Ali Washburn and Lauren Levine met online via Twitter and became fast friends. When they noticed that their friends were all using popular dating apps but not discussing it, they saw an opportunity to pull the curtain back and start a conversation. The Margarita Confessionals — their wildly popular podcast — was born, and they have been helping locals navigate the tricky Charlotte dating scene ever since. We’re happy to introduce you to today’s FACES of Charlotte, Ali and Lauren of The Margarita Confessionals.
Let’s start from the beginning — how did you two meet?
A: We actually chatted about pizza on Twitter without knowing each other and then met at a networking event called We Love CLT a few days later. We exchanged numbers and decided we should be friends, and the rest is history!
Tell us how The Margarita Confessionals got started.
A: We spent a lot of time complaining and talking about online dating and how tough and weird it was. We felt like no one else was talking about using Tinder and Bumble, but everyone was doing it, so we decided to start the conversation! We had no idea how to do a podcast. We recorded the first episode in my living room with one microphone.
L: I have a background in radio and had been interested in the concept of podcasting. We would always talk over drinks about how confusing dating was. Online dating, trying to meet people in real life … It was a lot to process. It was still sort of taboo to admit you were using dating apps or struggling with it all, so we casually joked about doing a podcast about it to shed some light on the whole thing. We figured if we hated it, we would do it twice and stop. There were definitely some growing pains, but it’s been amazing. It’s actually weird to think that there was a time before the podcast.
Were you both single at the time and navigating the dating scene?
A: We were both very single when we started the podcast, using Tinder and Bumble and going on lots and lots of dates. We were both in serious long-term relationships prior to moving to Charlotte, so online dating was relatively new to us!
How about now?
A: I have been dating someone for over a year! At first I tried to hide it on the podcast, but being our authentic selves is important to us. I met my boyfriend on Tinder, so I practice what I preach!
L: I’ve been in a relationship for three months.
How do you come up with the topics you cover?
A: We use Slack to communicate with each other about the podcast, so our ideas don’t get lost in our constant text stream. We post ideas, questions, articles and random thoughts on Slack and use that to pull ideas from.
L: It’s really based on what we’re going through and thinking about, what our friends are talking about and based on timely articles we read online.
How long does it take to put an episode together?
L: We’re in touch constantly throughout the week. We’re always adding ideas into Slack as we think of them. When we sit down to record, we spend probably a half hour planning an episode. It takes us maybe 45 minutes to an hour to actually record that week’s show, depending on if we have a guest or what that episode is like, and then it takes me about an hour to an hour and a half to edit the show on Sunday. Then there’s a consistent amount of work spent on social media promotion and the business side of things. We do a weekly meeting we call a State of the Union to make sure we’re not letting anything slip through the cracks.
What do you want people to take away from the podcast?
L: No matter what place you’re in in your life, you’re doing the right thing. It’s easy to feel like you’re falling behind, especially if all of your friends are coupled up. In reality, there’s no set timeline you should be following. Do what feels right for you, and don’t let other people impose their notions of what works onto you. There’s nothing wrong with you just because you’re single right now. At the same time, it’s also okay to want to meet someone, and there’s no shame in using dating apps to try to make that happen! But you should fully embrace who you are (quirks, body hangups, areas of weakness, etc.) as you go. I hate that phrase, “You have to love yourself before anyone else will love you,” but it’s TRUE. No one else on the planet can come along and fix your whole life. You have to be totally at peace with who you are as a person.
When was the first moment you knew The Margarita Confessionals was a hit?
A: The first time someone asked me if I did “that margarita podcast” when I was at Harris Teeter wearing a hat and yoga pants!
L: When listeners started e-mailing us with very heartfelt and honest questions or stories. Also when people stop me at random places around town to comment on the show.
Why do you think the podcast has resonated so much with listeners?
