Skip to content

Entrepreneur fast-tracks business growth through bank program

'I started to think what ways can we make it easier for busy parents to connect with their kids,' says entrepreneur
Tarila Morrone launched Hearts of Gems to help families connect in a fun way.

Tarila Morrone is shifting gears as she takes her business, Hearts of Gems, to the next level.

The e-commerce enterprise designs products to help parents interact with their children, supporting their child's mental well-being. The idea, says the Bradford resident, is creating mindful parenting strategies through simple, joyful, and effective products and resources for nurturing children's emotional health and confidence.

The products are designed to integrate into daily life, fostering positive parenting, emotional intelligence, and healthy family relationships. The products include Conversation Cards, Lunch Box Notes and the Family Digital Detox kit which contains five different decks that encourages families to unplug.

Morrone, who has a Masters degree in public and international affairs from the University of Ottawa, decided to change her career focus when she became a mother.

“During my first mat leave I knew I wanted to do something else, I did not want to return to my 9 to 5,” she explained.

She started with a party supply business on Etsy. The COVID-19 pandemic and social isolating rules brought an abrupt end to that. During that period, she found the opportunity to better connect with her daughters, who were two years old and four months at the time.

And she watched them thrive. She found as she shared her parenting journey, she struck a chord with others, who began asking her questions. Her interest in child development grew.

“I started to think what ways can we make it easier for busy parents to connect with their kids,” she said.

And she keyed in on conversation cards to create a product with a message as a way to advocate for children’s mental wellness, launching Hearts of Gems at the beginning of 2023.

As she developed her business, she discovered RBC's Black Entrepreneur program, designed to help entrepreneurs start their businesses and support their growth. In addition to a loan, she has access to an external website containing resources and tools. She’s also taken advantage of its Champion Network which has advisors available to program participants.

Morrone was even able to participate in a G20 summit in India, connecting with other entrepreneurs who shared their experiences.

“We have advisors, products and solutions … we thought it important for us to put a specific program together for black entrepreneurs to increase their success and increase black entrepreneurship,” says Tyson Jones, regional vice-president of commercial financial services at RBC.

The program is meant for aspiring entrepreneurs aged 18 to 39, providing up to $60,000 in capital, plus a mentor to “be a sounding board who can help them increase their success,” he adds.

To date, $14.5 million in loans has been distributed through the Black Entrepreneur Business Loan and the Black Entrepreneur Startup program. RBC says the program has facilitated over 8,000 interactions with Black entrepreneurs and clients, providing them with advice, resources and mentorship opportunities through RBC’s partner organizations and local events.

But Morrone’s relationship with the bank is more that. It’s a bid of confidence and support from the community, she says, a sense that she’s not alone in her venture.

“With that loan I’ve been able to expand the business and grow in a way I probably wouldn’t have been able to in that amount of time,” she says.

The program allows her to connect with other entrepreneurs and share their experiences.

“It’s definitely not just about the loan … along the way you get other doors open to you," she said.

Hearts of Gems has built a network of 80,000 social media followers in a year. It now ships to 16 countries through its online platform, but the products are also available at some stores.

“My hope is to, within the next year, to have full-time hires” adding to the current part-time employee as she further develops her business, says Morrone.

“I want to create global impact.”