Lara Shiffman is the most successful Chicago matchmaker you can’t hire. With dozens of relationships, five marriages, and 11 babies to her credit, Shiffman’s matches are the stuff of legend, fairy tale—or at least a very profitable business. The irony? She’s not even a professional.
“My whole life I’ve introduced people, both in business and socially,” says the irrepressible blonde, who runs the strategic consulting firm JKLS PR with her business partner, Jill Katz (who met her husband through Shiffman). “I do this out of love for my friends, not as a career or for any type of compensation. I just want my friends to be happy.”
With marquee clients like Barneys New York, Sprinkles Cupcakes, Public hotel, the Pump Room, and W Hotels Chicago, Shiffman has built a thriving business on her uncannily instinctive feel for effective partnerships, both professional and personal. “We bring together like-minded brands all the time that can benefit from crossmarketing opportunities, which is exactly what I try to do when I introduce two people I know and love,” she says.
Luckily for them, Shiffman knows and loves a lot of people—she’s a veritable Gladwell-esque “connector.” And beyond her skills as a publicist and event planner, she offers a little extra—call it the personal touch: “It is her innate ability to truly have a sense for the type of person that would be a good match for one another,” says Katz.
“She obviously possesses a gift for seeing how two people may be a match,” says entrepreneur Spiro Tsaparas, who lives on the Gold Coast with his girlfriend Corri McFadden, owner of Edrop-off and star of the VH1 reality show House of Consignment.
Tsaparas met Shiffman through a mutual friend while looking for a firm to organize an event. “I didn’t know at the time that included in the package was a girlfriend,” the construction company CEO jokes. “At the end of our first meeting she asked me if I was seeing anyone. I said, No, I am single, and she said, ‘We have to do something about that!’”
Later on, Shiffman invited him to a party, promising that she had someone special for him to meet.
Jill and Howard Katz are among the couples that Shiffman has introduced
“Lara grabbed my arm and said, ‘Come with me—I want to introduce you to someone amazing,’ and from that point on Corri and I have been together,” says Tsaparas. “The chemistry was apparent after a few dates; we moved in together just a few months after we met. That was three years ago.”
“My rationale,” says Shiffman, “is that if I enjoy the company of two individuals, they will probably like each other as well.”
Shiffman undoubtedly has a knack for putting people together. “To make the perfect match, you need to be a good listener and have a great understanding of what someone is truly looking for in life, a relationship, and love,” she explains. She describes her moment of inspiration as a “gut feel.”
And here’s some advice for the lovelorn: She doesn’t believe that opposites attract. “Similar goals in life are the key to creating and cementing a relationship,” Shiffman says.
Interestingly, none of the couples actually asked Shiffman to set them up, and yet many commented on how “natural” it felt. “She does it with such ease, not just with me, but with others she has matched as well,” says Katz.
“I love that I’ve been able to make people happy in their lives,” says Shiffman. “Marriage and family are truly the most important things to me. There is nothing better than a loving husband and great kids.”
Just as you’d expect, Shiffman has been the guest of honor at all five weddings she made possible; she even signed the ketubah [the Jewish marriage license] at Katz’s wedding.
As for Tsaparas and McFadden? The couple is “talking marriage,” and Tsaparas adds, “Corri has already started buying kids’ clothes… I must say that I am very excited.”
Will Shiffman be invited to his wedding, which would be her sixth?