Woman With Down Syndrome Thrives as CEO of Her Own Cookie Company After Facing Job Rejections

BY Louise Chambers TIMEJuly 22, 2020 PRINT

Cookie queen Collette Divitto, who grew up in Ridgefield, Connecticut, knows firsthand what it feels like to be rejected after a job interview. Her baking company, Collettey’s Cookies, started after the 29-year-old, who has Down syndrome, struggled to find gainful employment. Rather than giving up, Collette took matters into her own hands and turned her passion into her profession.

Epoch Times Photo
Collette Divitto, owner of Collettey’s Cookies. (Courtesy of Rosemary Alfredo)

The Epoch Times spoke to Collette about her journey from a home baker to a bakery boss and beyond.

“I was inspired to start my own company because I could not find a paying job,” Collette explained. “The greatest challenge I faced when trying to find a job was that no one would hire me. I was always told I wasn’t a good fit.”

After attending Clemson University, and finishing a three-year LIFE program in just two years, Collette moved to Boston to look for paying jobs. The talented girl attended many interviews; however, she was sadly turned down.

In 2016, sick of rejection from potential employers, she turned to her favorite hobby of baking cookies for a possible solution.

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Rosemary Alfredo)

Becoming the Boss

According to her website, Collette had taken baking classes in high school and had even tested a variety of recipes, finally coming up with her own original cinnamon chocolate chip cookie that her near and dear ones relished. She had named that cookie the “Amazing Cookie,” as everyone who had tried the delicious cookie thought it was “amazing.”

Alluding to opening her own business venture, Collette told The Epoch Times: “I started [my] company by baking one of my famous cookies and bringing samples to my local market to see if they would sell my cookies.”

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Rosemary Alfredo)

Soon enough, a local market committed to stock her cookies at their shelves, so a triumphant Collette returned to her kitchen and upped the ante.

Just like that, Collettey’s Cookies was born.

Then with the help of her sister, Blake, news of Collette’s venture spread on social media. Collette secured the help of a number of local volunteers and even the use of the local market’s kitchen to bake her cookies in the evenings and on weekends. Not long after, orders began rolling in from multiple stores, according to a GoFundMe page.

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Rosemary Alfredo)

Soon, it became clear that Collette would need a larger commercial kitchen if she was going to meet the demand for her iconic Amazing Cookie, the recipe of which remains a closely guarded secret.


In December 2016, Collette’s mother, Rosemary Alfredo, started a GoFundMe page to help raise money for her daughter to open her own commercial kitchen. The new facility allows Collette and her team to make and bake up to 5,000 cookies per day and also has a big freezer, fridge, and 80-quart mixer.

Epoch Times Photo
Collette with her mother, Rosemary Alfredo. (Courtesy of Rosemary Alfredo)

Since then, Collettey’s Cookies has grown bigger, and the young woman continues to inspire those around her.

In October 2019, Collette was named a “GoFundMe Hero” for her efforts, having gone from strength to strength since the inauguration of her business.

As of May 2020, Collette has 13 employees, some of whom have disabilities of their own. “I interview each person,” Collette shared with The Epoch Times. “If I like them, I have them work as an intern with me.”

A Typical Day

A typical day in Collette’s life entails rising at 8:30 in the morning. “I have coffee,” she said, “and I walk to the kitchen. I work with my employees baking and shipping until about 1 o’clock.”

Epoch Times Photo
Collette with her team. (Courtesy of Rosemary Alfredo)

After a few hours of working in the kitchen, Collette takes a break to walk to the gym for an hour-long workout. Then, she returns home for lunch and a rejuvenating shower before moving on to her administrative duties.

“I work on my speeches and public speaking,” she said, adding that books, word searches, social media, and watching TV help her to unwind in what’s left of the evening.

Collette, who has been invited to give a speech to The United Nations in the past, currently has a lot of “big things going on.”

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Rosemary Alfredo)

“I have a nonprofit now, and I am teaching leadership classes. I have many speaking events next year and even a TV show!” she added.

Changing the World, One Cookie at a Time

Collette named her two favorite aspects of Collettey’s Cookies as being able to create jobs for people with disabilities and being the boss. However, despite the magnitude of her success, the talented baker has a few ambitions remaining: She wants to open new bakery locations, buy a house, learn how to drive, and “get a dog and a husband.”

When asked by The Epoch Times how her cookie company is changing the world, Collette replied, “It is run all by me and is successful, and most people do not expect that from someone with a disability. So it’s changing people’s minds.”

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Rosemary Alfredo)

“There are so many capable people like me that need a chance in life,” she said. “My message is that no matter who you are, you can make a difference in this world, and to never give up on your dreams.”

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Louise Chambers is a writer, born and raised in London, England. She covers inspiring news and human interest stories.
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