Collettey’s Cookies: Ridgefield grad starts global movement
Love and a little bit of cinnamon.
That’s all Collette Divitto is willing to share about her secret cookie recipe that’s garnered her more than 4,000 daily orders.
Collette, a 26-year-old woman with Down syndrome, has been busy growing her company, Collettey’s Cookies, in Boston.
Originally from Ridgefield, she and her family moved to Boston because of the opportunities Massachusetts offered people with disabilities.
“If not the best, it is one of the best states for people with disabilities,” said her sister Blake Divitto. “In regard to funding, social programs, and everything –– it’s phenomenal.”
Collette, who has been baking cookies for sale since 2009, plans to shift the focus onto people’s abilities.
“If you are inspired by me, have confidence in your abilities,” she said, “not your disabilities.”
After several job interviews that were followed by negative responses, she decided to take matters into her own kitchen.
“Each time she came home she thought she got the job,” said her mother, Rosemary Alfredo.
“Then she would get an email saying she was so great but not a good fit, so Collette decided to make her own business and make her own money.”
A CBS news feature in Boston last month helped grow Collettey’s Cookies into a global production.
In the three weeks that followed the story, Collette found herself with thousands of orders –– much more than her original 100 cookies per week at a single Boston market.
To help with mass production, her mother and sister stepped in.
Rosemary said that bossing her sister and mother around is probably one of Collette’s favorite parts of her growing business.
“I have to say, from the bottom of my heart, that having my mom and my sister by my side supporting this company makes me feel really inspired by them,” she said. “That is my favorite part.”
The increased orders left the three women baking early into the morning, so Collette decided it was time for expansion.
She hired nine new people — all with special needs — and plans to keep hiring with business getting busier.
“She’s got a list of kids she’s going to interview who haven’t found a job yet,” Rosemary said. “She’ll start to bring in kids with disabilities that are just as capable. We have a list of companies and organizations that want to build a vocational program with us.”
While the company currently bakes out of the CommonWealth Kitchen, Collettey’s Cookies will soon be popping up in other locations across the United States, Rosemary said.
A worthy fight
Breaking barriers is not a first for Collette.
She was a cheerleader for Ridgefield High School, something she still enjoys in Massachusetts.
“I fought for Collette through high school and middle school like crazy,” said Rosemary.
“I had to keep pounding and pounding into the teachers’ heads that she has a lot of abilities and to not put her in a box.”
It was worth it.
“We’re at this point where the entire world is going, ‘Wow,’” said her mom. “The path that Collette is creating and the door that she’s opening is amazing for the rest of the kids to follow.”
Articles about her have been published in France, Nigeria, Australia, even China.
She’s inspired people from all walks of life, who send her thousands of letters each day from everywhere in the world.
“A lot of them have no connection to disability,” said Rosemary. “And they’re saying, ‘Collette, you have more confidence than me. If you can do it, then I can do it.’”
As for Collette, she hopes her cookies send a simple message.
“Don’t let other people bring you down and never ever ever ever give up on your dream.”
For updates and more information, visit the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/colletteyscookies/