Local woman launches cookie business after repeatedly being denied jobs over disability

BOSTON — Special cookies from a special girl. After being turned down on more than a dozen job interviews because of her disability, a Boston woman decided to start her own business.

Thirty-two-year-old Collette Divitto is involved in every part of her company ‘Collettey’s Cookies’. But the road to becoming her own boss was not easy. Collette was born with Down Syndrome. She especially remembers her high school years being difficult.

“I had no friends,” said Collette Divitto. “I was bullied a lot.”

As an outlet, Collette started baking.

Collette’s mother Rosemary Alfredo moved her into elective classes so instead of dealing with her disability, teachers could recognize her abilities.

“It was kind of one of those things that it wasn’t really on the road of what Collette was working on, and I kind of threw her in it for the skills and that she could get that I wasn’t able to teach her and wallah, a cookie monster was born!” said Rosemary Alfredo, Collette’s mother.

After graduating college, Collette moved to Boston and went on countless job interviews, but was always told---

“We feel that I am not a good fit,” said Collette.

Collette went back to the kitchen and did what she knew how to do best---bake her ‘Amazing’ cinnamon chocolate chip cookies. She brought them to a market in the North End. They loved them so much they immediately ordered more---and with the help of her mom, Collettey’s cookies was born.

“We need to do all these things, but I’m not doing them myself,” Rosemary told Collette. “If you really want this, we’re going to sit down every day until this is done.”

“She can be very tough on me, but that’s what moms are for,” said Collette.

“I walked her through all the steps and she did everything,” said Rosemary.

Collette first started selling her cookies online, either in packages or in gift boxes for special occasions. But most recently, she started selling her cookies in over 1,000 stores across the country.

“I love being my own boss,” said Collette.

Collette hires others with disabilities so they too can earn money and live independently like her. Collette also started a non-profit that provides workshops, training and leadership for those with or without disabilities. And she speaks all over the country motivating and inspiring others--sharing the message you can be successful no matter how many times someone else says no.

“I honestly think that’s maybe why God put her on this earth was trying to raise the bar for people to think out of the box, for teachers to raise the ceilings for these kids and for employers to start thinking about really open not just talking about inclusion, but really opening their doors and hiring people with disabilities,” said Rosemary.

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