Female eyes for the straight guy

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November 29, 2004 // UPDATED 4:47 pm - April 25, 2007
By: Sarah McKenzie
Sarah McKenzie

Can two 'mistresses of fab' re-make lonely lads into dating dreamboats?

Jason Saari admits he's clueless about women.

The 34-year-old Roseville computer programmer has enlisted the help of two image consultants who recently launched Fab4U -- a full-service "style factory" for single men who need help with their looks.

Mary Utrecht, 35, and Joyce Rosenblad, 42, are Downtown's self-described "mistresses of fab" who have set out to make over men otherwise doomed to destitution in the competitive dating scene.

The women recently opened a cozy office above the Times Bar & Caf/ at 201 E. Hennepin Ave. dubbed the "Fab4U Leopard-skin Lounge" -- appropriately named for its plush animal print pillows and chairs.

Utrecht and Rosenblad are on a mission to transform men such as Saari into suave and savvy singles with cunning fashion sense and impeccable dating etiquette. In January, the duo plans to launch "Fab4U University" with four-week courses on style, online dating profiles and dating secrets, among other things.

Saari, who formerly sported an unflattering slick hairdo and baggy pants, is a Fab4U guinea pig.

So far, he's received wardrobe tips and advice on styling his hair. Next, Utrecht and Rosenblad plan to coach him on cooking, home d/cor and creating a winning online profile.

The image consultants offered their services to Saari pro bono as they test out their business concept; Rosenblad estimates that they've provided about $300 worth of advice.

When asked about his experience with Fab4U, Saari compared it to trout fishing. He's optimistic that Utrecht and Rosenblad will help him find the right bait.

"You can go to the river and throw your line in, but if you use the wrong fly during the wrong season, you'll get no bites. If you use the right one, you'll catch one all the time," he said.

According to the Fab4U style mavericks, Saari needed an updated hairstyle (his grandfather has been his lifelong barber) and new form-fitting pants. The women accompanied him to the store to try on new pants and Rosenblad insisted he trying on a smaller pair.

"It seems to work. I tend to be more uptight. They've shown me things that fit more with what's in style," Saari said.

Rosenblad is optimistic about his progress. He's about to update his online dating profile to reflect his new-and-improved look.

"I can definitely see a difference in him -- especially his confidence. He's sexier overall," she said. "Before, he dressed very conservatively, in drab colors. We tried to bring more color into his wardrobe."

The women accompany Fab4U customers to the hair salon, shopping mall and on a mock date at the end of their consultations to provide last-minute pointers on etiquette. The clients are also referred to personal shoppers and skin-care experts. Each customer is provided with an individual package of services depending on their needs.

"We just want them to feel really attractive -- to look and feel their best," Rosenblad said. "People look at you differently when you start to feel good about yourself."

From soap operas to dating sagas

The mistresses of Fab4U met four years ago at Nye's Polonaise Room, 112 E. Hennepin Ave., after Rosenblad moved to Minneapolis from Los Angeles. She worked in Hollywood as a writer for NBC's daytime drama "Days of Our Lives." She also assisted with the show's casting.

Utrecht, a writer for the publishing giant McGraw Hill, offered to help Rosenblad find a new job. (Rosenblad now works as a skin-care consultant.) The women have been close friends ever since.

The single, never-married business partners have distinct dating styles: Utrecht is a minimalist drawn to "cerebral, serious guys" and Rosenblad is more outgoing and drawn to funny, boisterous men.

Utrecht and Rosenblad insist they aren't starting the business to find dates. (Asked why dating experts are still single, Rosenblad said, "We're both very selective. It's not so much that there haven't been opportunities. We're very independent and into our careers.") Rather, they believe they have come up with a novel concept that will fill a niche in the local single scene.

So what compels Rosenblad and Utrecht to dish out advice to struggling singles?

For one, the avid daters have encountered shockingly bad taste over the years -- men with disgusting apartments, nose-hair problems, yellow teeth and bad clothes. Other pet peeves include men who put the moves on them too fast and others who go too slowly.

The women, experienced in the e-dating scene, have also grown tired of weeding through dating profiles filled with misspellings and unattractive photos.

The Fab4U concept literally came to Utrecht in a dream one night. Frustrated by the lack of solid prospects online, she decided to take charge and help struggling singles rewrite their bios.

Determined to make her dream a reality, Utrecht approached Rosenblad about starting a business, and Fab4U was soon born. Their new business -- which they compare to Bravo's "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" -- creates a beauty network for their clients.

The women claim their clients will become hip to the secrets of metrosexuals -- the most successful daters in their opinion -- without the embarrassment of nationwide TV exposure.

The Fab4University courses start in January. The classes are $50 individually and $175 as a package for four classes. Titles include The Workout (How to Become a Hottie), Spring Training (Looking Your Best Online), Getting to First Base (How to Impress a Woman) and Hitting a Home run (Secrets of Sisterhood).

The classes will be held in the Leopard Lounge 7:30-9 p.m., the first Monday and Wednesday of the month. For more information, go to the Fab4U Web site, www.fab4u.org.