Human Interest

Woman with Down syndrome becomes a business owner

Photo credit: Collettey's FB page

At a time when France is taking major steps to stomp down the humanity of people with Down syndrome, Collette Divitto is showing true beauty to the world. Collette has Down syndrome, but that hasn’t prevented her from becoming a homegrown success story. At the age of 26, Collette has already accomplished more than many do in a lifetime.

When Collette was rejected by potential employers after she applied for jobs, she came up with an even better idea: why not start her own business? Already, Collettey’s Cookies is a local sensation — accepting online delivery orders, gaining a spot on the shelves at Golden Goose Market, baking with “secret” recipes like any successful food enterprise, and advocating for individuals with disabilities. Collette herself is learning further business skills as a fellow with the Institute for Community Inclusion.

CBS Boston shared Collette with the world, telling her story just before Thanksgiving, 2016.

Collette’s mom nearly beams with pride as she discusses the entrepreneurship of her Millennial daughter, who, she explains, has found a way to walk through new doors when the typical ones are shut in her face. (And there’s certainly something to be said for Collette, who is a member of a generation generally accused of laziness and poor work ethic.)

According to her mother, Collette doesn’t see Collettey’s Cookies as a way to personal riches or personal success. Instead, her desire is to reach the world beyond herself. CBS Boston reports: “She’s never accepted her disability,” her mom said. “She’s kind of stepped into this role of trying to inspire and motivate other people.”

The owner of the Golden Goose Market — the local store that keeps Collette’s yummy creations on its shelves — has also seen the bright light this young lady shines on the world surrounding her. Owner Stephen DeAngelis explains that “we just kind of fell in love with her,” joking that Collette’s cookies are so delicious that he has to “chase the employees away because they want to eat them!”

Photo credit: Collettey's FB page

Collette bakes her “Amazing Cookie.” Photo credit: Collettey’s Facebook page.

DeAngelis isn’t the only one to fall in love with Collette’s can-do attitude, charismatic smile, and delicious baked treats, and Collette hopes that, in time, her work can catch fire across the nation. She tells a bit about her personal goals on the Collettey’s Cookies’ website:

[S]he moved to Boston and the locals fell in love with her, admired her ambition and offered her an account at the local market.

Collette’s latest goal is to land an account in a large market and hire other people with a disability, understanding that 76% are unemployed and so want desperately to have a job, earn money, and be a worthy part of a team. Collette’s long term dream is to supply her cookie to a store chain, open a baking location in every state, and hire thousands of people with a disability across the country.

One customer review from Collette’s site reads:

I told Collette that I was going to be completely honest with her after sampling her cookie, as I am a cookie fanatic.  I wanted to be able to add my 2 cents and give her advice.  My advice was  YOU NEED TO SELL THIS COOKIE!  WOWZA!

In addition to her most famous cookie – the “Amazing Cookie” with chocolate chips and cinnamon — Collette offers a healthy breakfast cookie with oats, craisins, almonds, and honey. If your mouth is watering, you can place your own order for Collettey’s Cookies here. They just might be the best Christmas gift of the year!

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