The Scoop: For many years, Julie Wadley recognized that black women were underserved by matchmakers and dating coaches. To remedy that, she founded Eli Simone, a matchmaking and dating coaching service that focuses on women of color and the particular romantic challenges they face. Julie helps clients identify what type of partner they’re looking for, and she teaches them how to portray their true and best selves on dates. She then matches clients based on compatibility and a variety of other factors. Ultimately, Julie recognizes the importance of love and relationships in improving the quality of life.

When Julie Wadley was in her 20s, she went out for drinks with a friend who’d just experienced a breakup. People often asked Julie for her thoughts on their dating and relationship problems; and many commented on her excellent, rational advice.

“I remember thinking that I know a bunch of amazing women. Why are women I knew who looked like me having such a hard time finding a partner?” Julie said.

After having that realization, Julie knew she wanted to help black women find the loving, affirming partners they sought. But she also had a professional career that took up most of her time, so she had to make a major life decision.

In 2013, Julie decided to quit her job and start Eli Simone, a matchmaking and dating coaching service that focuses on women of color.

Eli Simone banner

Eli Simone Matchmaking and Coaching was founded to help black women find love.

“I was working in corporate America, and I knew I needed to find something else. So I decided I wanted to make a living doing what I loved,” she told us.

While matchmaking and coaching are part of a multi-billion dollar industry, Julie saw that black women were severely underrepresented — both as matchmakers and as clients. Though she often works with women of other ethnicities and men of all races, black women are the backbone of Julie’s business.

“I have a soft spot for black women,” she said. “There are different perspectives and privileges that a man may have versus a woman, or that a black person may have versus a white person. And, with that in mind, I tailor my goals for my clients to their unique circumstances.”

Teaching Clients How to Attract Their Ideal Partners

Some women struggle to attract partners because they’ve neglected that area of their lives to work or focus on themselves and their own expectations. Are they searching for the wrong kind of man? Do they sabotage relationships consistently?

Julie forces women to examine what’s happened in their previous relationships through a coaching style she describes as “lovingly challenging.”

“I like to ask the tough questions that people don’t want to ask themselves,” she said. “I challenge women to look at themselves to see how they’re sabotaging their chances.”

Before asking the tough questions, Julie first gets to know her clients and their goals. Some women may want to get remarried after a divorce. Others may want to develop confidence and get back into the dating scene after a long time away.

Julie then identifies how self-doubt could be holding her clients back. Often, she finds that negative self-belief or a failure to set goals keeps women from getting what they want in love and life.

“But I believe that whatever your goal is, you have the power to do it,” Julie said.

Clients who want to work on themselves can benefit from Julie’s two coaching programs: “Prepare for the Love of My Life” and “Attract the Love of My Life.” These are both six-week, private coaching programs.

“Prepare for the Love of My Life” is designed for singles who want to understand what they’re doing wrong in dating or the type of partner they should be searching for. Often, these singles are re-entering the dating scene after a divorce and are confused by what they encounter.

“They don’t know what they want or what steps they can take to find that right person,” Julie said.

“Attract the Love of My Life” is aimed at shy or socially awkward people who want to learn how to attract a romantic partner.

“The program boosts their confidence to start dating,” Julie told us.

Matchmaking With Compatibility and Discretion in Mind

Women also come to Julie when they’re struggling to meet potential partners. Many of those women know what they’re looking for, but they can’t find anyone who meets their expectations. Her clients are often professional women who are busy with other obligations and don’t have time to search for an ideal partner. So, after Julie takes on a client, the first step is a strategy session.

“How do you define success, and what are the obstacles to your getting it?” Julie said she asks clients in those sessions.

Photo of Eli Simone Founder Julie Wadley

Eli Simone Founder Julie Wadley enjoys connecting singles.

Next, Julie takes the client’s photo, which she refers to as their “calling card,” to share with other compatible clients. Both potential partners need to find each other attractive before she sets up a date. Julie also helps her clients write profiles describing who they are and other details about their personal lives.

After Julie adds a new client to her database, she searches through existing clients to find those who are compatible in certain categories, including age, religion, or location. She also searches for other areas that are less easily identifiable.

“I look at other qualities like if one person enjoys the outdoors while another would rather stay at home and watch Netflix,” she said. “I ask myself ‘Can I picture these two people together?’”

If both parties agree that they want to meet, Julie sets up a meeting. She often creates dates that encourage the couple to open up to one another. For example, she likes sending couples to escape rooms, where they’re expected to solve puzzles together, so they’re forced to show their authentic selves.

“You want to figure out as much as you can in as short a time as possible,” she said. “You need an experience where they forget themselves, and whatever shows up is who they naturally are.”

Julie Helps People Become Their Best Selves

Over the last six years, Julie has given black women the attention that they deserve. In other matchmaking firms, black women may be clients, but they may not feel understood, Julie said. But she said she understands them.

Julie ensures her matchmaking process isn’t awkward for either party. After the pairs meet, she handles setting up an additional meeting. If either or both decide they don’t meet again, Julie doesn’t try to push the connection. Instead, she encourages her female clients to figure out what they can learn from the experience.

“If either person doesn’t like the other, I ask ‘What went wrong?’ It’s a learning tool for both of us,” she told us.

Once clients make a connection, they can pause their membership indefinitely. That’s why Julie based her matchmaking membership rates on the number of introductions, not on months.

“You can’t rush authentic connections and love,” she said.

Running a successful matchmaking business has made Julie realize how similar most people are when it comes to dating.

“I’ve worked with every race and gender, and I’ve found that everyone has the same struggles,” she said. “Everyone is dealing with forgiveness and grief.”

The key to her matchmaking and coaching is giving clients the tools to effectively deal with their issues — and move on.