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What This Entrepreneur Learned From Her "Dragon" Father

Written by Kelley Keehn

Friday, November 10th, 2017

I was first introduced to Courtney Chilton when I saw a tweet from my friend and long-time mentor, David Chilton. I headed over to her website, Speechlust, and was instantly intrigued. Her site speaks to a word she holds dear from Aristotle: eudaimonia. It means to live well and do well.

She's even tattooed it on her wrist as a reminder of the philosopher's wisdom, later engraving it on a piece of jewelry that inspired her to start her own company. Courtney has a zest for life, and her quest to build a more beautiful world with the jewelry she creates is a reflection of that.

Courtney also had the good fortune to learn from her famous father David, and she's taken his lessons to heart. Her dad is the best-selling author of the Wealthy Barber, a former Dragon on CBC's hit TV show, The Dragon's Den and an investor in all things cool and innovative.

Early Business Lessons from Dad

"When I decided that I was going to be an entrepreneur, my dad did a really good job of explaining to me the initial sacrifices you have to make, especially financially. I did move home, but that wasn't enough. I had to become extremely comfortable in saying 'No, I can't afford this,'" Courtney says.

"This was a great lesson in business, because retail goes through high and low seasons. Practicing restraint during the high seasons can make the lower months much more comfortable. It also started becoming easier in my personal life. It taught me to really evaluate how I was spending my money."

Is It Hard to Follow the Wealthy Barber's Advice?

"In your 20s, everyone is at very different stages in life. When you decide to go off on your own and the rest of your friends are in jobs with secure salaries, it can be tough to remember that it's best to leave the money in your business for future marketing and growth opportunities," Courtney says.

"During my first holiday season, I was so excited to see a spike in my sales and there was a big temptation to join my friends in upcoming trips. Thankfully I listened to my dad and left the money in my account. I was able to test out several different marketing initiatives that led me to learn a lot more about my customer base. Although the trips seemed much more thrilling, it was all that testing that led me to have even more success when the next gift season came around."

Most Important Advice She's Received from Her Father?

"The one thing my dad has always emphasized to us is the importance of not being stuff-oriented. I can admit that I love shopping, but when it comes to labels, I'm just as happy with a vintage pair of jeans from a thrift store than pricier pieces from the mall," she says.

"My dad also always talked to us about avoiding as much debt as possible. This gave me a very healthy fear of debt. It's something that gives me a lot of stress, and I know that about myself, so that stops me from the temptations of taking a little extra on to have some temporary freedom. He always struck a really great balance in showing us that money isn't the key to happiness, but debt always hangs over you."

Her Experience as a Young Entrepreneur

"Being an entrepreneur has been the best learning experience I could have ever asked for," she says.

"Yes, it's a wild ride of ups and downs, but I'm a creative person, so I feel really blessed to be able to wake up and design in my own flow without any guidelines or restrictions. I still get excited over every single sale, because it's such an amazing feeling to put something into the world and have people decide that it's worth it for them to spend their hard-earned money on it."

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