Samantha Hess has made a career by catering to people’s need of feeling loved.
If you’re feeling unloved, overwhelmed, or just in need of some old-fashioned hugs and cuddles, look no further than Samantha Hess.
Hess, 30, is a “professional cuddler” and at $US60 an hour, will snuggle and curl up with strangers on their beds and couches, without the baggage and complications of a relationship.
“My name is Sam, and I am a professional cuddler. If you could use some one-on-one cuddle time without the complications that life normally brings us, then I am your girl. Let’s hold hands and cuddle up on the couch, or listen to some soft music while we curl up in your bed—I am happy to be the big spoon or the little spoon. My purpose is to make you feel comfortable, loved, and appreciated,” her website states.
Hess seems to belong to a new breed of entrepreneurs who believe that touch, no matter who it comes from, is the key to a happy life.
She stumbled upon the idea of professional cuddling after watching a YouTube experiment in which two men offered free or paid hugs to people on the street.
She says her personal circumstances – coming out of a 13-year relationship and feeling the need to be accepted and loved – fuelled her imagination.
“People paid for hugs more than they took the free ones, and I realised that there’s real value in affection,” Hess told Yahoo Shine in an interview. “My friends and boyfriend were a little wary at first, but once they realized I was serious about it, they were supportive.”
Hess’s Oregon based company, called Cuddle Up To Me, offers two basic packages: A 30-minute session for $35 and a 60-minute session for $60 (She charges a $1 per minute in overtime), during which Hess and her client might hold hands, cuddle up on the couch, or spoon to the tune of her “cuddle playlist,” which includes classic music and hits by Phil Collins and Jack Johnson.
There are also prepaid weekly sessions and a flat rate for overnight stays. However, before she does business, Hess conducts a free 45-minute meet-and-greet in a public place such as a coffee shop, to assess the intentions of potential clients.
“I need to know where a person is coming from so I know what I’m walking into,” she explains.
Hess tells Business Insider that about 90 per cent of her clientele are men between the ages of 20 and 75, and she says many suffer from severe traumatic diseases or disabilities that prevent them from having frequent human contact.
But her profession is not bereft of its challenges. Emotional attachment and inappropriate physical behavior are the biggest risks but Hess says she is quick to prevent them.
She vets her clients in-person and makes it clear that physical and romantic involvement is strictly off limits.
If a client pushes his or her boundaries, Hess issues a verbal warning or ends the session. “No one has ever violated the rules because of my strict vetting process,” she insists.
She is equipped with martial arts training and carries a small and sharp pocket stick – just in case.