‘I call myself a head-hunter for the heart’
For couples, Valentine’s Day can be a wonderful, romantic interlude, but for single people it can be a painful reminder that they haven’t found that special someone yet.
Luckily, there is a new option in town to find a significant other a matchmaking service called Kathy Ann Matchmaker Ltd.
After experiencing a few disastrous dates arranged by online dating sites, divorcee Kathy Austin Hutchings decided to set up her own matchmaking service for people looking for serious relationships. She opened Kathy Ann Matchmaker Ltd in January. Her background is in professional headhunting and recruiting, and she also has experience as a wedding planner.
“I am calling myself a headhunter for the heart,” she said. “I have been through the dating scene. I know how online dating works, and I know how people can say they are someone they are not. I have tried it myself and it turned out really badly. I am not saying everyone is like that. There are some places where it works but being in Bermuda, [the number of] people are very limited. I did a lot of research and found there were so many people looking to start a serious relationship leading to marriage.”
She emphasised that Kathy Ann Matchmaker is not an online dating site, but strictly an offline operation.
“I have found that online dating works to a certain degree but people can pretend to be someone else,” she said. “Also, in Bermuda a lot of people on online dating sites are in other countries, so you are not free to openly date those people face to face as you are in Bermuda.”
She does take on international clients but they must agree to meet her at some point, face to face. They also have to be willing to travel back and forth between Bermuda and their country to maintain a relationship. Her company works by extensively interviewing clients. They must fill out a 14-page questionnaire and pay for a police background check. Her service is for people who are serious about meeting the right person, and the process can be costly for the client, because she conducts lengthy interviews, places discreet advertisements and also networks with other professional matchmaking organisations and databases. She guarantees a certain number of matches. She maintains a database of potential matches. People not considered clients, may pay a small fee to be in her database. Clients’ profiles are never shown on any kind of website. The only person who sees them is the matchmaker.
“I have had a great response since I started in January, which just reinforces my knowledge that there is a need for it,” she said. “I have been interviewing clients the last couple of weekends. I am just waiting for the police background checks. The background checks are taking four to six weeks to come back because the police are inundated with requests for background checks from all over the world. I can’t protect people 100 percent, but I can do my due diligence to make sure people are protected to the best of my ability.”
Ms Hutchings is divorced, but because she doesn’t believe it is ethical to date clients she will not be looking for herself. She just believes this is a service that will really help people.
“I am enjoying doing it,” she said. “I have done my homework. I researched places like New York and it is amazing the number of business and professional people looking for someone to marry. I was puzzled by that as I thought, you must meet people all the time in a place like New York. But as is the case anywhere, many people don’t just want a body, they want someone with certain qualities. With the gentlemen, I always joke they want a beautiful, perfect blonde - that is not always the case. Often, they want someone who is intelligent, someone they can converse with and someone who has certain qualities and values.”
She thought a lot of people today were having problems finding that special someone because the pace of life is so hectic.
“Everyone is working, travelling and spending time with family,” she said. “People looking for someone to marry don’t have time to casually date and go through a series of people. That is where I come in. I am the middle person and I will weed out those people who I don’t think would match make a good match for you.”
Ms Hutchings encourages her clients to look behind the visual and also to take time to develop a friendship with potential matches. It is up to the client to establish chemistry with their prospective mate. During the weeding-out process she looks for potential deal breakers.
“If one person wants children and the other doesn’t, that can be a relationship destroyer,” she said. “If you really want children and the other person doesn’t, don’t think the other person is going to change. Religious faith can be another issue. One person could be an animal lover and the other person could just tolerate animals. Tolerating and loving animals are two different things. Those things are really important.”
She said other things she looks at are the energy levels of a potential match. It can be hard if one person wants to go out all the time and the other wants to stay home and watch television.
“I ask extensive questions about lifestyle, likes, dislikes and information about themselves,” she said. “Nobody has emphasised money as yet. I will try to weed out gold diggers. [Many] people will say they want the other person to be financially secure in their own right, and that’s fine.”