I'm sitting at an outdoor table in the patio of Café Standard, at the East Village's Standard Hotel, with Lacey Waterman, a senior art director at Partners & Spade.
Waterman, 30, spent a bulk of her career working freelance in New York and Los Angeles (her hometown), but now, with a stable job and a 1-year-old Chihuahua, this creative has come up with a uniquely, well, creative side-hustle: "Set me up on a guy that I go on 10 dates with, and I'll give you a thousand dollars."
She wrote up a proposal, had a friend organize a photo shoot and posted it all to her social networks and her website The Lacey Minimalist. "It's not a game, it's a new idea in millennial matchmaking. Hey, you don't get what you don't ask for, right?" She writes.
A thousand bucks is a lot of money. So my editor sent me, a 21-year-old intern with a serious girlfriend, on a date with Waterman. (I think he's secretly hoping to earn a finder's fee, or at least to provide Ad Age with a new revenue stream -- times are tough for publishers.)
But is it a date or an interview? Minutes after ordering drinks ("That's kind of nice, I haven't been carded in a while," Waterman says), the scale is tipping toward the latter.
Waterman, who has a knack for getting attention for herself, discussed the trials and tribulations of dating as a young creative in a tough city. Our conversation, lightly edited for flow and clarity:
This is the most bizarre assignment I've ever had.
So why are you doing this?
I want to get off the apps. I was on six or seven and it takes up so much time and it hasn't worked. I thought, "I'm a creative. How can I try something different?" So here I am.
What do you mean it took up so much time?
Basically, any time I had a free moment, I'm swiping — on the subway, between things. You could be texting multiple people at the same time. Usually, it'll lead to one in-person meeting. You have the same conversations with people over and over again.
The chief complaint seems to be that people spend more time on the app than actually meeting in person. Was that an issue for you?
No, I went on a lot of dates. I'm spontaneous. New York is spontaneous. If we don't meet within a few days, you'll never meet.
How'd you decide on $1,000? That's a lot of money.
It is, but hopefully I only have to pay one person.
What if you have multiple romantic whirlwinds? This could backfire, potentially.
Ok, honestly if it backfired and I went out with all these amazing guys and turned into "The Bachelorette" or something, that would be a great problem to have. But that's probably not going to happen.
When did you start putting this out there?
I just posted it last week on my social. I put it on my Instagram, Facebook and Tumblr. I got a lot of great support from other women. Old bosses, old mentors are like, "Girl power!"
Would you have ever done this while you were freelancing?
No, I needed to have a stable job. And I wanted to wait to be [at Partners & Spade] for a few weeks before I got any attention. But my co-workers are super supportive.
Does your schedule/lifestyle as a creative director make dating particularly challenging?
I think as a freelancer for the past three years it has been challenging. Going from an interview to a first date isn't a good idea, ever. You'd think constantly meeting new people would open up the dating pool, but it actually makes it smaller since I've never been a fan of dating people I work with. So that has been pretty much everyone I have met in the last three years. Now that I took a full-time job at Partners & Spade, it seems like the perfect time to do this social experiment.
If you're going to make your pitch for why someone should go on a date with you, what would it be?
There's no pitch!
There's gotta be a pitch.
I created the #LaceyMinimalist as my social about a year and a half ago. It's my Tumblr for work, so if companies are hiring me to work on social, I should have my own account that shows a point of view. It shows what I do, who I am. There's nothing I'm not willing to put on it. It's all out there.
Are you a minimalist?
A legit minimalist? Like from the Netflix documentary about the guys who write books about minimalism?
I've seen that. I don't understand that if they don't own books, why are they selling books? They should have made it an e-book. They're selling clutter to everyone else!