Leslie Wardman founded Ambiance Matchmaking exactly 22 years ago in the small town of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Matchmaking was not yet well-known in the Western world. Dating apps had not yet existed. Hell, the smartphone had not yet even been created. Craigslist and match.com had come into existence, albeit heavily stigmatized for being for the elderly and socially awkward. Yet, our small matchmaking agency found success with a growing number of singles in Tulsa. Leslie had become the town’s Matchmaker, building a portfolio of singles in a large black binder privately held on her office desk. The year was 2002.
Meanwhile, Leslie’s daughter, Taylor Wade, who was studying International Business and Entrepreneurship at ORU, was brainstorming ways to create a company herself. She had received offers from investors after winning her university’s “Shark Tank” for her idea to use online gaming to improve players' tennis techniques. However, after living in the tennis world for most of her life, she decided she didn’t want to work in it too. It didn’t take long before both Leslie and Taylor connected the dots and became excited at the possibility of working together. While Leslie focused on matchmaking and building the team, Taylor threw herself into the sales and marketing aspect.
Over 22 years, Ambiance Matchmaking would expand into 13 cities in 3 different countries, achieving recognition in the Chicago Tribune, Forbes, and the New York Times, and building a singles database of over 10,000 quality singles. How did we get here?
We built a team of people who fit our company culture
First and foremost, we would not be where we are today without our team. For anyone who runs a business, you know how critical it is to find the right people to build the company. Throughout building Ambiance Matchmaking, we crafted and refined our company values which helped form our company culture. When hiring, we first ask the question, “Would this person be a good culture fit?” If they fit the following criteria, the answer is yes.
- A person that values integrity: Our company is built on the bedrock of honesty and integrity.
- A conscious human being: Our team values self-development and awareness. We are always striving to raise our consciousness and leave our egos at the door.
- Open-minded: Our team is open-minded and cultured. We are very accepting of different perspectives and worldviews.
- Light-hearted: We like to have fun at Ambiance Matchmaking! During our meetings and events, there is a healthy balance of work and playfulness.
- Driven: Most of our team members are type-A, meaning they are very driven and focused on achieving high goals and raising our standards.
- Curious: Our team constantly desires to learn about new concepts and ideas.
- Intellectual: We are a bunch of bookworms who enjoy learning, sharing ideas, and delving into topics surrounding science and philosophy.
- Flexible: As our company is constantly evolving and innovating, we need team members who can easily adapt to new environments and ways of doing things.
- Creative: Our company likes to give its members the creative freedom to think outside of the box and present new and creative ideas.
We were selective about who we worked with.
When Leslie first started matchmaking, she wanted to help all singles she encountered. She quickly realized that, like any human being, she had limited supplies of time, energy, and resources that she needed to use wisely. Furthermore, on the business side of things, we realized the need to find our “niche” and that by being “everyone’s matchmaker”, we weren’t calling in our ideal clients. We quickly learned that we identified with entrepreneurs and industry leaders, and at the same time, they had great difficulty finding a partner as a byproduct of spending a lot of time in their careers and not wanting to date their co-workers. At the same time, we realized the importance of awareness and growth in relationships, and we decided that we also wanted to work with singles dedicated to this same founding value: to create a world full of conscious relationships. Hence, we naturally found our niche and built a community of “conscious leaders, creatives, and entrepreneurs.” This helped us evaluate during the intake process who would be a good fit, and who wouldn’t. Our acceptance rate is less than 25% but this ensures that our time, energy, and resources are being used in the best possible way for our clients. This founding value impacts everyone we work with within the industry, whether it be podcast guests or dating coaches. We ensure our company’s partners are dedicated to building a world of conscious relationships.
We expanded avenues for finding matches for our clients.
Oh yes, we have grown quite a bit since that first black binder. Flash forward to 2023 and we have built what we consider a well-oiled machine for finding matches for our clients. (We would hope so after 20 years and matching 100,000 singles!). We first turn to our members and singles database of over 10,000 quality singles that we built over the years. These are high-quality singles who have been screened and vetted to ensure authenticity and commitment. We also built our very own Private Matchmaking Network with 140 of the world’s top matchmakers to assist in finding matches for our clients. Last but not least, we have full-time recruiters who recruit singles via digital platforms, events, and professional networks formed from a combined 50+ years in the industry. We leave no rock unturned when looking for the right match for our clients.
We grew our company slowly.
Contrary to common belief, fast company growth is not in every company’s best interest. Specific to the matchmaking industry, the company’s matchmakers must be familiar with their matchmaking locations. Every city has its own dating culture and your matchmaker must know the nuances and subtleties of where her clients are dating. This is why Ambiance Matchmaking slowly grew its matchmaking locations over two decades! Our matchmakers have spent quality time in each of our locations so we can be familiar with the ins and outs of the dating culture and geography for logistical purposes.
Our client demographics have drastically changed.
Wow, our client demographics have evolved quite drastically over the last 22 years! Do you remember when I said matchmaking was a bit unfamiliar to westerners? Well, that changed with a couple of pop culture events that put matchmaking on the map. Say, Bravo’s show The Millionaire Matchmaker followed by the Netflix show The Indian Matchmaker (The Jewish Matchmaker coming soon!). Furthermore, dating apps unintentionally bolstered matchmaking as a viable dating option due to the apps’ causing dating burnout and a slew of mental health issues. Simultaneously, people began realizing the benefits of outsourcing very important areas of their lives to professionals. Mental health became a priority for many which in turn destigmatized therapy. In the same fashion, matchmaking had also been destigmatized and even promoted as a dating option for celebrities and the wealthy. All of this is to say that our client demographics have drastically changed. Today, our typical client is a 35-year-old CEO or founder looking to settle down with “the one.”
While we take a moment to look back and see how far we have come in 22 years, we are ready to look forward. We are always seeking new and innovative ways to take our matchmaking company to the next level, whether that means improving our client services, investing in recruiting, expanding our networks, and hiring the best of the best. Cheers to 22 years and decades more of matchmaking!