Dr. Sara Clemm von Hohenberg’s speed dating business cultivates meaningful connections, now extending its reach with an upcoming CUAA speed dating event.

Dr. Sara Clemm von Hohenberg‘s journey to owning a speed dating business began with a serendipitous encounter: she met her husband through speed dating. Who could have foreseen that CUAA’s Director of the Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction with Elementary and Secondary Teacher Certification Program, would eventually own The Perky Wallflower, facilitating connections and fostering love, all initiated by her daughter? Not only does she continue to foster connections within her classrooms, but she now also has the opportunity to help Concordia University Ann Arbor students find love.

The Beginning of The Perky Wallflower

Clemm von Hohenberg’s journey into the world of entrepreneurship and matchmaking began with an unexpected spark of inspiration – a middle school business project her daughter had to create. While brainstorming ideas, a friend mentioned the challenges of meeting other single people, suggesting speed dating as a solution for those struggling with dating apps. After completing the middle school project, her daughter decided she wanted to make the business a reality. After doing some research and not seeing any other speed dating businesses in the area and recognizing the challenges many face in meeting potential partners, particularly in a post-pandemic world, Clemm von Hohenberg agreed. Thus The Perky Wallflower was born to create meaningful connections.

“My daughter planned out the logo and created the website,” she recalled. “She called it The Perky Wallflower because some people are perky and outgoing while others are a bit more introverted like a wallflower. She posts about the events and all the money goes to her college fund.”

Setting the Stage for Meaningful Connections

The Perky Wallflower hosts events tailored to diverse age groups, spanning from individuals in their 20s to those in their 60s, with each age group featured once a week every month. With an entry fee of $20 per event and a commitment to ensuring equal gender representation, participants are guaranteed five dates per event. Prior to the event, participants receive an informative email containing a curated list of 20 questions to facilitate engaging conversations during their dates.

“We try to give them a list of good questions instead of them asking someone what they do for a living, because in the end what they do for a living is not usually a deal breaker,” Clemm von Hohenberg explained. “We want them to ask harder questions, so we give a list of scenario questions that will get them more engaged and talking.”

At the event, attendees are welcomed with warmth and encouragement, each assigned a designated seat equipped with a clipboard and name tag. Throughout the evening, participants rotate through a series of six-minute dates, jotting down their impressions on the clipboard and indicating if they wish to match with their counterparts.

One of Clemm von Hohenberg’s graduate students who has attended a speed dating event, Samantha Laporte said, “I love that speed dating is in person because it is a chance to really get to know someone. All first dates are awkward so knowing we all feel the same is confronting.”

Post-event, Clemm von Hohenberg meticulously reviews the feedback forms and promptly sends out emails with the results on the same night, ensuring a seamless experience for all involved. Even if someone doesn’t get a match, they will receive an email, providing information on the upcoming events. Mismatches do occur where someone’s interest isn’t reciprocated by their picks, yet others at the event express interest in them. This shows that attraction and compatibility in speed dating are subjective, shaped by personal preferences and chemistry, highlighting the unpredictable nature of these interactions. Many participants return for future events, drawn by the enjoyable experiences and the opportunity to meet new people.

Navigating Challenges and Embracing Rewards

Running a speed dating business comes with its share of challenges, particularly in the reliance on attendee participation. Ensuring a balanced and fulfilling event requires meticulous planning, and when participants don’t show up, it disrupts the carefully orchestrated atmosphere, potentially leaving some attendees without matches and a complete experience.

“Having to rely on people has been the hardest part about owning a speed dating business, and I really try to be organized with everything I do because we want to give people the best experience possible,” Clemm von Hohenberg said. “If people don’t show up for various reasons, there will be someone left out, so not everyone is not getting the same experience.”

For Clemm von Hohenberg and her family, The Perky Wallflower is more than just a business. It has only been around for three years, and so far she has seen one wedding happen because of the business. Witnessing individuals laugh, smile, and form meaningful bonds in a positive environment serves as a beacon of hope.

“We see it as a ministry for us, we love seeing people connect both on the friendship level and see a love connection,” she explained .

CUAA Speed Dating Event

Mark your calendars for February 25, as The Perky Wallflower partners up with Student Events to bring an exciting speed dating experience directly to campus. To kick off this special occasion, the first 10 individuals to register will enjoy complimentary admission, courtesy of Student Events. For others, the entry fee remains a mere $10 per person, ensuring accessibility for all. This exclusive event won’t limit attendance to CUAA students alone; it will also be open to singles from neighboring colleges.

“It is challenging to meet people in person, and I have not had the best results with dating apps,” Laporte remarked. “There is nothing to loose by attending, I had a great time and look forward to attending again.”

See the flyer for all the details.

As Clemm von Hohenberg continues to navigate the ever-evolving landscape of matchmaking and entrepreneurship, she remains steadfast in her mission to foster meaningful connections and bring joy to the lives of others inside and outside of the classroom.

Want in?

Our mission at Student Events is to provide you with opportunities to learn and develop outside of the classroom. Through social, educational, and spiritual programming, our staff seeks to assist students in holistic development. As a Cardinal, you will find numerous ways to get involved on campus. You’ve got options! In addition to student events, there are many other student organizations you can get involved in.

—This story is written by Keara Chaperon, Social Media Manager for Concordia University Ann Arbor and Concordia University Wisconsin. She may be reached at keara.chaperon@cuaa.edu.