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Meet the husband and wife duo behind Real Black Love, the groundbreaking matchmaking service for African-American professionals seeking meaningful connections. During our exclusive interview with Joseph and Paris Dixon, we learned how they transformed the landscape of online dating through slow and steady growth. Join us as they share how they met, why their business evolved, and how they plan to innovate and empower black love in the digital age.

What made dating difficult for people back in 2013?

(Joseph) In 2013, I think people were a little bit over the club scene, so they were getting a little bit older, but they didn’t know where to turn to as well. And then, of course, online dating was definitely a new venture that a lot of people didn’t know how to navigate. Not saying it’s not possible, but having success finding someone in the club or lounge is going to be far-fetched. But at the same time, what else do I have to turn to? And this online dating thing was somewhat new, and I was not sure if I wanted to do it. So basically, people were a little bit out of options as far as how to meet people. Of course, you’ve got church, you’ve got social, civic groups, and stuff like that. But if you’re not a part of any of that stuff, then what do you do?

When did you decide that you had to be a part of the solution?

(Joseph) I decided that I had to be a part of the solution when I got divorced. When I got divorced, I’m sitting here like, okay, where do I go? What do I turn to? And I tried the avenues that I just literally stated, and I’m like, oh, this ain’t it. I’m like, no, I’m not inclined to meet women at a club for relationships because, like I said, it’s a far-fetched idea finding a good relationship there. And then me trying social media and the dating apps, that was kind of hard because the platforms that were presented to me weren’t feasible for me. I wasn’t satisfied with the options out there, so I was like, you know what? I’m not the only person out here that’s ready to settle down and try to find something substantial, professional, early in the career, looking for their significant other. So that’s why I decided to go ahead and throw my towel in and say, hey, let me go ahead and make something for other people as well, not just myself.

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What gave you the faith to quit your full-time job?

(Joseph) What gave me the faith? I always say God’s got me anyways, you know, no matter what I do. I do have a higher belief, and I believe that if I step out in faith and I do it the right way, that God’s going to get me, you know what I’m saying? So that was one of them. Second, just knowing that I do have a higher purpose here. I didn’t know exactly what it was, but I knew I had a higher calling on my life. And then just knowing that I’m not operating at my best, my greatest ability, I felt that my talents and skills weren’t really helping. You know, I’m here. I think I’m here to serve, right? And I felt that my service, even in the careers I was in, still wasn’t to the greatest of my ability to really help people out.

How would you describe your online dating journey?

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(Paris) My online dating journey really evolved. When online dating came out, it was very strange to date online. I don’t look that old, but I’m 35, so when we first had the introduction of chat rooms, that’s some of the first online dating that ever happened. Facebook came along, and people started basically dating through Facebook. So these avenues of online dating were very new to me in college, and I thought it was very weird. I would say, who the hell is this online dating? You don’t know who’s in that chat house, because before there was a term for catfish, there were people that were catfishing, like, you don’t know who is on the other side of the You Got Mail. You know what I’m saying? You’re watching those types of movies, like, who am I going to meet, who am I talking to? So no, I didn’t trust online dating. I was very skeptical of it. I wanted to meet somebody organically in person, and that’s how I met my children’s father, my first husband.

This is my second marriage, and I didn’t really trust online dating, but once I got divorced and I had to learn how to date online, I came back out to the dating market, and I saw that it had changed. Like, it changed a lot from, like, 2008 to, like, 2017 when I first started dating again.

That’s an 11-year window from the last time that I was, like, technically single. So I was trying to learn how to date in 2017, and I sucked. It was terrible for me. I went on all the wrong apps and websites, so it took me a while to really trust another dating app, and I eventually gave it a try during the early pandemic, and I tried RBL, which is actually my dating app now, because I met my husband on there. But really, I was just looking for a different dating app that wasn’t, like, the mainstream dating app, where I didn’t have to thumb for hours just to find a black man. I like dating black men, but as being a minority in this country, not a lot of dating apps really had an abundance of black men that I could easily match with and view their profiles, which led me to RBL.

