This CEO and mom of three connects rich men and the young ladies who want them.
Vivian Manning-Schaffel: Simone Dadoun-Cohen is an entrepreneur, former exotic dancer, wife, mother of three, and pot-stirrer. Her website, EstablishedMen.com, seems recession-proof, as it counts over 250,000 affluent men and beautiful young women among its members. One of the only "Sugar Daddy" sites with a female at the helm, Established Men was recently profiled on Nightline, which posed the question as to whether Dadoun-Cohen is a thinly veiled pimp of sorts.
Judge for yourself. Fresh from an infomercial shoot for Established Men, Simone Dadoun-Cohen filled us in on matters men and mommyhood.
Momlogic: Tell me how you came up with the idea for Established Men.
Simone Dadoun-Cohen: I'm 30 right now, but when I was in my very early twenties, I needed to support myself and pay for school. I decided to work at a gentlemen's club. One would have thought, horrible experience, seedy environment, but it was the complete opposite. It was actually a fabulous experience. I had the opportunity to dance for some of the most influential men in the city. They were intelligent, educated, successful, and definitely generous.
Being in that type of environment, I came to wonder, where would I actually meet a man like this? Where could a young, beautiful, ambitious woman find a man like that outside of a strip club? How many women are even willing to put themselves in this kind of position? I actually met my husband at the gentlemen's club, and that inspired me to give back to the rest of the female community and give them the opportunity to meet a man of that caliber, so they too could go ahead and meet someone they were truly compatible with, to build a life with.
ML: So you have three kids?
SDC: Six, four, and 19 months -- two girls and a boy.
ML: How do you balance your job with your children?
SDC: As important as Established Men is to me, as important as other projects are, my primary focus was and always will be my husband and children. One of the things I always wanted was to be in a position where I could stay home with my kids, especially at the beginning, when they were spending more time at home.
How do we balance it? I'm not going to pretend that I don't have help. I don't think there's any shame in having help. My incredible nanny is my third arm, and sometimes my first and second too. My husband has a flexible schedule and he pitches in wherever he can. My parents don't live in the country, and unfortunately my husband lost his parents, so having really good friends that you can call every now and again is a very important thing.
ML: What do you have to say when people conclude that what you've put forth is a form of prostitution?
SDC: I'm always prepared for that question -- it's a very sensational question. That said, I really and truly don't agree with it. I came from a world where a lot of women were compromising themselves for sex. I understand what that feels like, and how awful and demeaning that can truly be. The man that I met and eventually married was so kind and so respectful. When we were still client and dancer, it was a really balanced relationship. It was important to me that when we launched the website, both the men and women who signed on would be able to find someone that they could establish that balance with as well.
We don't have a transactional component to the website. Some of the other websites in the "sugar daddy" space, most of them do -- where women will actually put into their profile that this is the allowance that they require. We don't have that. It's not about dollars and cents. It's about building that mutually beneficial commonality, that lifestyle together. I understand why people ask, but it's really something they don't understand.
ML: With a website that focuses on "beautiful women" who date "established men," as a mom, when the time comes, what message does this send to your kids? How will you handle your daughter's self-image issues as she enters the dating arena?
SDC: When I say "beautiful, ambitious women," it's not about who I find beautiful, or even who the men on the site find beautiful. It's that they find themselves beautiful. I went through a time when I felt inadequate -- regardless of how I looked. It's really important to dig deep and find things that make you feel beautiful.
My 6-year-old recently came to me, wishing her hair or eyes were a different color. We made a list of all the things that are fabulous about her -- it didn't come from me, it was her responsibility. Then we actually made a circle around all those beautiful attributes, and around the circumference, we wrote the names of all the people that love her, so she could see how important she is and how beautiful she is to all these people. She has it up on her wall, and it helped reinforce to her how incredible she is.
People are attracted to physical beauty, and there's no shame in that. It forces us to look at ourselves. There's nothing wrong with aspiring to a certain ideal, the ideal just has to be your own.
ML: When it's time for your daughter to date, would you recommend she visit your website?
SDC: Men and women mature at such a different rate. As far as I can see, young women and their male counterparts aren't always at the same stage in life. If she was having a hard time finding someone she was compatible with, absolutely I would recommend she go on the site. Of course, I might exercise a little mommy control and sift through some of the profiles first.
|Vivian Manning-Schaffel has written for Babble, Parenting, The Advocate, The New York Post, Business Week and a variety of other publications and lives and works in the heart of breeder Brooklyn with her husband and two kids. She authors two pop culture blogs: The Mad Mom and A Hag Supreme, and is on the web at vivianmanningschaffel.com.|