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Encounters International 10th Anniversary Celebrations
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November 2003

View our clients' coverage of EI 10th Anniversary Party.

It is with great pleasure that I announce the Encounters International Tenth Anniversary Celebration!

Saturday, November 29, 2003, 6:00 -12.00 PM

Tregaron Estate
3100 Macomb St. NW
Washington, DC 20008

Our program includes:
Cocktail Party and Russian and American Talent Show

In the foyer:
A photographic history of Encounters International
A video history of Encounters International

Tregaron Estate is the perfect location for the grand reunion of the past and present members of the Encounters International Family of Clients. Ten years of history being relived in a historical monument with both Russian and American ties. All couples from the past, as well as current engaged and singles are invited to this memorable event

This is quite literally a once-in-a-lifetime event that you don't want to miss!

HISTORY: In 1912, the family of Alexander Graham Bell sold the property to James Parmelee, who commissioned architect Charles Adams Platt to design the neo-Georgian mansion and grounds. Originally called "the Causeway," the estate was purchased in 1940 by Ambassador Joseph Davies and his wife, Marjorie Merriweather Post, upon their return from Russia, and renamed Tregaron (Welsh for "village of three wells"). The replica of Russian Dacha (summer house) became a nice addition to the estate. Washington International School acquired Tregaron in 1980.


The event is catered by our good friend and EI client Philippe C. Demol at
3Citron Caterers of Washington DC

Voted "Best Caterers for a Small Event" Washingtonian Magazine, January 2001
"Best Caterers for a small Wedding" Washingtonian Magazine, January 2002

"... run by a French Chef & a former London Punk rocker with a bend for hip, intimate affairs " Washingtonian Magazine, January 2003

If you have any questions regarding the details of your trip and the event or you just want to talk to Philippe as a client to client, please contact him directly.

This special event is by invitations only.
Please RSVP to Natasha Spivack at 301-530-7759 or natasha@encount.com


Where to Stay in Washington DC:

  • The best hotel/deal in the area is the Churchill on Conn Ave, NW. ( www.thechurchillhotel.com ). I spoke to the sales manager, Jennifer Anderson & she was able to offer a $ 89.00 rate for these dates. She can be contacted at 202 797 2000 or jennifer.anderson@ihrco.com
    It is within walking distance of Dupont Circle, Russian Cultural Center, the night life & a bunch of Cool Restaurants. Mention that you are calling in reference to the 3Citron Caterers Discount Price
  • The other hotel is the Embassy Suite on Mass Ave. ( corner of 22nd Street NW ) Also within 2 blocks of Dupont Circle. Their regular rate is $ 99.00 for that weekend. www.embassysuites.com 202 857 3778, ask for Jessica.
  • For the budget traveler: Call the Holiday Inn at 1501, Rhodes Island Avenue, NW. Ask for Kristin at 202 349 3025, She's worked-out a deal " off the record". (You must say that you are with Natasha's Party & you must speak with her, the sooner/the better).$79.00 !!!!! AND you are downtown !! Their web-site is www.inndc.com the main number is 202-483 2000.

What to do in Washington, DC:

If you want to know what's going on in town that weekend, check the http://www.washingtonianmagazine.com

This site publishes a good list of the going-ons in the city.

Russian culture in Washington, DC is presented by the Stanislavsky Theater showing a play by Fyodor Dostoievsky the Karamazov Brothers from Oct. 30th to Dec 21st- Box Office: 1 800 494 TIXS. http://www.sts-online.org


Ten Years in the Life of Encounters International


This was our inaugural year. Encounters International was the first personalized international matchmaking service focused on Russian women and American men. We had two full-time offices in Moscow, Russia and Bethesda, Maryland.

In those days, all communication was by international post mail - there was no lightning quick Internet. Contacts and responses were measured in weeks and months. We have addressed this major problem from the start.

We began using facsimile (fax) machines to cut the communication time substantially. Encounters International ventured into new territory by providing a response time guarantee. We guaranteed a ten-day response time to letters sent to Russian ladies. This was possible because of the speed of the fax and because we had full-time office managers in Moscow and Bethesda who handled all the communication.

We watched our clients exchanging multiple letters and traveling to Moscow while others buying addresses from mail order catalogs were still waiting for the first response. Within a few months, we had three engaged couples. They began working on the K-1 Fiancée process. We began helping them along this process as well.


This year, we began getting a lot of media attention. Russia, now free from Communism, was a new and interesting place for the Americans to see. Likewise, a real and open look at America was refreshing for Russians. Our first married couple Anastasia and Chris Ihlenfeld were featured in a Washington Post article. American television picked up the story. Soon, the BBC in London was on board. It did not take long for the newly 'free' Russian media to start talking about Encounters International.

Entrepreneurs from the former Soviet-era states came from under every rock seeking to team up with us. We decided to accept only one such offer in Tallinn, Estonia - our second overseas office.

"Why not have an open house?" Someone suggested that we should get our clients together for a special event. First, we had to find out what an 'open house' was! After some research and a lot of help from a small client base in the local area, we had the first annual Encounters International Open House. We had no idea how popular this event would become. How could we envision this first event becoming the centerpiece of the ten year anniversary celebration?


