After trying to find a job for two years and getting turned down time and again by local employers, Collette Divitto, decided to create her own job by starting her own small baking business based on one original, top-secret cookie recipe.
Apparently, it’s a pretty good recipe, because today, Divitto is the one doing the hiring.
“It’s very upsetting to me. It’s very hard to find a paying job for people like me who have special needs.” Divitto, the 26-year-old founder of Collettey’s Cookies in Boston, said in a recent interview with MSNBC’s Your Business.
Collette always had a passion for baking. In high school, she took several cooking classes to fine tune her skills, after which she started sharing her talents with her family and friends. Her mother, Rosemary Alfredo, started to encourage her to turn her talent into a business.
“We kept telling her, ‘This is a really good cookie. You could sell this!’’’ Alfredo told CBS.
With the help of the Institute of Community Inclusion, Divitto was able to obtain funding to start Collettey’s Cookies. Through her website, she fields online delivery orders, and due to her product’s popularity, she was able to convince the managers of a local food store, Golden Goose Market, to start carrying small batches on their shelves.
“You know we just kind of fell in love with her,” Golden Goose Market Owner Stephen DeAngelis told CBS. “We get great feedback.”
When demand starting increasing quickly, Divitto actually moved her production into the onsite kitchen at the market, allowing her to bake enough cookies to keep pace.
It turns out, there’s just one problem having Divitto baking all her treats at the store. “We have to chase the employees away because they want to eat them,” DeAngelis said.
After garnering a little press early this year, what started as a “feel good” story around the holidays has ballooned into a thriving business with more than 60,000 order requests — and Collette is not stopping there.
“Collette has always refused to acknowledge her disability,” her mother said in an interview with CBS. ”When doors have closed for her, she has found a way around them or she has found another door to open that might even be a better path for her.”
Divitto’s next goal is to find an investor to help her expand the business nationwide, “To have a big business is my dream,” says Collette.
However, expansion is not about financial gain for this inspiring entrepreneur. Instead, it’s all about having the chance to create jobs for other individuals with disabilities, who may have run into the same challenges she faced when searching for opportunities.
“I want to help more people with disabilities, Divitto said. “It would be a great feeling to hire them.”