Cleveland Business Connects

For immediate release (October 6, 2017) Media Contact: Judy Abelman Email: Phone: 440.725.8861...

Photo by Doug Khrenovsky

Reeling from her own divorce, Sheila Hall-Blagg sought advice on how to cope. Fruitless in her attempt, she started her own social networking website to help men and women in similar positions. Five years later she is happily remarried and certified as a divorce mediator and is savvy enough to “hold her own” in the world of IT.

Q: Looking back, what was scarier for you — the thought of becoming a divorcee or the thought of becoming an entrepreneur?

A: Becoming an entrepreneur. I truly never saw myself getting a divorce, but I’ve always known that I wanted to own my own business. Going through my divorce was a cluster mess of emotions, but I don’t recall fear being one of them.

Q: You remarried two years after your divorce. Was this before or after you started your website?

A: When I divorced, two of my best friends were also divorcing. Each of us was struggling with the emotional roller coaster but seeking something completely different. One wanted to date, one wanted to make up for “lost time,” and, myself, I was looking for advice, an ear, and support. I was unable to locate any one resource that combined all of our needs. I set out to change that. So, Divorce 2 Dating was an idea I had prior to remarrying but was created and went live after. My husband actually named the website. Although I’m happily remarried, the website continues to be a helpful resource for me. Especially when dealing with ex-spouses.
Q: Your company is nearly five years old. How is business?

A: We are a work in progress. Currently Divorce 2 Dating is receiving a new look, new resources, and dating program. Meanwhile, the older website remains live and continues to grow.

Q: What kind of technical background did you have before starting your website?

A: Zero! I didn’t even have a Facebook page.

Q: How long did it take to build your website?

A: About three years.

Q: Once finished, you experienced a major setback. What happened and how did you resolve the problem?

A: Not long after we launched we received notice that the hosting we used for our website would remove many of the permissions we required as a social networking website to function, essentially buckling us. To ensure this would not be a recurring issue, we would need to build the website in house on our own server. I had to find an additional programmer that would be willing to work with future gain in mind because I did not have the means to offer a salary. Once I had a team in place, which consisted of two part-time programmers, designers, and a couple interns, the work began. Almost two years later we went live.

Q: Do you consider yourself an IT expert now?

A: Absolutely not. However, I am not the girl I was when I started. I am not a programmer, but I am educated on programming language, platforms, e-commerce, hosting, and servers. I can now hold my own.

Q: What is your background in divorce mediation?

A: I became a divorce mediator to educate myself on the process of mediation, fighting for custody or visitation (I personally didn’t experience). I wanted the ability to understand the process. I also became a guardian ad litem through the Ohio Supreme Court.

Q: What type of staff helps you on that front?

A: We have professionals on the website, such as attorneys, counselors, financial advisors, and life coaches among other professionals. They are not Divorce 2 Dating staff; however, they are professionals chosen to help members if needed.

Q: How does your site differ from a dating site?

A: Dating websites only offer dating. Dating is about 5 percent of what I concentrate on. The other 95 percent is support, blogging, articles, and social networking between members who are dealing with or have gone through a separation, divorce or ending of a long-term relationship.
Dating is not something I feel should be rushed into, so when my members are ready, we provide them with the means to do so.

Q: Do you cater equally to women and men?

A: Yes, absolutely. We provide resources for both, specifically tailored for our members based on gender.

Q: How has the website evolved over four-plus years?

A: Wow, now that’s a loaded question. The look, resource fees, and adding privileges. We’ve added games and quizzes to make it somewhat lighter and fun. What has never changed is my immense want to help my members come through their situations stronger, happier and looking forward to the future.

Q: How much is membership and what should customers expect to receive in return?

A: Our membership for joining the website is free. Events are pay-to-participate. The professionals pay a fee to use the website. We do not allow the professionals to reach out to our members, but they tend to blog helpful articles concerning their particular areas of practice. Members talk with other members concerning their situations, blog, read articles, contact the professionals (if they choose to do so), and, when ready, date.

Q: What are some of the most popular topics for users?

A: Grieving for their marriage; dealing with the loss of what they thought their future would be. How to let go of the hurt from the past. How do I deal with my ex dating? Dating again. Where do I begin? Sex with a new partner.

Q: What is some of your best advice?

A: For starting a business or dealing with divorce? Take care of yourself. Deal with your situation, whatever it may be moment to moment. Starting a business, you have a business plan, milestone, and end goals. It appears to be cut and dry. Notice I said, “appears.” You have to be willing to compromise. Open your mind to options that you’ve not considered. Don’t get so caught up in “ownership” that you are unwilling or unable to listen to suggestions. Going through a divorce really is a grieving process. It’s one that should not be rushed nor is it one that you should set up camp in. Deal with your feelings as they come. Deal and let it go. Divorce is a part of your life — not your entire life and certainly not your identity. At the end of every day, pick five great things that happened that day and one or two bad ones. The following day correct (if possible) the one or two negative items and add them to the list of five things you’re thankful for. It’s simple but powerful and works.

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