Mix­ing in­spir­ing words with fash­ion

Eu­dai­mo­nia, apra­mada, mer­aki: Water­loo-based Speech­lust pairs in­spir­ing words with fash­ion


What’s the per­fect word to de­scribe your per­son­al­ity or state of mind? Courtney Chilton has a few sug­ges­tions to in­spire you.

Chilton, 25, searches the world for words to in­cor­po­rate into her jew­elry com­pany, named Speech­lust. She be­lieves in the power of words to trans­form.

“I’ve found a lot of com­fort in things like quotes and song lyrics,” she said, show­ing me around her uptown Water­loo condo, where she has cre­ated an airy, bright work stu­dio.

We are sur­rounded by phrases, care­fully cho­sen and placed on walls and on her re­frig­er­a­tor. Some are words from dif­fer­ent cul­tures, de­fined on “def­i­ni­tion” cards she keeps in stacks.

Many words sound ex­otic, such as apra­mada (a moral watch­ful­ness and aware­ness of the eth­i­cal im­pli­ca­tions of one’s ac­tions), nemophilist (a haunter of the woods, who loves the for­est, its beauty and soli­tude) and bo­heme (a cre­ative, in­di­vid­u­al­is­tic per­son who’s pas­sion­ate about liv­ing un­con­ven­tion­ally and op­posed to or­di­nary).

Chilton de­scribes her on­line busi­ness as a jew­elry com­pany that uses unique words to re­mind in­di­vid­u­als of their core be­liefs, as­pi­ra­tions and favourite mem­o­ries. She col­lects words she hopes will res­onate. She looks for life-af­firm­ing thoughts and con­cepts peo­ple can eas­ily carry with them.

She re­mem­bers a phi­los­o­phy class she at­tended while study­ing lit­er­a­ture at Dal­housie Univer­sity. That’s where she first

heard the word eu­dai­mo­nia.

“We were learn­ing about the mean­ing of virtue,” Chilton re­calls. “It’s a Greek word that means human flour­ish­ing as a result of liv­ing a vir­tu­ous life. Its mean­ing mo­ti­vates me ev­ery day. I just thought the whole idea is beau­ti­ful and I just wanted the word with me all the time.”

She con­tem­plated a tat­too, but that was too per­ma­nent.

“Life changes and I didn’t know if the word would speak to me later. So, when I was trav­el­ling in south­east Asia and came across a jew­elry mar­ket, it just seemed like the per­fect way to carry the word with me but not have it for­ever.”

She had a neck­lace cre­ated with eu­dai­mo­nia on it. She fol­lowed it up with a bracelet fea­tur­ing fer­n­weh (a feel­ing of home­sick­ness for dis­tant places and the un­ex­plored). Friends and ac­quain­tances loved the jew­elry. Chilton sensed she was on to some­thing. She came up with the com­pany name in her mom’s base­ment, sur­rounded by white­boards filled with words.

“I truly just wrote down a thou­sand words that had to do with what I wanted the brand to be about and what my mis­sion was about. I re­ally fell in love with the de­sire of us­ing words to cre­ate change and have power in your life and that’s where the lust part came in; speech is all about the words.”

Chilton de­signed the logo. Two tri­an­gles in­ter­sect, the top one to tran­scend and the bot­tom one rep­re­sent­ing ex­plo­ration.

“I thought it was re­ally beau­ti­ful to sim­ply think of push­ing our­selves through all the bar­ri­ers that we per­ceive in our life and to ex­plore dif­fer­ent ar­eas to grow.”

This en­ter­pris­ing mil­len­nial had lots of cre­ative en­ergy for de­sign but no busi­ness education or ex­pe­ri­ence. Luck­ily, she knows an ex­pert — her fa­ther, David Chilton, au­thor of the pop­u­lar Wealthy Bar­ber books and a for­mer pan­elist on the Dragons’ Den tele­vi­sion show.

“He was the first per­son I went to with the idea. I had worked for him for a cou­ple sum­mers do­ing his due dili­gence for Dragons’ Den and it was amaz­ing prac­tice for this,” she says. “I thought he would kind

of brush it off, but he was re­ally into it. That got me so ex­cited about en­trepreneur­ship and he’s been a saint since. I re­ally couldn’t have a bet­ter men­tor.”

She laughs in say­ing that she ac­cepts his busi­ness ad­vice more read­ily than per­sonal guid­ance.

“I’m a very cre­ative per­son and that’s where my ge­nius is, think­ing of the de­signs and the brand­ing and hav­ing all the things that I want to say and the copy. But he’s re­ally good at telling me where I should go in the busi­ness sense. He’s kind of like the left side to my right-side brain.”

