For this Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be absolutely perfect to interview a world-renowned matchmaking service. You may already know this, but there is one right here in Rancho Santa Fe. I have the pleasure of sharing with you my personal interview with Irene Valenti, founder
of Valenti International. Sometimes, I just hit the jackpot with these interviews!
Q. How long ago did you start Valenti International, and how did you choose Rancho Santa Fe as your city?
A. I was invited to the Inn at Rancho Santa Fe 20 years ago to have lunch with a girlfriend. I immediately fell in love with the Ranch. That’s why I decided to start my business here. After all, I am a country girl at heart, and it so beautiful here.
Q. Why is Valenti International sought out by professionals over other matchmaking companies?
A. The caliber of our clients is what attracts business professionals to Valenti. As the leader of the company, I am extremely involved with my business. We have highly skilled staff and psychologists that give the personal touch needed to be successful for our clientele’s needs.
Q. Are matchmaking services more accepted than they were 10 years ago?
A. Yes. However, we are not a dating service like an Internet service. We are a matchmaking company in the European tradition, with a personal, private feeling for our clientele.
Q. What would you consider the key ingredients to running a successful business?
A. Huge commitment. You must have a solid business plan and do something you really love. You must have passion for your dream and believed that what you are doing is making a difference in the world.
Q. Are you selective in choosing the individuals that would like to sign up for Valenti’s services?
A. Yes, absolutely. All pay a pre-screening fee, and then they speak to one of our psychologists on staff. We assess whether they are compatible with Valenti and that we are also compatible with them.
Q. If you wanted to encourage those that are hesitant in using a matchmaking service, what advice would you give them to change their mind?
A. I would give them this analogy: Most successful people have experts advise them on their business relationships, such as financial advisers. So, do your due diligence and seek advice and invest for your most important relationship — your own.
Q. Where do you see your company in the next five years?
A. Definitely recognized as a relationship expert in the world. We are already on that path. I also I want to encourage our clients to be more thoughtful and to grow in the area of their relationships with others. I haven’t mentioned this yet, but Valenti already has more individuals interested in our service than we can actually take as clients, even during the recession.
Q. What has been the most rewarding aspect as a business owner in Rancho Santa Fe?
A. Being welcomed with open arms from the first day. I am excited to give back to the community in return for all that the Ranch has already done for me. I was welcomed with open arms.
Q. What words of wisdom could you share with couples over Valentine’s Day this year?
A. Never give up on finding true love. There is someone for everyone in this life.
After interviewing Irene over the phone, I felt moved by her passion and decisive words. Her final words actually took my breath away. “Never give up on true love.” Now that’s the best advice I’ve heard from anyone in along time — refreshing, inspirational and dripping with pure romance. Thank you, Irene for your interview for “Machel’s Ranch.” Your interview truly touched my heart this Valentine’s season. Check out www.ValentiInternational.com for more information on Irene’s successful business.
On Jan. 23, Ranch resident Violet MacDonald and her very best friend from Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Carol MacDonald celebrated their 40 years of friendship at Firenze Trattoria with their closest loved ones. The two friends met in Bloomfield Hills, while living and raising their families together in the same neighborhood. A photo taken the night of their celebration, during restaurant week is featured in this column. Violet took her entire family out to dinner including her children and grandchildren, which included her favorite daughter-in-law, Meredith MacDonald. The guests enjoyed red wine and feasted on yummy Italian food, as they were enchanted with some fascinating stories when these two lovely ladies’ children were growing up together. Best friends are the best, and I just love Violet. She is truly a “class act” in the Ranch.
On Jan. 25, I snuggled up under my blanket to watch this season’s “The Bachelor.” Steve Pavelka, I must say, is just about the meanest bachelor I’ve ever seen on ABC. Normally, they only send two girls home during the reality show, while Mr. Pavelka happily sent four girls packing with a smirk on his face. At the beginning of the episode, he informed one of the girls he was “Mr. Dateless in the ninth grade.” Maybe he should’ve stayed that way. I don’t know ow he landed this role, it must have been one of the networks biggest casting catastrophes. I’ve never seen a more disturbing season. He even burned a rose that night, although I’m sure some of it’s encouraged by the producers. However, as a woman, I personally felt insulted by his inability to be classy with the ladies that didn’t turn his head. My advice? Skip the last few shows of this season and wait for “The Bachelorette.” I’m incredibly bored on “Marry Me Monday Nights.” However, I do love that campaign slogan …
On Jan. 28, Suzanne Felando invited me to a fabulous party at her newly opened salon in Rancho Santa Fe. Located right by The Rancho Santa Fe Sandwich shop, residents in town now have another option in their beautifying routine. Suzanne was an excellent hostess. She gave me the grand tour of the party, which stretched around the corner from her shop into the courtyard by the Barry Estates office. Singer Ellen Cusac and guitarist Jeff Shultz were on deck, also filling the event with their acoustic style music. I also ran into Ranch resident Anna Waite with local author Sage Breslin. Guests enjoyed gourmet sandwiches, desserts and champagne, while they were introduced to the fantastic products inside the salon. I managed to snap a cute photo of Audrey and Christian Mattson, Jonathan Ford and Andre Nordan. They were busy passing our raffle tickets for a drawing later that evening. Thanks so much for including me, Suzanne. For more information, please check out www.studiofelando.com or call (858)756-5602.
On the evening of Jan. 31, the Grammy’s were televised. Nothing excites me more than uncovering a local celebrity to brag about in my column. North County resident Becky Riedy was the announcer at the Grammy’s. How cool is that? If you watched that evening, you heard Becky announcing the guests as they strolled on stage in their outlandish rock star outfits to hand out the golden awards. Becky is married to John Riedy. You may not know this, but John is the nephew of Cathy and John Lynch here in the Ranch. I have been the lucky enough to know their family through mutual friends over the last 20 years. Becky has also announced the 2007 Prime-time Emmy Awards, the 50th annual Grammy Awards in 2008, and the Grammy Nomination Concert in November 2009. I have included a gorgeous picture, which was taken by her husband, John Riedy. If you are looking for an excellent photographer, check out his Web site at www.Johnriedy.com, and Becky’s at www.Beckyriedy. com. Thanks so much for letting me share this exciting news. Becky and John are also the proud parents of two gorgeous boys.
On Feb. 1, I attended the Rancho Santa Fe Rotary luncheon, which was held at the Inn at Rancho Santa Fe. What I love about the Rotary Club is their wonderful way of just making you feel right at home with everyone else in the room. As a newcomer, you would think meeting high-level professionals might be intimidating. However, not at their meeting. So many wonderful Rotarians introduce themselves to you, which immediately puts you at ease. That day two new members were inducted: Irene Valenti and Dr. Bridget Cantwell McDonald. I have included their photos here. After their induction, Ranch resident Kelly Michael’s son-in-law, Commander Paul Bieraugel of the destroyer USN Kidd, gave an insightful presentation of what it’s like to be on the front lines in the Navy for more than 19 years. On a side note, Heather Manion was also presented a cake and we all sang “Happy Birthday” to her. What an amazing way to enjoy your lunchtime on Mondays in the Ranch. If you would like more information on this incredible organization, please visit www.ranchosantaferotary.org.