To embrace and acknowledge the contributions to this country by our diverse population, and to honor and celebrate Black and Woman’s History Month, Peter Bonnell on the Dun & Bradstreet Emerging Business team conducted a series of interviews with minority and women business owners. The interviews can be found on Dun & Bradstreet B2B’s Minority-Owned and Women-Owned Business Resource pages.

We live in an ever-increasingly busy world. Couple that with the digital age and people’s obsession with apps and smart phones, it’s easy to see why many people feel disconnected from each other. As Neil Postman recently said, “Americans no longer talk to each other, they entertain each other. They do not exchange ideas, they exchange images.”

Truth is, images are easy to share. Thoughtful, intentional dialogue takes effort; intimacy requires even more effort.

Many people have “romance” at their fingertips, whether it be through Tinder or Bumble, or the multitude of online match making services. Making a connection is just a small victory, actually planning a date takes even more work. This even applies to established couples.

Therez Fleetwood saw a business opportunity here, one she approached because she “loves love.” This is how she developed the idea for Luxury Romance Concierge.

The Drive Behind Luxury Romance Concierge

Fleetwood is the founder of Luxury Romance Concierge, a unique and innovative concierge company specializing is creating romantic and intimate date nights for couples. She has been working with couples for the past 25 years as a wedding designer and consultant, and is also a member of the Organization of Black Designers. Fleetwood is the author of The Afrocentric Bride: A Style Guide, and Men and Intimacy, Real Talk. Real Answers.

Fleetwood has also worked as a life coach in the field of self-expression and leadership, and is the former owner of Thérèz’s Playhouse, which provided couples with ways to rekindle the romance, intimacy, and bliss in their relationships.

Speaking of “rekindling,” I asked Fleetwood what was the spark behind Luxury Romance Concierge.

“I was inspired to expand my brand to consist of romantic date night planning because I love love,” she said. “I adore seeing couples build, fortify and express their love. Being involved in one of the happiest days in a person’s life, as a wedding coordinator and designer, is an honor.  I wanted to offer services that will assist couples in keeping their romance flame burning strong and tailor these date nights to each couple’s individual needs, whether it’s romance, intimacy or reconnection.”

“The focus of Luxury Romance Concierge is to ensure a stress-free evening by managing every aspect of the planning process so that each date night is executed flawlessly and the experience is unforgettable. We create intimate date nights celebrating wedding nights, anniversaries, engagements, birthdays, milestones, and special life moments.”

Planning and Addressing Challenges

Fleetwood’s business launched on January 1, 2017, but just because it’s still very young doesn’t mean there aren’t valuable insights to gain from it.  The company’s most pivotal moment so far has been identifying and exploring the value proposition for its target market: couples.

This “why” factor was instrumental to her business plan. “Once I became 100 percent clear on my direction and what I wanted to accomplish, I was able to formulate a plan for growth,” she said. “It was very important for me to be clear on the “why” of launching such a unique service because this will remain my driving force for expansion.”

Once a plan is developed for a business, the next step is marketing it, and that’s not always easy. “One of the biggest challenges that I face is creating awareness around Luxury Romance Concierge,” Fleetwood said. “While the concierge industry has been around for many years, the idea of hiring a ‘romance’ concierge is a new phenomenon; I am basically an innovator in this space.”

Fleetwood then elaborated on a critical moment from her past, one that would help give her experience to leverage in this new venture.

“One of the biggest failures that I had with my wedding design and consulting company was not having a clear road map of my vision for growth and success.” she said. “I figured that being a leader in this space because of my different design style was enough to sustain the company’s growth, and in hindsight this is such a ridiculous assumption and the worst mistake any business can make.” Tweet This

“The approach to launching Luxury Romance Concierge started with the formulation of a business plan before launching the company, and I tell you, it is much more empowering creating a company in this way.”

