Theresa Sitto, a retired teacher, runs a small business that helps connect people — hopefully for life.
Inspired by Patti Stanger, the star of the reality TV series “The Millionaire Matchmaker,” Sitto has been making love connections for Chaldeans — people of Iraqi ancestry who are Catholic — during the past five years through her company, MATCHaledean.
Her enterprise hasn’t made her rich; but, she said, that was never her goal. She said she just wants to leave a legacy of happy couples with happy children.
“Money is not my primary motivation,” she explained, noting that she charges a one-time registration fee of $100, and then $35 for each first date after that. “I feel I’m contributing to keeping our culture and our community alive. I’m doing good work. However, the business has been successful to a point it pays for itself.”
Sitto, who has been married 31 years and has four adult children (three of whom are still single), said the idea for the business came from your elder son, an attorney, who was watching the reality matchmaking show and suggested she could do the same for Chaldeans.
Her son helped draw up the business paperwork, and since then, Sitto said, and claims responsibility for about 40 engagements and marriages.
We talked to Sitto about her business, her matchmaking methods, and her experience meeting with Stanger in May. The interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
QUESTION:So you set up your business, then what?
ANSWER: I took a leap of faith, and started with two offices, and I didn’t know honestly if I’d last a week. But the started coming and they haven’t stopped. The last five years have been quite an adventure. I’ve learned a lot about our people. I feel I have the pulse of the community. I’ve met people from every walk of Chaldean life, from widowers to divorced to never married, all different situations. It touches me. It motivates me. I get up at 7 a.m. every day, and usually don’t stop until 9 o’clock at night.
Q: May I ask you, how much does the business earn a year?
A: It’s not a big moneymaking venture. It’s in the $20,000 range. That’s enough to keep the business going, pay for the advertising, site maintenance and to give away a scholarship each year. The most satisfying part is not monetary.
Q: So, then, do you feel your venture is more of a business or a hobby?
A: I’ve never felt it was a hobby. It’s a very viable service that the community at large generally appreciates and values.
Q: Could you tell us about how many clients you have?
A: I have personally sat with 1,000 people, and I have hundreds right now because people come and go. When people come to me, they must be serious about getting married. If they are not — and if I find out they are not — I tell them to come back when they are. But, in my opinion, there’s never going to be a time when a busy person is not going to be busy. You are either going to do this — or not.
Q: Would you ever be interested in doing a reality matchmaking show of your own?
A: There have been a number of studios that have contacted me since I started this wanting to know if I would be interested in doing a reality show. I have no problem with it because it would bring awareness about who the Chaldeans are and I think it would be interesting and people would enjoy it and be entertained by it. But, because this is a completely confidential service where not even last names are given for the date because people are interested in being private, I had people who were interested but didn’t want to follow through. They didn’t want to be in the limelight as being part of the service. It’s interesting because I had a 70 year old I married off, and I have people who are 19 years old. Some people really don’t mind, I’ve gone to a wedding and a mom came up to me and said, “Give me your card, I want to give them out.” And then other people say, “Try not to talk to me when you see me tonight. I don’t want people to know.” I just respect what ever people are comfortable with.
Q: You said you meet Patti Stanger when she came to Michigan in May. What was that like?
A: I enjoyed speaking to her. I found her to be very engaging and practical. She is a truly remarkable woman. She was down to Earth and easy going, and she gave a lot of good advice: To be open minded and willing to meet people.
Contact Frank Witsil: 313-222-5022 or email@example.com
Offices:Bloomfield Hills, Novi and Troy
Education:Mercy College, bachelor’s degree; Wayne State University, master’s degree; Oakland University, additional post-graduate study
Experience:Teacher for 30 years
Family:Husband, Farouk; two sons, two daughters