A: Lauren and I really are best friends. We make it a priority to spend time together outside of the podcast, we talk all day long, we have keys to each other’s homes, we share clothes and our moms are friends. I think this is why people have connected with us. We try to be true to ourselves and our friendship all the time. We’re not “unattainable” or super-filtered Instagram celebrities. We’re real, and we share pretty much every part of our lives on the internet. It isn’t always easy, but so far has been worth it!
We’ve heard a lot of people say that Charlotte’s dating scene is a little tricky to navigate — thoughts? Why do you think that might be?
A: I don’t think this is a Charlotte phenomenon. We have become extremely picky about the people we let in our lives, which to some extent is a very positive thing, but we’ve also created 10 million “deal breakers” that sometimes we just need to put aside and give someone a chance. I never would have met my boyfriend if I didn’t take a risk on someone I didn’t think was the “perfect fit.”
L: I don’t think it’s just a Charlotte problem, because I’ve heard it from friends who are dating in New York and Boston and all around, but I think it’s because we’ve got more options than ever before. I’m a huge fan of online dating. I think it’s a great way to meet someone. But I also know that it makes the process feel absolutely overwhelming at times. Beyond that, it can lessen the desire to work through the growing pains of a new relationship. You don’t like a comment your new boo made? Get rid of him and get back on Bumble. You always feel like this perfect Ryan Gosling, rom-com guy who will NEVER say or do the wrong thing is one swipe away.
Alright, we’ve gotta ask — what’s the worst dating story you’ve heard, and what advice did you give them?
A: People ask us all the time if they’re being ghosted (when someone you’ve been dating abruptly ends all communications without explanation), and if you have to ask, the answer is usually yes. It’s not easy to tell someone that, but if a guy or girl is going to ghost, you don’t need that kind of person in your life!
L: We hear SO many bad ones, and most of them involve ghosting. We’ve all been through it, and we’ve probably all done it too, unfortunately. I used to try to make excuses for guys. Now I realize that if someone likes you, they will make it very clear. No need to chase anyone around or accept poor communication. You don’t need that in your life!
Favorite podcast you’ve done so far?
A: I loved our interview with Charlotte’s favorite couple, Jake & Page Fehling. They have a crazy life, and they really inspired me to embrace the crazy and have more fun. I think about their interview almost every day! We also did an episode called “The Death of the Cool Girl,” and it’s one of our favorite shows ever. I really believe in being authentic all the time, especially in relationships.
L: I loved our episode with Blair Primis. He was so real and raw with his story. I also loved the one where we interviewed my mom. People still comment on that. I also like “What a Therapist Wants You To Know About Fights, Dating Complaints and Seeing a Professional.” I hope it helped to lessen the stigma surrounding therapy.
What’s the most common question you get asked?
A: Question: Do you actually drink margaritas when you record the show? Answer: With guests, yes. When it’s just us, we drink coffee!
L: How do I tell if he’s ghosting? Where do I meet good single guys/girls? What should I put on my dating profile?
Do you still have day jobs?
A: I am a registered yoga teacher and own pop-up yoga studio NC Yoga Bar!
L: Yes! I’m a freelance writer.
Favorite thing about Charlotte?
A: It’s not possible to be bored in Charlotte. There is always something to do, somewhere to go and people to meet.
L: People are so friendly and upbeat. No one is from here, so it’s easy to meet people. The weather is 300% better than where I’m from.
Favorite local place to go on a date?
A: Craft Growler Shop, and you better buy me a charcuterie board.
L: On my first date with my boyfriend, we went to NoDa. I hadn’t spent much time there, but it was a great pick. We went to Heist, then to dinner at Crepe Cellar, then got a drink. Each place had such a different vibe, and it was different than where I normally spent my time. I like that you can go to one spot in NoDa, and if it’s going well you can continue on and make a night of it.
What are three things you can’t live without, excluding faith, family and friends?
A: My iPhone, Chopt Salad and Coffee. Basic much?
L: My phone/my computer (I’m making that count as one), coffee and hummus.
To read about more inspiring women in Charlotte, check out our FACES archives.
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