Once again, Encounters International broke new ground by offering a one-year guarantee of success. After only two years in existence, we were confident that our clients could begin the communications process and become engaged in twelve months - after all, the rate was already at about 95%. We decided to put a money back success guarantee in writing. We were confident in our desire for success. We wanted our clients to be equally as confident in their own success and in Encounters International.


We became focused in two areas. First, we leveraged the benefits of the emerging Internet communications tools. However, it was imperative to maintain our reputation as a personalized service. Faster communications without our matchmaking expertise was not acceptable.

Technology alone was not enough. Many of our clients came to us from other agencies that offered speedy communications services and nothing else. Unfortunately, some found out that speedy communications simply meant overseas scams could happen faster.

Encounters International remained involved in the counseling part of our clients' successes. Although we began using e-mail based communications, we were still there to help with introductions and cultural issues.


Encounters International opened our Kiev, Ukraine office. Ukraine and Ukrainian ladies are the second largest group of the population in the former Soviet Union. The time has come to start representing them in our database. We also decided to close the Tallinn, Estonia office. 12 married couples with 5 children born became a tangible result of that period.

The communications between the managers in Kiev and Moscow made it possible for our clients to visit both cities in a single trip. This strategic move improved the choices and, thus, success rate of our clients. We became the first agency with full-time offices in Kiev and Moscow.


Our annual Open House event continued to grow in popularity. This year, we featured a wedding. Elena Kobiakova from Kiev and Norman May from Virginia tied the knot during this year's spectacular event. Each year, we saw more married and engaged couples, as well as, single clients, prospective members and marriage-minded ladies attend the Open House. Also, it became obvious that a once-a-year gathering could no longer satisfy our clients' desire to meet more frequently.

So, we launched the Saturday Club Socials as an answer to numerous requests for monthly events! Our goal was to provide a safe, convenient and frequent gathering spot for everyone involved with Encounters International. With a continuously growing number of local single Russian ladies, the Saturday Club Socials provided a means for American men to meet them without traveling outside the country.


We found that some prospective clients wanted to have a look at the inner workings of Encounters International before committing to the program full time. We needed to balance the needs to these men along with the serious nature of the women already in the program. We did not want to expose our ladies to less serious so-called 'window shoppers.'

Therefore, we developed the Encounters International 'Get To Know Us' membership plan. It was specifically designed for those prospects that thought we and our ladies were too good to be true. One-third of the 'Get To Know Us' members actually become full time members. The other two-thirds have decided to decline the invitation for membership. The 'Get To Know Us' membership plan has become a good method of sorting casual prospects from serious potential clients.


'Y2K' brought together the largest gathering in the history of our 'Family of Clients.' This year we grew so much that it became possible to arrange a social event far away from Encounters international headquarters in Maryland. We were off to Disney World in Orlando, Florida for the Encounters International Millennium Celebration! The lights stayed on and the computers kept running.

Also, the romance continued for those who came from across the United Sates. We had numerous states represented by married couples and single men and ladies alike. It was a 'magical' time for us all.


Tragedy struck in the form of a fire at the home-based office here in Bethesda. Natasha was injured in the blaze. It was an uncertain time of what to do. It had been a good run; was it time to curtail or even quit our activities? We conferred with our local clients.

The response from the 'Family of Clients' was a firm; "Oh, hell no!" Our clients had watched and participated with us in building an international matchmaking success model. They came to our aide in many forms.

We received almost every kind of offer to help that could have been imagined. Saturday Club Socials continued at the homes of our clients. Clients turned out to be the perfect hosts for these monthly events, moreover, they enjoyed this new role.

The fire disaster turned out to be a blessing in disguise. We confirmed that the concept of 'Family of Clients' was real. It was not a cute marketing phrase. It was (and is) a way of life and bonding at Encounters International.


Once again, we accomplished a strategic expansion overseas. Encounters International opened our third office in Yaroslavl, Russia. Moscow and Kiev were considered to be too large for some of our clients. They desired to find a lady from a smaller town, much like where they lived. This wisdom inspired to opening of the outlying Yaroslavl agency office.


We have launched a new online password protected database designed for the ladies to view EI clients . This new feature has encouraged more ladies inside the USA to join Encounters International.

Wow! Has it been ten years already? Perhaps the best way to cover 2003 is to provide some success statistics.

  • Years in Business: 10
  • Ladies Active in Database: 420
  • Ladies residing in the USA: 72
  • Total Married Couples: 246
  • Total Engaged Couples: 23
  • Total Divorced Couples: 33
  • Moscow Married Couples: 146
  • Moscow Engaged Couples: 10
  • Kiev Married Couples: 61
  • Kiev Engaged Couples: 4
  • USA (locally) Married Couples: 24
  • USA (locally) Engaged Couples: 2
  • Yaroslavl Married Couples: 2
  • Yaroslavl Engaged Couples: 7
  • Tallinn Married Couples: 12
  • Total Children Born: 81
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