Written by Sofia Deeb
When it comes to finding love, some of us wait to be struck by Cupid’s arrow...others call Amber Kelleher-Andrews. If you live in Santa Barbara, you may recognize Amber as a friendly local face–or maybe you’ll recognize her from the hit NBC television series, Ready for Love. As Co-CEO of Kelleher International, Amber has built a career on helping people find their special someone. Her internationally recognized celebrity matchmaking service, based right here in Montecito, has been most notably linked to clients such as Jennifer Anniston, Paula Abdul, and even members of the British Royal Family. Amber is dedicated to helping people find lasting love–especially those with busy careers and little time for dating. With Valentine’s Day approaching, we were eager to sit down with her and hear all about what life’s like as a Montecito matchmaker!
How did you first get started as a matchmaker?
My mother Jill Kelleher founded "the original" matchmaking service in the late 1980s in Sausalito, CA. Back in the day when videos were just starting to come out, she co-owned a company that was ahead of the times and started video dating for singles, which we’re starting to see again now with the global pandemic. However, back in the 80s it took too long to share videos as there was no social media. As a result, she found herself matching the members before their videos were completed! That’s when the light bulb went off that there was a need to screen, connect and vet an elite group of passionate entrepreneurs that didn’t randomly date or even make videos of themselves. She concluded that not everyone wants their faces on public platforms. Thirty years later, not much has changed. People like discretion and don’t have time to waste. She enjoyed matching her clients so much that she left her partners and formed her own personalized matchmaking company called Kelleher.
I worked for her on and off while in college and in the summers. Eventually I moved to Santa Monica and decided to help her out full time and took over the Southern California territory and from there we’ve continuously opened in cities across the US.
Why did you decide to relocate your company to Montecito?
When the pandemic began we moved our headquarters to Montecito as my family had moved there in 2019. We love living in Montecito with all the beaches within walking distance, the beautiful sunsets, and surrounded by so many outdoor activities to enjoy.
As the virus progressed our employees and staff could no longer go into the building of our Kelleher Headquarters in the San Francisco Bay–so we relocated our headquarters closer to where I live, and we found the perfect place in downtown Montecito. All our employees now work remotely from homes around the globe and frequent our beach HQ in Montecito to connect with teammates, meet clients face to face, and have fun working from the beach.
What is the process you go through to create a match?
The true beauty behind Kelleher International is the relationships that we build. We transform lives through purposeful connection and love.
In doing this, we get to know our clients well and vet them thoroughly during the initial onboarding process. We learn what is behind their public personas; it’s an intimate relationship built on trust. We learn what gets them out of bed in the morning and what they are truly looking for in life, work, health, and of course in love. We too love what we do and feel blessed and fortunate to hold these special relationships with some of the most extraordinary singles in the world.
How do potential clients go about requesting your services?
We work with both men and women who are serious about finding a lasting relationship and/or marriage. The majority of our clientele come from referrals. We select a small group of eligible singles to work for each year so those nominated by existing clients have our first approvals. Many people, however, have seen us as relationship experts on the news or national shows. I have many people tell me they see me in the airline’s magazines all the time, and people snap photos and email me pictures of them on trips together holding up our ad on the plane. It’s fun!
Do you have a favorite match you’ve made?
Recently, while having a wonderful girls’ birthday lunch and champagne at Caruso's, to my surprise someone at a table nearby paid our rather expensive bill. As I turned around there were three smiling faces. Our former client Matt and his gorgeous wife Ania (who he met from my match over 10 years ago) and their darling little boy. I had matched them when Matt took a business trip to London in 2008. He asked if there was “someone special” for him to meet overseas. Right away, I thought of Ania, but she lived in Poland. Matt asked me to arrange the date and said he would fly to Poland if I felt she was “the one.” They fell in love immediately and all these years later, here they were at Rosewood Miramar Beach, having Sunday brunch next to my table. Ania came over to me and thanked me so much for her beautiful family and for thinking of her–all the way from Poland! She told me that her life is beyond belief and so wonderful and they all shared just how happy they are. It was a beautiful, unexpected birthday gift for me.
What’s in store for the future of your business?
Kelleher is already the world’s most exclusive matchmaking firm, but what makes us truly unique is that our passionate community is made up of global leaders who seek adventure and purpose, as well as love. We look forward to successfully partnering with philanthropic organizations globally as well as partnering with our very own members’ charities and foundations by arranging intimate gatherings around what they are most passionate about.
Our exclusive club allows members to take part in life changing events. Our trips of a lifetime include personally organized safaris to meet and help save endangered species, swimming with whales, saving the rainforest in Panama, and much more. Our exclusive groups go from the Panama rainforest of the sacred Mamoni Valley, to meeting on lavish yachts in the beautiful Port de Cannes–all while collectively creating a positive impact together for people and the planet. So, whether our club members head to horse racing in Dubai or meet at a 30,000 acre eco-preserve along the Mexican coastline of Cuixmala, love and purpose will always be central. We have a lot of fun, it’s always an adventure, and true romance is not only possible in KI Social, but is expected.
What is your favorite part about living in Santa Barbara?
It has everything! It’s such a beautiful place, from the beaches to the restaurants, the shopping, Rosewood Miramar Beach, and our beautiful headquarters near the ocean. It is fascinating to me that I can have my favorite restaurant, professional businesses like passports and DMV, and the best shopping all on the same street. Santa Barbara built the city the right way. There is no place quite like it. Also coming from the North Bay, I noticed how nice everyone is in this beach town. Maybe it’s the fresh sea air, but everyone is so kind and I truly find it to be the perfect place for my husband and I to raise our children.
Can you share with us a little bit about your philanthropic efforts?
We have numerous philanthropic ventures we take part in. Sir Richard Branson with Virgin Unite and Necker Island is something special. Necker Island is a philanthropic effort that allows us to enthusiastically live out our dream of bringing together intimate groups of remarkable change-makers and international business leaders to collaborate together and make a significant difference in the world. We partner with Wild Aid, Janie’s Fund, Ocean Elders, and many more. We bring awareness to numerous causes and help save endangered species while raising millions of dollars for these organizations.
How do you balance these many different aspects of your life?
This can be tough as a mother of three. I like to meditate first thing in the morning to set my energy off in the correct way. Organizing my time and blocking out my schedule for “me time” is essential. As the CEO of Kelleher-International obviously my days are never the same and things are changing constantly. I have a great team behind me, and I pride myself on balancing it all. I see life as an ever-evolving opportunity to learn, share, love, and laugh. I am a glass flowing over type of girl and any time a problem or challenge arises, I see room for growth. I try my best to instill this in my children as well as in my matchmaking team. You have to love yourself and love life no matter what–before you can help others find the love of their lives, it’s just part of the job!