Arlene Dickinson is a Canadian woman entrepreneur, businesswoman, venture capitalist, accomplished public speaker, author, and television personality. Arlene is a self-made multi-millionaire who did not allow her background and devastating divorce to stop her from achieving her life goals.
Arlene is worth an estimate of $100 million. Her earnings are from bestselling books, capital ventures portfolios on small and medium-scale enterprises, TV appearances, and her marketing communication ventures.
Arlene joined the Dragons Den panel after receiving top honorary awards such as Calgary Business Owner of the Year and PROFIT Magazine’s Top 100 Women Business Owners. Television producer Mike Armitage found her for the show. Having lost her children’s custody, Arlene was unemployed, divorced but did not suck; instead, enthusiasm propelled her to become financially stable and gain back control of her children. This article walks you through the life of Arlene Dickinson – her net worth, age, business venture, dragons’ den, and children.
Early life and education
Arlene Dickinson was born on 8 October 1956 in the suburb of Germiston, South Africa. She has two elder sisters before her family immigrated to Canada in 1959 with only $50 as their life savings. Arlene was three when her family moved to Canada and settled in Calgary. Arlene explained she was scared on the flight to Canada that she talked to her imaginary friend called Bilah. This act made her parents feel she is different from the rest of their daughters. Arlene’s father’s Ph.D. in education was irrelevant as he found himself working as an electrician upon landing in Canada. The family struggled financially, which eventually led to her parents’ divorce when she was 13 years old. They made her high school life miserable as she was the only child from a broken home in her class.
Arlene graduated from high school in Calgary at age 16 and decided against continuing her education. Her dad being an educationist, felt disappointed in her choice, but she was ready to work and earn. At 19, she married her best friend’s brother, and within a couple of years, they had four children. During this period, Arlene worked as a debt collector, grew and canned vegetables to support her family because her husband decided to go back to school to become a teacher. It was a difficult period for Arlene. She felt exhausted in the marriage, they moved out of Calgary and built a house in Carstairs as they could not afford a place in the big city; she even acted as a contractor in the course of building the house. Arlene felt unloved in the marriage and wasn’t confident in her looks. Coming from a Mormon religious background, she doubted if she lived up to the standard expected of her as a Mormon, mostly because of how her husband treated her with all her commitment to the marriage.
All these resulted in her having an affair with a man who could stop, listen, and be kind to her, which she lacked in her marriage. Unfortunately, her husband found out and filed for divorce. It is her life’s turning point that changed her life probably for good. At 31, she was divorced, lost custody of her children, and was excommunicated by the Mormon Church. She was devastated as women always got custody of their children after divorce. The court that she could not have her children until she proves that she had the financial capacity to support a family.
Arlene got a job with Calgary Television but couldn’t hold onto the job and lost it a few months later. However, she was in luck as a former colleague offered her a partner role in his marketing firm – Venture Communications Ltd. This was in 1988. Arlene embraced her new position with passion with no education even though she was not placed on salary or wages because of her role. She worked tirelessly for long hours and even weekends for the growth of the business. When asked how she did it, she said she learned how to be persuasive without being aggressive and convinced key people to back her and give her a chance.
Within a decade, her hard work manifested, and she became the sole owner of the venture by buying out her two partners in 1998. She was able to do this through bank loans and company cash. Today, Venture Communication Ltd has become one of the top largest Canadian independent marketing agencies with Calgary, Ottawa, and Toronto offices.
Arlene Dickinson other Businesses
Success with Venture Communications Ltd opened Arlene’s eyes to other ventures. In 2012, Arlene launched Arlene Dickinson Enterprises. The firm targets to fund small and medium-sized Canada’s entrepreneurial businesses and has gone ahead to invest in companies such as Urban Cultivators and Balzac’s Coffee Roasters. Arlene Dickinson Enterprises gave birth to YouInc.com, a social website that provides a platform for entrepreneurs to engage in discussion forums and share tips to grow and assist one another.
In 2015, Arlene Dickinson founded District Ventures Capital. A venture capital fund aimed at helping market, fund, and grow entrepreneurs in the food and health space. She joined the board of directors of Aphria the following year. Aphria is a Toronto based producer of medical marijuana, and District Ventures launched District Ventures Kitchen in 2019. District Ventures Kitchen is a non-profit food incubator that helps entrepreneurs commercialize food innovation and offer support and mentorship programs.
Dragons’ Den and Arlene Dickinson
Arlene Dickinson’s success story drew the attention of television producer Mike Armitage in 2007, who was scouting new talents for CBC’s ‘Dragons’ Den’ reality show. Dragons’ Den is a reality TV show where entrepreneurs showcase their businesses to a panel of investors known as ‘Dragons.’ The latter decide whether the ideas or business is worth their Cent. She starred in the second season of the show in 2007 and was a panelist until she took a brief hiatus in 2015. Arlene returned to the panel in 2017 for the show’s twelfth season. Arlene’s focus is on food and health products. Three of her most successful investments are Balzac’s Coffee Roasters, OMG’s Candy, and the Greenlid Composite Compost Bin. Other of her investments include but are not limited to Pür Chewing Gum and Love Child Organic baby food.
Arlene Dickinson has also starred in other Canadian TV series and shows such as Murdoch Mysteries in 2012, Recipe on Riches in 2014, The Big Decision, and Under New Management in 2017.
Arlene Dickinson net worth
Arlene Dickinson is worth an estimate of $100 million. Her earnings are from bestselling books, capital ventures portfolios on small and medium-scale enterprises, TV appearances, and her marketing communication ventures.
Arlene Dickinson Books
Arlene Dickinson published her first book, Persuasion, in 2011, an autobiography which listed on the bestseller for many weeks. She published her second book, All In, in 2013 and her latest book, Reinvention: Changing Your Life, Your Career, and Your Future, in 2019.
Arlene Dickinson Personal Life
Ten years after her divorce, Arlene got married again at the age of 41. The marriage lasted for seven years. The identities of her two husbands are hidden from the public. On the fourth season of Dragons’ Den, Arlene met David Downer, a sales entrepreneur. They started a relationship and got engaged in 2011 but broke up before the wedding. Arlene has been single ever since and has about seven grandchildren.
Arlene Dickinson’s failure in her relationship contrasts with her business success. She has received several awards and honors. She is a recipient of Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Award (2012), Lifetime Achievement Business Award, Women’s International Film and Television Showcase (2011), Global Television of Woman of Vision, Chatelaine’s Top 100 Women Business Owners, Canada’s Most Powerful Women Top 100 Hall of Fame, and has been an honorary Captain of the Royal Canadian Navy since 2012.