My mother, Jill Kelleher, was a pioneer and trailblazer in the dating world in the 1980s.
She was one of the United States’ original matchmakers working on a commercial-based marketing level, where people paid her for the purpose of meeting their ideal partner.
Her business existed in the days before computers and dating apps, with only a handful of video-based dating services available. I remember how difficult it was to start a company without any sort of examples, business models or mentors—other than perhaps the Broadway song “Matchmaker Matchmaker”.
We knew about arranged marriages overseas, but here in the United States it was a blank canvas. This was the mid-80s and every match felt like a hurdle to overcome. But the gratitude that came with it was enough for my mother to realize she was never going to go back.
Throughout high school and college I watched in awe and thought it was fascinating. I watched her success for years, but it wasn’t until 1996 that I began working alongside her.
I was in my twenties, and had been living in Los Angeles working in the entertainment business, but felt the need for something more fulfilling. I wanted a job with substance and meaning, so started answering the phone in my mother’s boutique San Francisco office.
Instantly, I fell in love with matchmaking; not only the business of finding love, but the people that we had the opportunity to meet and work for.
The matchmaking bug had bitten me, and in 1997 I opened up our second office in the Beverly Hills area. A few years later I became the company’s CEO and expanded the business across the country and overseas.
Now, we are an elite matchmaking agency that specializes in prominent singles, from high-profile celebrities to politicians, athletes, business executives and millionaires.
The main criteria for a potential client is somebody who is serious about a long-term relationship, eventually leading towards marriage. We are not here for hook-ups. We are not an app. We are not online. We are not a social calendar used to fill a lonely dating life.
We look for passionate, eligible singles who are busy and dating fine on their own. They are picky, don’t wish to settle, and have a full life to share with someone. That someone is our job to find.
The love business never gets old because everybody who walks in the door has different criteria and circumstances. Some people have come from very wealthy families and are just looking for that connection. Maybe they’re looking for an artist that plays to their creative side, or just someone who they can connect with spiritually and intellectually.
Above all else, we are known for retaining extraordinary clientele. Our clients are comfortable, whether this means gainfully employed or perhaps having sold their company.
Their success flows into other areas of their life—they are interested and interesting. Our clients are all highly educated, passionate, successful, worldly, kind, realistic, fun and physically fit. This is why they are so eligible.
My favorite part is that the majority of people we invite in have done a deep dive internally and emotionally, so they have a great sense of self-awareness.
Life as a matchmaker is never boring, and you never know what’s around the corner. For example, around eight months ago, a famous actress from a television show in Los Angeles somehow got my cell phone number and called me directly to introduce herself.
She told me she was interested in joining after her divorce was finalized. We talked back-and-forth for a few months and the week before she was going to come on board, she decided to give her ex-husband another chance.
They ended up reuniting. She told me she learned a lot from her conversations about relationships and her role in the one that she was about to end.
She was so grateful to have a second chance at love with her ex that she sent me her best friend and asked me to take good care of him in her place. His first match ended up in a marriage.
I can’t choose a favorite couple from my time matchmaking, but I love the stories; of dream homes being purchased by a future spouse, with ribbons around the front door.
Or the story of an astronaut and physicist who met at a conference and realized they had turned each other down at our agency. Our matchmakers had encouraged them to meet regardless of an age gap, but they both politely declined.
It took three years for them to meet on their own, but when they did, their connection was instant. They got married soon after and they still give us credit.
I love stories of people being whisked off and taken to foreign countries and living their best lives together. I loved calling my client “Buck” who lives on the east coast, and asking how he’s doing.
“I’m sitting with the love of my life, eating chocolate cake and watching the sunset,” he said.
I’ve noticed that people are successful in their long-term relationships if they have the right attitude.
Regardless of how eligible you are, how attractive you are, how much money you have, and even how “easy” it seems a person is to match, it really comes down to one thing—their personality.
If they’re spontaneous, flexible, open, happy, kind, generous and realize that the perfect person is worth the wait, then usually they end up falling in love and being a success story straight out the gate.
But if they come in with an attitude, they turn down all their matches, demand to see photos or micromanage the experience, then I predict that in 10 years’ time they will still be single.
Bottom line, “there is a lid for every pot” as my mother Jill says, but people get in their own way all the time.
When I joined my mother all those years ago, we made a commitment to go national with a deep focus on consistently improving our product and shaping the industry.
I believe we set the gold standard for many matchmakers to follow, and plan to continue to be so for decades to come.
Amber Kelleher-Andrews is the co-founder and CEO of Kelleher International.
All views expressed in this article are the author’s own.
Do you have a unique experience or personal story to share? Email the My Turn team at email@example.com.