News

Woman with Down syndrome starts bakery, thousands of orders stream in

Posted December 19, 2016

BOSTON — When a Boston woman with special needs couldn’t find a job at a bakery, she decided to open her own. Now she’s working around the clock to fill tens of thousands of orders coming in from across the country.

Collette Divitto is happiest when she’s in the kitchen, according to CBS News. Five years ago, she began experimenting with different confections until she perfected her signature “Amazing” cookie — much to the pleasure of her friends and family.

“We kept telling her, ‘This is a really good cookie. You could sell this!’” Divitto’s mom, Rosemary Alfredo, told WBZ News.

Determined to work in the baking industry, the 26-year-old, who has Down syndrome, set out in search of a job, but things didn’t work out as she’d hoped, according to WBZ.

Instead of putting on an apron, Divitto was left to deal with rejection after rejection. While prospective employers acknowledged her skills, she was often told she wasn’t a good fit, according to her website.

“It’s very upsetting to me,” Divitto told WBZ. “It’s very hard to find a paying job for people like me who have special needs.”

Instead of giving up altogether, Divitto decided that if she couldn’t work in someone else’s bakery, she’d be the lead baker for her company. So she set up a website where she could take orders and purchased the tools and ingredients she needed to launch Collettey’s Cookies, WBZ reported.

Though it took a lot of hard work, Devitto’s cookies finally made it onto the shelves of Boston’s Golden Goose Market, WBZ reported.

“You know, we just kind of fell in love with her,” owner Stephen DeAngelis told WBZ. “We get great feedback… We have to chase the employees away because they want to eat them.”

Up until a few weeks ago, she was selling about 100 cookies a week, but that changed when WBZ ran her story.

In just over two weeks, 9.9 million people have viewed the original WBZ Facebook post with the link to the article. People were so inspired by Divitto’s story, she’s been swamped with orders for more than 50,000 cookies and counting, according to the Collettey’s Cookies website.

DeAngelis and the Golden Goose Market opened its kitchen to Divitto to help her fill orders, and she’s even received help from employees after hours, CBS reported.

Divitto said she’d also received over 65,000 messages from strangers all around the globe offering their love and support. Stores have offered to stock her cookies and investors have brought up potential growth opportunities, CBS reported.

“It’s been so uplifting to see the love and compassion across the world,” Alfredo said.

And while Divitto may never divulge her secret recipe, she did reveal the ingredient that makes her confections so special.

“It’s love,” she told CBS. “Always, always being love.”

Divitto set up a GoFundMe page to help her expand her dream. She hopes her business can become a safe haven for people with disabilities.

“Collette’s latest goal is to land an account in a large market and hire other people with a disability, understanding that 76 percent are unemployed and so want desperately to have a job, earn money and be a worthy part of a team,” the GoFundMe page reads.

Jessica Ivins is a content manager for KSL.com and contributor to the Motherhood Matters section.

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