Brainz Magazine Exclusive Interview
Daphney Poyser is the Founder and CEO of Fern Connections, a LGBTQIA+ Matchmaking and Date & Relationship Coaching company. Prior to starting her company, Poyser worked for over twenty-five years in the tech sector; she would later bring that same analytical and strategic energy to build the scaffolding of her company.
After retiring from corporate America Poyser, who in a prior life was titled the “Fundraising Queen” for her philanthropic success in connecting students within the Black community with college scholarships, began to ruminate on the ways in which she could continue to utilize her expertise to further be a champion for disenfranchised communities. This inevitably led her towards connections with individuals searching to make a similar impact, one of which, in a fortuitous turn of events, directed her towards the Matchmaking Institute.
Regarding the Institute, Poyser mentioned that the program she received her accreditation from “really was a launching pad for me, not just because I saw myself as a Matchmaker, but especially because of what I didn’t see happening within the world of Matchmaking at large.” A natural problem solver, the future Matchmaker immediately noticed a lack of diversity within the world she had entered into.
On Fern Connections’ website it says that as a part of their mission they aspire to inspire individuals to live and love in their truth, and that’s exactly what Poyser has accomplished here. With headquarters in Texas, Georgia, and Colorado, the company has expanded at a rapid rate in the last two and a half years, and they don’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. From a feature in The New York Times to a contract to help cast for a reality dating show, the engine on this Queer Matchmaking and Coaching company is running full steam ahead!
Can you tell us more about your work and how you ended up where you are today?
I felt like there wasn’t much being done to represent Queer people, people of color, individuals over fifty. Individuals who had always been kept out, continued to remain on the sidelines; I wanted to see my community flourish in the way I knew only they could. It was in this space that I saw my opportunity to change the future; to create her own company founded on the principles of greater gender, sexual, cultural, and romantic inclusivity.
We did an in-person date night event recently in Dallas [Texas], and we had so many couples come to participate. The events which are currently taking place online and in-person in Texas and Atlanta are open to anyone regardless of sexuality or relationship status. Most of the couples that showed up to our event were straight-presenting, cis-gender couples. To see so many straight couples come to an event run by an openly Queer company that services the LGBTQIA+ community, it was surprising, but it renewed my faith in what we should expect from human beings–kindness, acceptance and inclusivity. However as many of us know, bigotry is far too common against the Queer community, and it’s not everyday that you see the level of allyship that takes place at Fern Connections events. I’m a straight, cis-woman, and I still get a lot of flack [to this day] from people in and out of the Queer community for starting my company. But I felt comfortable starting my company because I knew that there were other allies out there just like me, who if given the opportunity would come to help support the community I have lived my entire life around; and come they did.
What is Date Planning?
The idea, like most of the things we do here, came from a conversation with one of the people on my team. The new service which will cater to both singles and couples alike will allow individuals to delegate all the stressors of planning a night out–where to go, making reservations, knowing when you and the other person in your party are free–allowing them to delight in only the best parts of date night: spending quality time with their significant other. When I started my business I wanted it to be a multi-dimensional, one-stop shop for individuals within the LGBTQIA+ community and their allies. We work with singles, couples. We'll coach you on how to fight fair in your arguments. We’ll plan your dates, hell we’ll even plan your proposal! Adding a familiar yet lighthearted touch to one of the most important days in many individuals lives. At the end of the day, I am so incredibly proud of the work that my team and I are doing to service our community, and knowing that we can help people to make and preserve these connections is one of the few things that allows me to actually rest easy at night.
What do you think about for example Tinder and such apps?
I am not a huge fan of dating apps but if I had to choose a few to recommend to people I would go with Hinge and Match. I think that Hinge does a good job of diversifying the features in their app, and Match runs a lot of in-person events which is a nice, controlled way to meet other singles. I have clients who use dating apps who I coach on how to effectively and safely use apps to their advantage. I walk them through how to set up their profiles, help them select potential partners, even help them plan what to say to keep the conversation going or spark initial interest. I personally use dating apps and have matched with several wonderful people over the years using these methods, which is why I wanted to show others how to have an effective approach with using them.
Can anyone join your service or are you targeting a specific target group?
We try to be as inclusive as possible, keeping in mind that our main focused demographic is the queer, gay and ally community. We want to ensure that we are providing a safe place for our clients so that they don’t have to worry about being rejected for who they are.
What are your current goals for your business?
We have been in business for three years and one of the main goals is for us to be a centralized source for the queer, gay and ally community. Somewhat of a one stop shop when it comes to dating, coaching, events and relationships.
Who inspires you to be the best that you can be?
My family, my close network of friends and the people that I get to work with on a daily basis. I love the work that we do and I would not trade it for anything else right now.
Tell us about your greatest career achievement so far.
Being featured in the New York Times earlier this year was something that I could have never imagined in my wildest dreams. On a more personal level, as a Mom, having my kids support what I do is a wonderful accomplishment to me. I could not be more happy knowing that they are proud of what I am able to accomplish on this new and exciting journey of my life.
If you could change one thing about your industry, what would it be and why?
That everyone would be able to afford this type of service and no one would be excluded for being their authentic selves.
Tell us about a pivotal moment in your life that brought you to where you are today.
After becoming a widow in 2019 my life was automatically being transformed so I decided that I would take this opportunity to create the life I want to live going forward, truly live as my authentic self and do the things that bring me the most joy everyday. Helping people find love and happiness is definitely at the top of my list. I believe that if you help other people get what they want then the universe will in return give you what you want. It’s that simple.
Fern Connections is currently accepting new clients who either reside full-time or part-time within the continental U.S. To learn more about their company and receive more information about the services they offer, head over to their website