Her fa­ther wears one of her neck­laces, even when golf­ing. His word? Sangfroid. It’s French and it means com­po­sure and cool­ness shown even un­der in­tense stress and pressure.

The young de­signer likes sim­ple, ver­sa­tile cre­ations. There are un­em­bel­lished dog­tags and more com­pli­cated pieces with bead­ing and dif­fer­ent met­als. They work with a ca­sual or dressy style.

Speech­lust re­cently launched a men’s line. A cus­tom add-on lets cus­tomers per­son­al­ize a piece with their own words, or ini­tials that are mean­ing­ful to them.

“I ab­so­lutely love how some women will buy moth­er­hood words and then put the ini­tials of their chil­dren on the back. Some peo­ple will buy travel words and put the co­or­di­nates of some­where they trav­elled to. It’s re­ally fun see­ing how cre­ative the cus­tomers are get­ting with this new fea­ture.”

On the day we meet, Chilton is wear­ing a neck­lace with the word eu­noia (pos­i­tive think­ing grow­ing from a healthy frame of mind). Her per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence in­spired her to choose words that will help oth­ers.

“The line that is most im­por­tant to me is our em­pow­er­ment line. It deals with chal­lenges that a lot of women like me seem to be faced with. I’ve had very bad health is­sues my en­tire life with anx­i­ety and de­pres­sion. That’s why I find these words so im­por­tant,” she says.

“I re­ally would like to fo­cus more on that as­pect of the com­pany and cre­ate a com­mu­nity around it. I have so many cus­tomers who seem to be deal­ing with a lot of sim­i­lar is­sues and I would like to cre­ate a con­ver­sa­tion be­cause our com­pany is all about the words. Fo­cus­ing more on that line is a re­ally big goal for me.”

Chilton loves to hear from her cus­tomers. Some have sug­gested de­sign-wor­thy words. She has had a few re­quests for hygge, a Dan­ish word that em­bod­ies a life­style of co­zi­ness. It might ap­pear in the fall line.

I asked Chilton to sug­gest a word to cap­ture the spirit of Water­loo Re­gion.

“I love the word mer­aki for this re­gion. It means to put your soul, heart and pas­sion into a project, thereby leav­ing your­self in the work. I think that this is such a pas­sion­ate com­mu­nity, but it’s a very hum­ble place with a lot of tal­ent. I think we are very lucky that we have this com­mu­nity that will trade their talents to help one an­other be­cause that doesn’t hap­pen ev­ery­where.”

Chilton loves to travel but has in­ter­rupted her wan­der­lust for now.

“I re­ally want to go to Morocco. I’m pretty fo­cused on do­ing that in the next four years. I love the colours and the scents. I feel like I haven’t seen a picture yet that hasn’t been beau­ti­ful in the ar­eas that peo­ple seem to go.”

Her im­me­di­ate fo­cus is on her busi­ness and on en­cour­ag­ing young women to launch their dreams.

“I feel ex­tremely lucky to be a young, fe­male en­tre­pre­neur in this com­mu­nity. Start­ing out on your own can be tough. No one can fully ex­plain ahead of time the needed change in life­style, the fi­nan­cial in­sta­bil­ity and the gen­eral sense of con­fu­sion that you must en­dure dur­ing the launch of your busi­ness. Noth­ing goes smoothly,” Chilton says.

But liv­ing in Water­loo Re­gion can be heart­en­ing, as oth­ers in­no­vate and grow around you.

“With this year’s women’s marches, the en­thu­si­asm around ‘girl bosses’ and all of the new fe­male-run lo­cal busi­nesses, there can’t be a bet­ter time and more ideal com­mu­nity for fe­males con­tem­plat­ing go­ing off on their own,” Chilton says.

There may not be a word for that yet. Bet on Chilton to find it.

A Speech­lust neck­lace fea­tur­ing the word Er­leb­nis (to live fully, ex­pe­ri­enc­ing life deeply and in­tensely in the here and the now).

Row upon row of “def­i­ni­tion cards.” They pro­vide in­for­ma­tion about the in­spi­ra­tional words on the jew­elry de­signed by Chilton. Speech­lust jew­elry dis­played in Chilton’s home. It was wan­der­lust that led Chilton to put her favourite word on a piece of jew­elry and even­tu­ally start her own busi­ness. Chilton’s home stu­dio has space for her to cre­ate and ex­per­i­ment. Her de­signs are sim­ple and will work with ca­sual or dressier styles.

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