Southern girls know a thing or two about manners. Right next to down home cooking, good etiquette is a part of our DNA. Erika Preval, a Georgia belle and owner of Charm Etiquette, uses her skills to teach women how to make sure their manners are prestine. Learn more about her business that is essential to all BSBs below!
Pine Bluff, Arkansas
What services do you provide?
Through Charm, I host events in modern etiquette and lifestyle for youth and adults; everything from a proper handshake to navigating a cocktail party as a host or guest is covered. Simply Put, my blog, pares down etiquette topics and makes them relevant for today’s society. You’ll also find my advice as a contributor to Southern Living; it’s a dream come true to be their etiquette expert!
Why did you decide to start a business?
There are a few reasons, including being inspired by the success of friends who were already successful entrepreneurs in various industries. Starting a business is full of challenges, but the biggest one is to just get started. Fortunately, I had their examples and encouragement to make the leap!
Before you owned a business, what did you do?
Before Charm, I spent 13 years as a homemaker and community volunteer.
What is your favorite client story?
That’s difficult to narrow down. I’ll start with my first “feel-good” memory: On a rather challenging day, I checked my inbox to find an email from a former Charm guest. The group was large at her event series, and the guests were teen girls, making it difficult to gauge how much content they’d be able to retain — especially during our dining tutorial. Well, she’d retained enough to host a successful dinner party for her family, and shared photos of the tablescape and food she’d prepared. It was such a pleasant and considerate surprise!
What are your top 3 etiquette rules for a novice?
- When in the company of others, the person your feet are pointing towards should receive your full attention until you’ve excused yourself.
2. Send handwritten thank you notes (which can be accompanied by an email, but not in lieu of) when someone does something special for you – be it doing a favor, interviewing you, or giving you a gift.
3. Step to the side when waiting on the doors of an elevator or train to open, otherwise, you block the pathway of those trying to exit.
What is the most common etiquette mistake people make on a daily basis without knowing it?
Being late. Time is extremely valuable, as it’s something we can’t get back. So, from the doctor’s office to the salon to your lunch date with friends, you show the most consideration for others when you’re early or on time; never late.
What do you love about working with southern clients?
Southern clients tend to have an awareness of etiquette and definitely of manners, and a keen awareness of style. It makes for an easy foundation to build upon.
Who are some of your business idols?
There are plenty, but the first that comes to mind is my friend Myleik Teele. We knew each other long before the launch of her company, CurlBox, and it’s been great watching her grow the business. Wish that I could bottle up her energy!
Do you have any mentors?
I have a few mentors but I draw a lot of my motivation from one who is deceased. In fact, a lot of the decisions made have been directly connected to my time with Audrey Yanthis-Lucas.
What is your favorite thing about being southern?
Hospitality. Doing my best to preserve it in Atlanta!
What is your favorite southern entrees or sides? Why?
That is difficult to narrow down. Soul food. Collard greens with pepper sauce, cornbread dressing with gravy and cranberry sauce, macaroni and cheese, sweet potato pie and Aunt Margie’s pound cake. They all remind me of holidays with the family.
What is the most important thing you have done to build your business?
There are two that overlap a bit: building partnerships and securing press.
What are your favorite southern brands?
Drink: Pappy Van Winkle bourbon and Tito’s vodka
Shop: Neiman Marcus
Food: Ford Fry
What is your favorite item or piece of clothing to wear/use while doing business? You’ll usually find me in a pocketed fit & flare with pearls; love a vintage look!
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