Vida Forever : Ever Searching For The One
Craig Hough sat down with Rachel Vida MacLynn the Founder and CEO of Vida Consultancy to discuss all things dating and plans to bring their events to the North.
What previous experience did you have match-making and how did this inspire you to set up your own dating consultancy?
Having worked as a business psychologist for a few years in my twenties, a moment of serendipity found me looking at a job advert for a psychologist to join a matchmaking agency in London. When I read the advert, I had butterflies in my stomach - it felt like my calling! I went on to work for a matchmaking agency for nearly 5 years, then made the brave decision to set up my own agency in 2011. I loved everything about matchmaking – meeting some of the most inspirational and successful people from the UK and around the world. It felt like such an honour to have people entrust me with helping them achieve their goal of finding a long-term partner. In addition, I also recognised that the matchmaking industry was likely to boom in the UK, following its popularity in the States. This, to me, presented as a unique opportunity for me to thrive in a career that used to have very little involvement by psychologists.
How do you feel dating trends have evolved and how do you keep up with them?
The dating scene has been blown wide open since dating apps came into play around 2012 – no more so than with the advent of Tinder. Even going back before that, the Internet completely revolutionised all we knew about dating, when lonely hearts ads were replaced by online dating profiles in the late ’90s – but dating apps especially are just a world unto themselves. The online dating industry is huge, with thousands of apps available on the market. Matchmaking represents most the offline dating world. I attend conferences around the world to keep up to date with the latest developments and to seek inspiration for how to grow my business.
How does online dating compare to using a dating consultancy like yourselves?
Nowadays, many people throw themselves into online dating to find a long-term partner, not just a short-term fling, and they are forming impressions based on a single picture, and perhaps just a sentence or two of text. Online dating benefits from high volume and a low price point. If you choose the right app or site, dedicate significant time and adopt the right strategy (e.g. approach people who are potentially compatible with you), then the chances are, eventually you’ll find someone. So, with online dating, the investment of money is low, but the investment of time and energy is high. Offline matchmaking sits at the opposite end of the spectrum. The financial investment is much higher, but investment of time is lower. With matchmaking, rather than an algorithm pointing you in the direction of your future spouse, a matchmaker personally searches on your behalf and guides you through your dating journey, picking up on nuances that an algorithm could never capture. We do this by meeting all the matches for our clients before they are introduced. We assess values and attitudes (that’s where the psychology comes in); but we also gauge things like humour, dress sense, body language, manner – areas that require human judgement.
What is the process you go through to find a new customer the perfect match?
At Vida, our in-house team of psychologists has developed our own method of assessing compatibility by honing in on values. Every client is assigned a matchmaker who gets to know his/her client personally and conducting an in-depth profiling session. We then work in partnership with our clients by discussing profiles of matches that have been hand-picked by the matchmaker. We give our clients the final say on who they choose to meet. The process is incredibly effective because there are many reasons why someone hasn’t met a partner. For example, some people think they know what they want in a partner, but their perception is skewed. We share our insight and expertise with our clients, sometimes via structured coaching sessions and other times it’ll be in the form of relaxed feedback shared during a coffee meeting. Ultimately, we steer our clients towards achieving one goal; and that is to find their ultimate match. Everything we do has this goal in mind.
What support does the consultancy offer customers throughout their dating process?
We offer coaching through our in-house psychologist and relationship expert, Madeleine Mason Roantree. Madeleine’s service runs alongside our matchmaking service, so she can offer a unique perspective on some of the barriers people face with finding the right partner and getting into a relationship. When someone is demonstrating behaviours such a self-sabotage or avoidance, Madeleine has the expertise to step in and help.
In addition, our matchmakers keep in regular contact with their clients. We’re a personal and friendly team. At the end of the day, what we are involved in is finding people love, and that touches on a wide array of emotions for most people, so it’s paramount that every matchmaker is able to lend a listening ear and be mindful of their member’s experiences.
Do you host events for your customers to meet?
Yes, we run events, usually in London and we have recently expanded our events to Manchester and NYC. Our last event was held at a stunning private members’ club in London. We have 150 guests and 15 members of the Vida team, who worked the room to make everyone feel welcome. Our events are now run in partnership with EliteSingles. I was there and have to say, the crowd was impressive. We had a simple yet effective ice-breaker game that encouraged everyone to talk to as many members of the opposite sex. The next day our team had a flurry of emails from our guests updating us on all the phone numbers that had been exchanged. It was a huge success!
Are you able to share your favourite success story?
Yes, I love to reminisce! Last March we had a lady join our consultancy. Stunning, successful, active. She is an entrepreneur and qualified nutritionist. She and her match were attracted to one another from the get-go on their first date. Both in their 30s, they had a natural chemistry and connected instantly. Since day one, they’ve gone only from strength to strength, from spending New Year together in the Bahamas to travelling out to South America to meet his. They share many common interests, such as sports, fitness and travel, and are very much looking to their future as a couple.
Having been the matchmaker for so many couples over the years, what is your own personal love story?
I was introduced to my fiancé Jamie by my best friend! She met him in Fiji in 2007 when they were both travelling independently around the world. They became friends and she noticed that his general attitude to life was closely aligned with mine. In 2010 Jamie and I were introduced at a barbeque. We were both single and looking for a serious relationship. We fell in love very quickly and haven’t looked back.
We asked Vida Dating Coach Madelaine for her top tips for a first date
Meet somewhere convenient and comfortable for you both. You are more likely to enjoy yourself, even if the date is a no-go.
Read the headlines of a couple of different newspapers for inspiration on topical things to talk about.
Keep the date short and sweet, 60–90 minutes. If there is chemistry it will add to the excitement of a blossoming relationship; if not, you didn’t spend too much precious time on a dead end.
Allow yourself to have fun. You want to know whether the two of you can get along. Don’t worry about what’s not right about your date for now.
Work out beforehand what your life values are (kindness, fame, health etc.), and ask yourself during the conversation whether your date possesses similar values. If yes, go on a second date – even if the sparks aren’t flying around you.
Vida Consultancy Ltd 16 Berkeley Street,Mayfair, London,London W1J 8DZ
t: +44 (0)20 3613 5701