Collettey’s Cookies: The Taste of Sweet Success

Colletty's Cookies

From Down Syndrome WorldTM 2022 Issue 2 of 4, written by Emmy Award winner Hanna Atkinson

The Taste of Sweet Success

This article was published in the award-winning Down Syndrome World™ magazine. Become a member to read all the articles and get future issues delivered to your door!

What does success look like?

Let me introduce Collette Divitto, the talented chef and owner of the business she named after her skills, Collettey’s Cookies. Ironically, her idea for the business came after many job interviews and rejection letters. “I was tired of waiting on someone else to make my dreams happen, so I decided I’d make them happen for myself,” says the outstanding 31-year-old entrepreneur.

Collette has always loved baking.  In fact, she started creating her masterpieces at the young age of four. Through the years, she tweaked the recipes based on her family’s feedback until eventually she had it down to a science. As her cookies were gaining popularity amongst friends and family, Collette decided to try to sell them for the first time.

When she was in high school, Collette would bake healthy breakfast cookies and sell them in front of local gyms and stores. Her after school gig was small, but successful. “I’ve always been a hard worker, but when I was making my own money working hard, that felt really cool. I wanted to explore that more,” says Collette, who then closed down her cookie business in pursuit of college. She completed a 3-year program at Clemson University with a concentration on food and nutrition. While studying what she’s passionate about, she made sure to make time for all the other excitement that college life had to offer including making new friends, shopping, enjoying apartment life, and going to sports games and concerts, job responsibilities and bills. Collette’s college experience empowered her to feel confident in her independence – she was managing her own school and work schedule, paying her own bills, living on her own, and not relying on her parents.

Eager to apply her expanded culinary knowledge, Collette was disappointed when the traditional post-college job market did not reward her talents and experience with a great job. With the support of her mother, Rosemary, Collette started her own business, Collettey’s Cookies. 

“I told Collette that because she’s an adult now, this business venture would need to be more sophisticated than her high school gig,” says Rosemary. “It was important for Collette to learn the whole business ownership process ,including registering the business, doing invoices, and lining up suppliers. She did a great job compiling research and figuring out everything that needed to be done.” And no, Rosemary did not need to teach Collette how to bake – that one is Collette’s specialty! 

Running the Kitchen

As a business owner, Collette has a really busy schedule. She runs team meetings daily, where she outlines the team production goals and discusses each employee’s responsibilities. Collette is an expert at cookie preparation; her method ensures every batch of cookies turn out perfectly every time. Collette is passionate about providing thorough training to her employees and she loves giving cooking demonstrations. But the crew makes sure to have fun too! There’s a lot of laughing and smiling happening in the kitchen as they work.”

“I try to create a work environment that helps employees succeed. I encourage them to work hard and be happy.”

A key ingredient of Collette’s managerial style is providing strong support for her team. She is proud that her business hires people with special abilities and promotes the positivity of inclusion. Collette fights for these ideas, including traveling to Washington, D.C. to participate in government advocacy for fair employment policies like proper wages.  

Collette welcomes her peers to join with her and encourages them to develop their personal skills. She developed Collettey’s Leadership Program that offers educational workshops on topics ranging from success in school to becoming an entrepreneur.

“Collete is a strong leader because she shares her real experiences with failure and success in hopes that her lessons will help others learn and grow,” says Rosemary. “It’s awesome to watch how people take notice when she begins to talk. They trust her insight, knowing her intentions are good and that she is seeking everyone’s best interest.”  

Collette writes about her personal and professional struggles and how she dealt with them in her new book, “Collette in Kindergarten” which recently hit the shelves. The book is the first for an intended series of books that provide her unique perception growing up as a person with Down syndrome. Collette hopes each book will be helpful and positive. Her skills and determination were noticed and are spotlighted in the docuseries called “Born for Business” streaming on Peacock and CRAVE.

Despite Collette’s incredibly packed work schedule, she tries to make time for other hobbies she enjoys like travelling, swimming, tennis, watching movies and sports and evenings out with friends. Collette prioritizes time with family including her sister, Blake Ashley, and her brother, Steele. Rosemary says that they are a close-knit family and are very proud of Collette. When asked what Collette’s greatest strength is, Rosemary quickly said “confidence.”

To which Collette responded with this powerful statement: “No matter who you are, you can make a difference in the world.” Collette is a visionary using her success to impact lives. Now that is truly sweet success.

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