Did you know Joseph was the founder before you signed up?

(Paris) No, I didn’t. I didn’t know that he was the founder. He just put entrepreneur on his profile for his occupation, right? And we didn’t dive into what type of entrepreneur, and I never dated based on occupation. I dated based on the individual. It’s nice to know a person’s work schedule. That’s the only reason why I would ask something like, how much time you have available? Are you a doctor? What’s your schedule and do I have to just fit in, or do you have a nine to five? And that was ultimately what I was looking for, and as long as I knew that he was going to be available whenever I wanted to interact with him, that was good enough for me. We spent a lot of time getting to know each other, background, kids, hobbies, likes, all of those different things. So, no, I didn’t know he was the founder, and he purposely didn’t tell women that he was the founder of RBL or any dating app until he had dated them for, you know, a couple months or so.

Photos by Crystal at Picture Studios in Greensboro | Follow On Instagram @RentMyStudio

Why do you think the site was able to grow so fast?

(Joseph) It didn’t grow fast. I wish it did, but I think everything happens for a reason. It grew faster. I think it grew fast to the ability of what I could do with it because I was a one-man show. So yeah, it grew fast in that retrospect, in the retrospect. But in regards to, you know, some of these sites just popping up and just going viral and really taking off is because of what’s behind them, you know, the engine behind them. So, you know, I’m happy the way it grew because it is more grassroots and people believe in it more because now they can look back on it like, well, this thing has been around for 10 years. This thing has been around for more than 10 years and they’re still going. You know, he has to believe in this. It has to be something he really believes in because he’s been doing it for so long. It’s not something that just came out of nowhere and popped off.

So, no, it didn’t go fast. It grew fast enough for where I was at because if it grew too fast, I wouldn’t be able to navigate, you know, the ups and downs of a fast, really fast growing company. So it grew to a point where it should have grown.

(Paris) This was an organic company that started in 2013. It really started to pick up, I would say, more in, like, 2015, 2016, but it went through that real small business growth. Joseph grew the movement of Real Black Love. It started as a website first and then it transformed into a dating app. With a dating app, it took time to grow the following, so it didn’t grow overnight. It took its steps and its leaps and bounds, and it still continues to grow, but I think one of the things that has caused it to grow really fast is the fact that our dating app is an authentic dating app. It’s not full of a bunch of bots, scammers, fake profiles, which some are, let’s just be honest, and that’s why that it’s grown at a steady pace, because it is organic, gaining new members from the public and from our different marketing endeavors.

How do you plan to grow the brand in future years?

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(Joseph) Paris and I, we really have a lot of opportunity, and we have a lot of vision as well. Definitely bringing on more people to assist. A company can’t really grow to a huge stature without bringing on more people. And I learned that the hard way. You know, I tried to do everything by myself, you know, and I realized that I can only take the company but so far. So we have new team members. We’re bringing on new team members and smart, brilliant people. That’s how you grow a company.

We are trying to make Real Black Love, RBL, a household name and let people know that there is a company out here that has their best interests in mind. We’re really trying to help them establish great relationships.

(Paris) We have a lot of different objectives to accomplish in order to grow the brand. One avenue that we’re looking at is actually really focusing on HBCUs, because I’m a firm believer that HBCUs get everything hot. I remember being in college, and Netflix was being introduced, and people were like, go on Netflix, and I remember when they were doing DVDs, and now we can first introduce the streaming, and then just understanding how the technology age really hit our HBCUs and our colleges. I remember Facebook starting as a college thing, and people finding out about it four years later, and I’m like, what? We’ve been hot, Facebook. It had been really crazy that people were such late adopters to things I’d already been exposed to, so I believe that if you get it hot in the colleges, if you get the younger generation that is dating and teach them to date the correct way, then you’re going to build brand loyalty and a familiarity to that particular group of people that is going to sustain your business long-term. So we want a heavy influence of marketing, promoting, and giving promotional services to HBCU students and college students.

Photos by Crystal at Picture Studios in Greensboro | Follow On Instagram @InsideMonthly