Interview with Shilpa Gandhi, certified matchmaker and founder of Amare Exclusive
When former optician Shilpa Gandhi realised that her professional patients were finding it hard to find love because they were working long hours and didn’t like online dating, she realised there was a gap in the market – and launched her matchmaking business Amare Exlusive.
What’s your career background?
After qualifying as an optician in 2002, I managed several practices. My success in management and my personable nature lead to me training other practice managers and opticians.
Most people start another career because they didn’t like their first. That was not the case for me. I love optics and it has served me very well. However, I believe a person is multi-faceted and after many years in the optical industry -I decided I wanted to focus on my passion for matchmaking.
Through my career as an optician I understand the importance of excellent personal service and the need for a professional approach, both of which are key in matchmaking.
How did your career change after having children?
My career didn’t change but I did. Holding your baby and feeling the joy of creating something so beautiful from your Love is a magical thing that changes you.
I worked part-time after having my children and I found being a mummy was lovely but my brain was craving for more. I have always been business minded and starting my own business was the natural next step for me.
When did you get the idea for Amare Exclusive?
After I got married I started working in the city and found a lot of my patients who were lawyers, bankers etc were single, worked long hours and found it hard to find suitable partners.
Online dating was giving them quantity but not quality. I saw a gap in the market for a more personalised and tailored service.
How did you move from idea to actual business?
I researched and read a lot of books on the topic. One of which was written by the founder of the Matchmaking Institute. I contacted her to under-go their course and became a certified matchmaker through them, binding me to a strict code of ethics.
As an optician I was bound by a code of ethics to do the best by your patients. In matchmaking you are dealing with people’s vulnerabilities so I think it is important for my clients to know I am bound by a code of ethics that protects them.
What’s your USP?
At Amare Exclusive we pride ourselves on a completely personal and bespoke service. Not only do we pre-vet our client’s matches, but we have a stylist, a dating coach, a professional photographer, as well as a body language expert on board. We give our clients whatever they need to be able to represent the authentic and best of them on their matchmaking journey.
We also set up the dates, leaving our clients free to relax and enjoy the experience of falling in Love. The other thing is that we only work with relationship minded single professionals and introduce them to matches wanting a long-term relationship.
We are the first matchmaking company based in the heart of the City of London which makes Amare Exclusive a popular choice for those professionals based in the City and Canary Wharf.
Who’s your target audience?
Single London professionals between the age of 27-45 years-old who are looking for a long-term relationship.
How do you spread the word about what you do?
Through networking and word of mouth.
What’s been the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?
Changing the misperception about my industry. People often ask how my company compares to online dating and apps and the answer is, it doesn’t. We’re an OFF-line personal matchmaking service. We have a website online and an enquiry form but that is just a shop front. We meet all our clients in person and pre-vet all their matches.
And your proudest moment so far?
When one of my clients recently told me that he thought I’d introduced him to ‘the one’ and wanted to freeze his membership to see how things progressed. The freeze period is over and they are still together and making plans to move in together sometime this later year.
Why is work so important to you?
I have always worked, even when I was a student, I enjoy it. It gives me a sense of achievement and it stimulates my mind. I’m a self-motivated person who always goes the extra mile no matter what I’m doing, because to me a job should not just be done, it should always be done well and to the best of your ability.
Who inspires you?
My grandfather, he was a self-made man, who taught me that through hard work and determination you can achieve anything you put your mind to.
How do you balance your business with your family?
Probably the most important thing is a regimented routine. Everyday I’m out of the house early, either doing the school run or at client meetings in the city. From then on, I make sure everything is timed right. When you know how much time you have, you know how quickly you need to get through things.
I work some days in the city and others from home. The days I’m not in the city are intertwined with mothering and work commitments. I work all the time however, having those two interwoven one after the other actually gives me respite from both and re-energises me.
It’s not always easy, but I do my best to keep a good work-life balance.
What are your three top pieces of advice for someone wanting to do something similar?
- Make sure you have a good support network around you. So surround yourself with people who challenge you and want the best for you. Associate yourself with out of the box thinkers and ambitious people who inspire you. Know that everyone is on their own path and that to achieve we must be positive to be productive.
- You must be self-motivated, as some days can be quite intense when you have back to back client meetings and you need to be on top form at each of them.
- You need to be a people’s person to be able to connect with your clients as well as being able to understand them in order to find their ideal match.
You can find out more about Amare Exclusive on their website.