Baking Her Way

It takes a lot of hard work and determination to achieve big goals. Many times, people must persevere in spite of obstacles to realize their dreams. Collette Divitto is a talented baker who managed to do just that. She used her bright personality, determination, and talent to become an entrepreneur.

Collette Divitto was born in Boston. Like many others, after graduating from college, she wanted to get a job. She went to many job interviews, but she kept getting rejected. Many employers said she was “not the right fit.” Divitto believed she was being rejected so often because she was born with Down syndrome.

Down syndrome is a genetic disorder related to a person’s chromosomes. Chromosomes are rod-like structures in our cells that carry our genes. Genes hold the codes that determine our physical features, like our height or how we smile. Most people have 23 pairs of chromosomes in each cell. People with Down syndrome have a full or partial extra copy of one of those chromosomes in all or some of their cells. As a result, they often have intellectual or physical disabilities.

Facing many job rejections, Divitto felt discouraged and hurt. She felt she wanted to open her own business and be her own boss. She thought about her hobbies and passions. Divitto knew she loved baking. She would always create delicious recipes to share with her family and friends. One of these recipes was for a chocolate chip cookie rolled in cinnamon sugar. Her mom tasted the cookies and urged her to write down the recipe to make them again. Divitto began baking and selling her cinnamon chocolate cookies locally, calling her business “Collettey’s Cookies.” She took her cookies to a local grocery store named Golden Goose Market, and she asked the market to sell her cookies. Immediately after tasting the cookies, the market decided to sell Divitto’s cookies. Golden Goose Market became Divitto’s first client.

Eventually, a television station shared the story of Divitto’s cookie business. Her story went viral! People loved hearing about her journey and how she pushed through rejection to find meaningful work and make a living. Soon, more news stations shared her story. Suddenly, Divitto had thousands of cookie orders coming in from all over the country, so Golden Goose Market offered her a bigger kitchen to complete the orders. Divitto had to hire more people to keep up with the demand. Even today, Collettey’s Cookies continues to thrive!

Divitto didn’t just create Collettey’s Cookies to sell delicious baked goods. She has a larger mission to expand her business so that she can hire as many people with disabilities as possible. Currently, many of her employees have disabilities. Divitto also wants non-disabled business owners to see the strengths and talents of people with disabilities. The majority of people with disabilities who can work cannot find paying jobs. In 2020, the U.S. government reported that about 82% of people with disabilities who could work were not able to find paying jobs. Even when people with disabilities do get jobs, they are often paid less than the minimum wage. Divitto wants to change these statistics and laws. She wants to make sure people with disabilities get jobs that pay fairly.

Divitto turned her passion for baking into a thriving business that helps empower people in her community. What a success story!