My name is Collette. I am 27 years old and was born with Down Syndrome. I started this company in 2011 after finding my passion for baking. Through many trials of recipes, I came up with my two original cookies, the "Amazing Cookie" and the "Healthy Breakfast Cookie". I first began this company because I loved to bake and it was a fun hobby that I could make some money doing. As I got older and after graduating from a LIFE program at Clemson University I spent 3 years trying to find a job. I went on many interviews and thought I did very well in the interview. But days later I would get an email always saying the same thing " we enjoyed meeting you Collette, but we don't think you are a good fit for our company right now". I knew what that meant. They did not want me because of my disability. It was very confusing because to keep busy I had volunteer jobs and was asked to work full time. After proving myself for almost a year, I asked if I could receive pay, and they told me they didn't need me anymore.
After so many people telling me no, I decided to focus on my cookie company since that's what I always loved doing. I brought them to a local market in Boston to sell them and offered my online website.
"I was not only determined to show everyone how capable people with (dis)abilities are, but my mission is to open production facilities across the country and employ thousands of (dis)abled people! ONLY 17.5% people with disabilities were employed in 2015." Most people with disabilities live on poverty level.
My story was picked up by CBS local Boston, and aired as a "feel good" story for the holidays. Well it became more than that!! Within days, I had over 37.6m views on FB, and over 160,000 cookies ordered. I have received over 65,000 letters from people all over the world within 10 days, admiring my determination and ambition and finding my inspirational offering giving them hope. The letters have such incredible stories and shared personal experiences. I also received over 100 letters from people from all over offering their skills and services as a gift to help me.
I am being featured on CBS Nightly News and Good Morning America. I have been interviewed by Self Magazine, Boston Food Journal, local Universities, Canadian Radio Station, Pop Sugar, and the list continues daily. I have been told I am causing a Global Movement for people with disabilities! My plan moving forward is to increase production and build my professional team at a kitchen in the Commonwealth in Boston:
Phase I. To Scale up my company in a new facility to meet the demands of a new contract by one of the largest market chains in the United States. They have over 2300 markets in the US and have chosen my initiative as their social responsibility goal.
Phase II. I am already in discussion to replicate this first phase across the country in different states, so I can offer employment to thousands of people with (dis)abilities.
Here in Boston I have already begun hiring and training people with labeled "disabilities"!!!!
If you would like to help me create jobs for people with disabilities and grow my company, you can help by contributing to my iFundWomen Campaign to help with my first facility and beyond!