In Search Of A Soul Mate
1 year ago
Personal matchmakers help young professionals find love when technology isn’t enough
With a neatly-shaven goatee and a befitting wardrobe of suits and ties, Paul Carrick Brunson looks like a man who can find love, easily. A Georgetown Business School graduate with a background in finance, Brunson dreamed up his Washington, D.C.-based matchmaking agency, OneDegreeFrom.Me, after making an unsettling observation while working at a summer camp in 2008.
"I was helping kids register and at the end of the day, I realized that none of them came from a home with two parents," he recalls. Later that year, he and his wife, Jill, started inviting singles to their home and quickly realized there was a void in the matchmaking community. In 2009, they founded OneDegreeFrom.Me and have revitalized the dating lives of more than 200 clients.
While Brunson built his company on the East Coast, Jasmine Diaz started spicing things up for singles in Los Angeles. "I worked in the entertainment industry for years and I was the only married person in my group of friends," she says. "I started introducing my single friends to each other and I realized that I really had a knack for matchmaking." With a small roster of singles, Diaz opened her agency in November 2009 and named it Shawn Mackenzi—an ambiguous moniker that she hoped would be more approachable for wary clients.
From mingling at after-work happy hours to perusing a growing number of online dating sites, many African-Americans are leaving no opportunity missed in their pursuit of love. But when technology yields lackluster results, some ready-for-love searchers are taking the old-fashioned approach: a matchmaker.
In order to sort out serious inquiries, Brunson and Diaz have potential clients fill out applications that question everything from a person's height and weight to religion and income. The next step for candidates is to undergo a thorough screening to ensure that they're a good fit for the company and its pool of singles. Aside from obvious questions like "What are you looking for?" and "Do you have any children?," Brunson's two-week application process also includes interviewing a potential client's former boyfriend or girlfriend. "A lot of people are reluctant to hand off those contacts, but they typically give us the best information," he says.
Once clients are accepted, the agencies offer a range of services. Diaz and her six-strong staff assist some busy professionals with planning imaginative dates and help others revamp their looks with head-to-toe makeovers. OneDegreeFrom.Me's repertoire includes matchmaking, life coaching, events such as speed dating, and one of their most popular offerings—Modern Day Matchmaking Wednesday. During the weekly tweet fest, Brunson fields questions about one of his clients from his 22,000-plus Twitter followers and pairs the bachelor or bachelorette with someone in his timeline who he thinks is a good match based on his or her questions.