Strengths & Weaknesses

Every business, especially a new enterprise, must understand the key fundamentals within and surrounding the venture. Typically, a SWOT brainstorming session is necessary to start generating this understanding, which Fleetwood is no stranger to.

“The concept of hiring a romance concierge is generally a new idea, and we have the ability to be the leader in this category,” she said. “Our core strength lies in the power of our planning and design services that create environments that exude romance, communication and connection for couples. Our services are guided by best practices in the industry.”

As for weaknesses and opportunities, “It might take some time for our organization to break into the market and gain acceptance,” she said. “Especially from our targeted clients, since we are creating a new sector in the concierge services industry; that is perhaps our major weakness.”

“Another weakness is that we may not have the required cash to promote our business the way we would want to.  To off-set our cash flow, we are creating promotional opportunities and partnering with other companies to create brand awareness for all businesses involved.”

A Digital Marketing Strategy

The Luxury Romance Concierge is building its foundation in Dallas, Texas, and Fleetwood is performing a digital, grassroots marketing campaign to drive brand awareness.

“Our marketing strategy is to generate awareness via social media and online advertising, as well as strategically placing marketing materials in various locations. We placed an ad with D Magazine online and are Facebook targeting the Dallas area only. We sent out press releases to local media and local bloggers. This immediately helped our SEO ranking and introduced our brand to the city. We are also in the process of developing a mobile app to increase the company’s visibility and accessibility.”

Fleetwood realized that in order to build her company, the grassroots initiative would best compliment the scope of her business because the focus is on relationship growing. “This is a personal area that is not often discussed outside of the relationship,” she said. “It is logical for me to believe that 20 percent of my clients will build 80 percent of my business via word-of-mouth.”

Influencing the Entrepreneur

It’s always an interesting topic, the discussion of who influences the budding entrepreneur and business owner. For Fleetwood, it has been individuals who specialize in strengthening relationships and marriages, both authors and life coaches, who have inspired her. Specifically, she mentioned Harville Hendrix, Iyanla Vanzant, and Gary Chapman.

“They all provide great insight on how couples should communicate and support each in creating true intimacy.”

Fleetwood then expounded on this communication and support framework, stating, “In order for Luxury Romance Concierge to be successful and impact couples’ lives, I had to understand the structure in helping couples build and strengthen their connection. Once I understood this, I was able to create each date night to include these necessary elements.”

She also discussed further that she wished she had a mentor specifically in the romance concierge industry, a person that may have helped guide her throughout the business process and development. “Although I have made a few mistakes thus far, such as trying to be too big too fast by offering too many products and having to change the company’s name after creating a website and promo materials, what I have learned was when in doubt, formulate a focus group to flush out ideas and to gain more insights on my target markets.”

Perhaps these takeaways might serve as key insights for a potential entrepreneur, and Fleetwood can inadvertently play the role of mentor for others.

Fostering Romance Across Various Communities

Community impact is key not just to make a difference in the lives of those you serve, and those who may support your business, but also because it lends to a deeper understanding of the community in which a business operates.

Fleetwood certainly demonstrates this understanding, as she stated, “The Dallas community is made up of both heterosexual and LGBT couples; It is important for me to acknowledge and clearly market to them both. Love is love, romance is romance.  We all need it, want it and seek it from time to time. My business impacts my community by offering services that promote love, romance and intimacy. I help couples express that romance is still a priority.”

She understands that sometimes couples simply don’t have the time necessary to afford the most detailed date planning possible, though quality time together is a necessity. “Couples recognize and understand [this],” she said.

In turn, Fleetwood emphasized, “When couples connect and build a relationship in the space of love and happiness, this energy not only impacts the couple, but everyone around them as well.”

It’s safe to say Fleetwood genuinely appreciates the impact the community she serves has on her, when she observes the way her business fosters romance and keeps the proverbial flame glowing for everyone to see.

Photo Credit: Luxury Romance Concierge, Therez Fleetwood