Collette Divitto, Founder and CEO of Colletteys Cookie Corp., turned to her passion for baking as an outlet for disappointment. After two years of promising job interviews, Collette, who is now thirty-one, continued to find herself turned down for roles for not “being a great fit.” As a graduate of a Life program at Clemson University, Collette, who was born with Down syndrome, was frustrated at the challenges she was facing in a finding a role that provided her the career fulfillment and independence she was seeking.
Her time in the kitchen helped her perfect her recipes and helped Collette parlay her passion into purpose. After impressing her family, friends, and neighbors with her recipes, Collette decided to bring samples of her cookies to a local market. Within her first week she sold one hundred packages, and she has not stopped since. “I had no choice but to start a company if I wanted a full life and to earn a living and feel valued,” Collette shared. “That makes me very upset that I was forced to do it because most people did not give me a chance and saw me as disabled.”
Collette’s passion and perseverance paid off. After five years in business, Colletteys’ Cookie Corp employees fifteen people and is delivering tasty treats around the country. As she continues to scale, so does her focus and her mission on ensuring her company does good for others. She aims to create opportunities and mentorship for others struggling with the obstacles she faced.
“Showing that people that have a label that has to do with disability should not be assumed disable. I am proving to people how ABLE someone is that has a label.”Collette Divitto
Others can experience her commitment in action through her non-profit, Colletteys Leadership Org, which she opened in 2018. The organizations empowerment and training programs aim to help others with a labeled disability find friendship, career success, and community. Collette’s drive and mission to help others is inspired by her mom. “My Mom – she is amazing with people and has taught me to see each person individually, and to build a plan for success for each person – like she did for me.”
As much as passion and inspiration drives Collettey’s Cookies forward, she also recognizes the role technology and hard work plays in her success. As Collette looks ahead, she recognizes that technology will continue to play a significant role in how she can continue her mission to help others. “I love Dell computers! My Mom and I will only buy them because of the support that they offer and how helpful and professional they are. We also love that Dell checks our computers from time to time to make sure they are running great!”
And through DWEN and Dell Technologies Advisors, Collette stays connected to the resources and support she needs to continue her journey. What keeps Collette engaged in DWEN? “I trust Dell! I have had issues and DELL is there for me right away,” she shared. Access to Dell Tech Advisors support has helped Collette relax when frustrated or worried on what she needs help with in maintaining her technology. And technology will continue to take Collettey’s Cookies to more locations. Collette is ready to expand and is continuing to collaborate with her team and Dell Technologies to ensure she has the infrastructure and support in place to do so successfully.
“I trust Dell! I have had issues and DELL is there for me right away.”Collette Divitto
Collette is quick to acknowledge that the path she on has not been an easy one. “Many say how lucky I am to have my own business. And I am like WHAT??? Lucky? I worked and still work my —- off. It has been scary, I have spent nights not sleeping, and worried about paying bills. I must put my emotions aside at work every day and stay positive and motivating for others. That is not lucky!” But Collette’s perseverance keeps her going.
Collette shared she was surprised by how much she loved being an entrepreneur, but how challenging it could be. “I have been running the company on my own hiring and training employees, renting kitchen spaces, dealing with other people sharing the kitchen. My Mom does development and marketing. I like the control but sometimes I wish I had my own space to call my own.” And that is what she focuses on. Collette is ready for growth. In addition to her interest in more locations, she wants to build her own kitchen and continue to create jobs for people with struggles.
Collette’s advice to other DWEN members and entrepreneurs looking to begin their own company, “You are going to think about your company ALL the time. You will need to learn how to turn that off to stay fresh and clear.” And it is demanding. But as Collette proves, when committed to your passion, purpose, and your product you can cook up something special.
What is a non-work hobby you love?
MUSIC, concerts, going out for drinks and dinner, working out, hiking, cooking with friends, having sister night with Blake.
What is a book you’ve read that made the biggest impact on your business?
The book my mom published about raising me – The Best Life Possible for Your Child with Special Needs. When I read that and saw how much she did for me it inspired me to be the best I could be.
Your favorite kind of cookie?
I have to say my money maker The Amazing Cookie, which is my Chocolate Chip Cinnamon. My choice of a yummy snack is Ice Cream!