Boy goes to bar hoping to meet girl. Girl gets all dressed up looking meet boy. Boy gets too nervous. Girl girl chickens out. They both leave, alone.
If this story sounds all too familliar, you might need some help. And not just bland dating advice, but a dynamic, real-live person who can help break the ice or put in a good word for you to that girl or boy who catches your eye at the bar.
That's Hire a Boston Wing Woman, a female-founded company started in November of 2010 by South End resident Susan Baxter.
"It’s a new concept to this area," Baxter said. "This is the only one of its kind in New England."
A South End Entrepreneur
Baxter said she first heard of the idea through similar wing women companies based in New York and Las Vegas. But she knew it could for the Boston social scene, which is generally pretty cold to newcomers and hard for individuals to bridge social circles, she said.
"You go to Chicago, and you get, 'How are you, where are you from,' when you go to a bar, but in Boston people keep to themselves and hang out with their cliques, Baxter said. "For someone who is new to the city or someone who is not as outgoing, it can be intimidating to go up to that hot girl across the bar. That's where we help people through the process."
Although she had no experience in startup companies - Baxter spent most of her educational and professional life in medical field - when she had a self-proclaimed "early mid-life crisis" she turned to what she felt she did best: Making connections with people. Flash forward two years later, and Baxter now employs more than 40 women who help others find the person they're looking for.
Hiring a Wing Woman
Baxter said she works with her clients in several different ways. Clients can have their wing woman break the ice with someone at the bar - "I LOVE that necklace, where did you get it?" - make the client seem popular or desireable or just put in a good word for them when the time is right - "Joe is a great guy, you should give him a chance."
Baxter employs women of all ages, backgrounds and social scenes and sends wing women and their clients to places where they're in their element. She also helps clients decide where to go to both feel at ease and meet the people they are trying to meet.
Prices for the service aren't cheap - it starts at $144 an hour for the first two hours, then $32 for each additional hour - but Baxter says more often than not, clients do leave with phone numbers, or at least email addresses. And even if a tangible result isn't attained, Baxter said her clients benefit from the increased self-confidence of knowing what it takes to approach someone in a bar.
"I just had a client tell me that before he used my service he was feeling pathetic, but after going out with a wing woman, he realized it's not that big of a deal to go up to someone," said Baxter. "They make a big deal out of it, and they're so worried and stressed, but we just hang out with them and make sure they're having fun, with the goal being to meet someone."
Places to Meet in the South End
Although Baxter herself lives in the South End, she acknowledged it's not a great place to meet someone, save for a few places and various events at the Cyclorama.
"The Beehive is great for conversation, and there's Clery's," she said. "But I like to suggest to clients to go to places like Bolyston Street where there's several bars all in a row, or the Seaport."
Baxter boasts dates and relationships have started through clients using her service, which is open to straight and gay clients.
"Anyone can use a wing woman, whether you're a geeky nerd who wants to get out from behind the computer or just looking to accelerate the number of phone numbers you get when you go out," she said. "It's a fun way of approaching people and it's such an advantage."