’t find a job”Divitto explained. “There are 85% of people with disabilities who are unemployed and can’t find a job. I know exactly the struggle because actually I was one of them who couldn’t find a job.”added the young entrepreneur, seeing herself reflected in the people she now has under her command and giving them the opportunity that she was not given.
In 2018, Collete Divitto and her mother launched a non-profit organization called “Collettey Leadership Programs” which offers workshops and tutoring services for people with and without disabilities. “It makes me feel very inspired. Helping other people is amazing. No matter who you are, you can make a difference in this world.”concluded the executive director of Collettey’s Cookies.