News Release Archive

-----------------------------------------------------------------Success is in the cards for Alex Hilton -- greeting cards, that
is. The 16-year-old Digby native started his own greeting card
business, called Shade of a Tree, this summer using prints of his
father's paintings.    

Mr. Hilton's father, Jonathan Hilton, has been painting since
being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis about 16 years ago. The
elder Hilton has since lost the use of the right side of his body
and now paints attractive pictures of rural Nova Scotia life with
his left hand. 

Alex Hilton said his mother came up with the greeting card idea a
long time ago. "She planted the seed in my head, and I said,
 Let's go with it.'"

However, he knew he would need some financial capital to market
his cards to gift shops and souvenir stores throughout Nova

Having a strong business background, his mother was familiar with
the Youth Entrepreneurial Skills (YES) loan program, an
initiative of Nova Scotia Economic Development and Tourism. She
encouraged her son to tap into it. "She knows the ropes of the
trade; she's my mentor," he said. 
With the help of a $3,000 loan, Mr. Hilton was able to take the
next steps toward turning his father's creations into all-purpose
greeting cards. "We had to pick out the pictures, go to the
printer, get the prints scanned, folded and cut. The loan is what
made my business possible."

Mr. Hilton has recruited the help of his 12-year-old sister and a
few of her friends in packaging the cards. "The living room has
become the assembly room because we package everything
ourselves," he said. "I pay them for helping out. A business has
to pay its employees."

Marketing his product throughout the Maritimes has been Mr.
Hilton's primary objective this summer. Having travelled
throughout most of Nova Scotia, he said he has had about an 85
per cent success rate with the businesses he has visited. 

"A few of the shop owners are saying they'll give the cards a try
since I'm a youth entrepreneur," he said. "Most businesses are
telling me that they love the cards and love what I'm doing, but
since it's so late in the season, to come back to them next year
and they'll take me on."

Mr. Hilton plans to continue his business next summer, marketing
his cards throughout the coming year at various wholesale shows. 
"Next year will be a whole lot easier. This is my startup year,
and I have to drive around and sell my product. Next year it will
be to deliver my product."

Mr. Hilton has always been interested in starting his own
business, and his true passion lies in mechanics. However, he
said he won't be giving up on greeting cards any time soon. "If
later on I decide that it's not for me, my sister is four years
younger than I, so she can keep it going for a long time," he
said. "If this works out, I could have a business for life."

Some of the proceeds from the sale of the cards go toward
furthering the work of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada.

As he heads back to Digby Regional High School for Grade 10, Mr.
Hilton is already looking forward to taking the Entrepreneurship
12 course in two years. He said he anticipates learning more
about running a business and is confident he will be able to
offer his input, and experience, to the class.

The YES program provides loans to full-time students between the
ages of 16 and 29 who wish to set up and operate their own summer
business. It helps participants prepare a business plan and
provides business counselling and training. Eligible students can
obtain loans of up to $5,000.

Contact: Angela Campbell
         Economic Development and Tourism

NOTE TO EDITORS: Colour photos available upon request.

jlw                         Sept.4, 1997         11:55 a.m.