An etiquette expert is taking Netflix by storm with his new hit TV show Mind Your Manners.
Sara Jane Ho, a graduate of Harvard Business School, grew up in Papua New Guinea, Taiwan, Great Britain and the United States and founded her charm school Institute Sarita in 2012.
With courses ranging from Introduction to Expensive Sports to British Afternoon Tea, her classes quickly gained popularity and caught the attention of Netflix executives.
Mind Your Manners was released on the streaming platform late last year and now Sara has shared how she sees etiquette as a form of socialization.
Harvard Business School graduate Sara Jane Ho is taking Netflix by storm after appearing on her own hit TV show Mind Your Manners
She told the New York Times: ”Everywhere I go, I see myself in the field. I observe: “What are the codes of conduct here? How do people behave?”.
Sara, who speaks four languages, was born in Hong Kong before traveling the world because of her father’s job in oil exploration.
She remembered being taken on a business trip by her parents, where they expected her to interact with the adults they met.
In the US, she attended boarding school before graduating from Georgetown University in 2007 at the age of 21.
That same year, her mother, who worked as an entertainment manager in the music industry, died of cancer.
Sara Jane Ho, a graduate of Harvard Business School, grew up in Papua New Guinea, Taiwan, Great Britain and the United States and founded her charm school Institute Sarita in 2012
She was working on Wall Street when the stock market crashed, and she went to Harvard Business School.
Inspired by her mother’s interest in etiquette, she attended the Institut Villa Pierrefeu in Switzerland.
She said Tatler Asia: ‘I remember my friends in Beijing asking me for advice on having a breakfast meeting and other similar questions, so I thought this would be a good way to combine what I love to do with my mother’s legacy, while I respond to a market need in China.’
Her school described itself as “China’s leading graduate school, bringing you first-hand experience to help you become more poised and polished, taking your social and professional success to the next level.”
Inspired by her mother’s interest in etiquette, she attended the Institut Villa Pierrefeu in Switzerland before founding her own school of charm
Aspiring social climbers could choose from two main types of courses: the Debutante, for unmarried women ages 16 and older, or the Hostessing course for married women.
The courses went into incredible detail about every possible scenario a woman might encounter in social situations, from peeling an orange to eating an oyster. The lessons even touched on how to pronounce the names of luxury design houses.
The Debutante course lasted 10 days and promised to teach single women “high-end social etiquette and protocol,” including history, social and business customs of different cultures and countries around the world, greetings and introductions, business card exchange, dress code, table manners, dining and entertaining, conversational do’s and don’ts and gift giving.
Other subjects included floristry and table decoration, public relations, psychology and personal presentation.
Her courses include lessons on British Afternoon Tea, the pronunciation of British brands and explanations of different sports
The Hostessing course, which took place over 14 full days, starting each day at 9:00 am and ending at 6:00 pm, covered the “art of being a hostess”, which included high-quality social etiquette, including understanding the behavior and customs of the high society and dining around the world.
It also taught history, tasting and serving of tea and coffee, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, dress definitions, personal stationery and invitation cards, body language, rules of official and diplomatic protocol, and hotel and restaurant manners.
The Institute stated that: ‘Our courses are designed to give you the opportunity to gain a better understanding of other cultures and better interpersonal communication.
“Each principle discussed is well supported by practice, so that an elegant lady or a confident businessman becomes second nature to you.”
After a production company headquartered in Singapore read about Sara’s work, they pitched her story to Netflix
A two-week course at the Sarita Institute in Beijing cost 100,000 yuan, or about £10,411, and while some may question spending such a large sum, the courses proved extremely popular.
After a production company headquartered in Singapore read about Sara’s work, they pitched her story to Netflix.
She explained, “They seemed to believe in my vision. And they agreed to let me share my method with the rest of the world.”
However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, her school in China was closed – and the series, Mind Your Manners, was filmed in Australia instead.
It follows a similar format to makeover shows like Queer Eye, which follow a person trying to improve some area of their life under the guidance of an expert.
During the show, she offers guidance in peeling a banana with a knife and fork, and takes an archery lesson
And during the show, she offers guidance on how to peel a banana with a knife and fork, and takes an archery lesson.
Her most important advice about the program is: ‘Come along, then you will know what to do everywhere, with everyone, in every situation.’
Meanwhile, she also advises that responses be “contextual,” and that the main importance of etiquette is to “be considerate of others.”
However, her advice can be a bit unusual at times.
On Instagram, she revealed that she would spit slime on the street – albeit only in a discreet place with a drain to deposit the spit in.
The ultra-glamorous pundit often shares snaps of her adventures around the world with her adoring Instagram fans
On an episode of Mind Your Manners, she tells her students, “There are no ugly women in the world, only lazy women.”
As she sipped tea, she advised, “Some people hold their little finger out to balance, but it looks really pretentious.” Definitely pinky in.’
And in another episode, she told a Chinese-American woman who felt disconnected from her roots to break up with her white boyfriend and try to meet a Chinese instead.
She said, “Your boyfriend is white, he won’t understand what I said.”
However, her love life is much more arranged – she met a businessman who was 14 years her senior after filming the series and married him eight months later.
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