The first business Christine Hart launched was a casting agency. She liked the thrill of running a successful business well enough, but she really loved it when the actors dropped by her office and chatted about their love lives.
Hart, 36, now spends all of her time doing just that as one of Canada’s few dating coaches. But since she had to invent the job on her own, it took her a few steps to get there.
She sold the Toronto-based casting agency after nearly four years and moved back to her hometown of Calgary — she missed the mountains and wanted to be able to buy a home.
That was early 2002, when speed dating was just taking off. On impulse, she called a friend and asked her if she wanted to start hosting events.
The two launched Six Minute Dates soon after and Hart ran it for six years. During that time, she got to be known as an expert on dating and the singles scene. Feeling restless, Hart wondered what her next launch would be. Then she and a friend saw the Will Smith movie Hitch by accident — the one they wanted to see was sold out.
“That’s what I do,” Hart told her friend when the movie about a “date doctor” was over. It had never occurred to her that anyone could help people with their dating lives as a career in itself. So she started YourDateCoach. com and sold the speed dating business in late 2007.
Now, she works with clients one-on-one, either in person or over the phone. Singles sign up for a minimum of four hour-long sessions. Hart talks to them about what they’re looking for, gives them dating tips and sometimes homework. “I think dating should be fun and should lead to a healthy relationship. It doesn’t have to be this arduous work.”
As well, she runs workshops on things like flirting, and writes articles for her web site and newsletter. Her advice and ideas get results. Her speed dating business alone led to 65 marriages. But Hart doesn’t define success just by wedding rings. A victory can be someone breaking their old dating patterns or simply learning to make eye contact.
As for her own dating life? “It’s changed so much. Dating has become so much more fun.”