Exhausted from the day’s work, a 27-year-old man loosens his tie, grabs a beer from the fridge and flops into an oversized armchair to watch Monday night’s game. His apartment is quiet; he gave up long ago on meeting someone through the bar scene, and sifting through online dating profiles didn’t pan out. The working life simply doesn’t offer him enough personal encounters, and he’s surrendering to the idea of being alone.
A new Phoenix business hopes to change his luck — with the “old-fashioned” approach of casual, face-to-face encounters.
Founded in July, Phoenix Mingles is the creation of Morgan Klemp and Stephanie Lieb. The company plans on hosting monthly networking mixers for single, young professionals ages 21 to 35 while simultaneously supporting locally owned businesses.
“To really connect with someone, I think you have to meet them in person, first and foremost,” Lieb says. “We’re trying to return to the old-school sense of the face-to-face interaction that everyone has come away from so much.”
The female duo established the company after discussions with each other and other young professionals about frustrations with the general dating scene in the Phoenix area for their age group.
“People want something different than going to a bar on Friday or Saturday night and hoping to meet someone, so we’re hoping to try and change that dating scene in general,” Lieb says. “At the same time, we’re also hoping to promote locally owned businesses where we hold our events.”
The first event takes place on October 11, at O.H.S.O. Brewery in Phoenix, and Lieb anticipates about 70 attendees will attend the event. The evening will be emceed by Meghan Krein, an author and relationship expert.
According to Lieb, the goal of Phoenix Mingles is to escape from underneath the umbrella branding dating companies largely oriented around speed dating. But, Lieb says they have encountered difficulties convincing people of this idea.
“The biggest challenge is when people hear about a singles-event company, they kind of cringe,” Lieb says. “I think that we’re trying to change that reputation and explain to people that we’re hoping to be the opposite of the cheesy, speed-dating, typical company. We’re going to be a very casual, comfortable setting, and it will feel a lot like a typical networking event that people seem to enjoy going to.”
Breaking free from the mold many Valley dating companies establish, Lieb and Klemp plan on making its gatherings more accessible and fun to its target demographic.
“The difference, too, is a lot of dating companies that we’ve seen in the area charge close to $50, and that doesn’t include food, drinks, any prizes or any service besides hosting that event,” Lieb says. “So we are hoping that understanding our demographic, and that young professionals may not have a lot of disposable income to spend on something like this, we wanted to keep the price fair and also include something in that price besides just the event.”
Included in Phoenix Mingles’ $25 ticket price are varieties of food and cocktail, beer or wine, and some kind of activity or speaker.
The duo also has plans to expand from bar conglomerations and have specific themes. For example, they’re looking at holding an event at a local art gallery and bringing in a local artist or the gallery owner to discuss the art scene, or go to a restaurant and learn to cook with the head chef.
“We’re hoping to get business owners interacting with people in this age group, and vice-versa,” Lieb adds.
A Phoenix native, Lieb says she’s always wanted to start her own business in Arizona and give back to the community through it.
“We want to give back to, No. 1, the singles in the Phoenix area who are struggling to find a comfortable, non-cheesy way to meet one another and make that connection — whether it’s with a new friend, or someone to have a romantic relationship with,” she says.
If Phoenix Mingles is successful, Klemp and Lieb plan to expand the business to other cities in Arizona.