Get to Know Me and How The Etiquette Factory Began

Hello, and welcome, my name is Monica Irvine and I am the president of The Etiquette Factory. My goal is to help you be the best parents that you can be and to encourage you and lift you up. I hope to learn from you. I hope that you leave lots of comments and lots of suggestions, and I look forward to the wisdom and insight that you can give me as well.

I want to tell you a little bit about myself, for those of you who don't know me, I'm getting older. I'm 50 years old, and you would think with good etiquette, we don't tell our age to one another, but you might as well know. I am a mom and a wife and a grandmother and life is good. I'm married to a man named, Charles Irvine, and we are coming up on our 27th anniversary this August. Of course, 27 years, that's a big deal. It's a big deal that we've been walking hand in hand through this marriage journey. We don't have a perfect marriage, but it is a perfect marriage for me. Charles is my biggest fan. I often thank the Lord for giving me this man who supports me, loves me, encourages me, and cheers for me, and really is my greatest supporter. That is just such a blessing and I always am and will forever be so grateful for that. I also love that after 26 years, we're still in love. Well, at least I'm still in love with him, let's hope that he's still in love with me. I’m just looking forward to 25 more years. We have fun together. One thing about Charles and I is we enjoy just being together, we laugh a lot, and we just like the same kinds of things. We have a lot in common and he's someone that I love to spend time with and that's a great blessing.

I'm also a mom, we've got three boys in our family. When I married Charles, he had these two adorable little boys named, Chad and Tanner. So they've been in my life for a long time and we also have a son between us named Sawyer. Our boys are 33, 30, and 23. So, they're all out of the house and living their own lives and doing lots of really wonderful things and we're so proud of each of them. They bring us a lot of joy. 

Also, I am blessed with two beautiful granddaughters! I finally have someone to play tea party with and someone to share my dolls, barbies and girl stuff with. Things that I kept my whole life. So I'm just really enjoying being a grandmother and having a little girls to play with, and to be "girly" with.

Now I want to tell you a little bit about The Etiquette Factory. The Etiquette Factory is kind of my baby. It's my other child. It's a big part of my life. It's my passion and it's what has allowed me to mentor and come into contact with the thousands of parents that I have met over the past years. I want to tell you a little bit about how I started with the etiquette factory so that you get to know my thought process and what I'm passionate about. 

My youngest, Sawyer went through the fourth grade in public school and then I took him out, and started homeschooling him in fifth grade. Now, I want you to know that I never intended to home school. In fact, even when Sawyer started kindergarten, I remember this thought of homeschooling kept coming to my mind. Every time it would come up, I would just as quickly as possible get it out of my mind because I did not want to do that. I thought that was crazy, and only crazy people did that. I wanted no part of that. Plus, it wasn't just that I thought that I was not capable of homeschooling my child, but I thought I would ruin his life if I tried to home school him, and that's a whole other story. The point of this story is I was homeschooling him, and that's how The Etiquette Factory started.

When Sawyer was in fifth grade, we started studying about George Washington. In the process of learning about our first president, we came across George Washington's rules of civility and decent behavior. If you have never read those little rules, I highly encourage you to Google them and read them. Basically, when George Washington was around 13 years old, he was being mentored by a minister at the time, and that minister encouraged him to brush up on his chivalry skills. There's 110 chivalry rules that, the history books say, George Washington recorded out of a French book on etiquette. As far as I can see in the research I've done, it looks like we don't know exactly who the original author is of those 110 chivalry skills was, but what we do know is that we found that list in President Washington's handwriting. So we do know that at some point, he did actually write out all of those 110 chivalry skills. They are beautiful. They're written in old English, so yes, you have to get the dictionary out for a few of them, and there's some funny ones. 

For example, one of my favorites, and I'm summarizing here, is, "It's not polite to remove lice from your companion in public,." Which I thought was very good advice. Most of the skills are timeless. And as I was reading these skills, something just really moved inside me. I thought they were so beautiful and I thought, wow, what would it mean for our society to live these skills still today?

As I read those skills, I saw that we don't live many of them anymore. I guess, we've gotten a little lazy when it comes to chivalry. Maybe we just don't think they're as important anymore and so we have let our guard down and maybe we’ve become more casual with the way that we interact with one another. 

Of course, what I was most interested in was teaching Sawyer to have impeccable manners. I already knew that people who have impeccable manners have more opportunities before them. Today, whenever you do meet someone with really good manners, whether it's a young person or even an adult, you're kind of taken aback. It's like, "Whoa, what planet did you just come from?" You're intrigued with it and impressed with it. So I really wanted to give Sawyer those things and I saw that he was missing some skills.

You know how sometimes you'll watch your kids do something, and you'll ask yourself, “Okay, have I really not taught them to do that? I cannot believe they just thought that was okay to do.” I was having some of those moments, maybe more often than I wanted. I just saw that we had some lapses and we needed to brush up on these skills. So, as a home school mom, I wanted to find a curriculum that taught my son manners. Manners for the 21st century, I guess is what I was looking for. As I started looking for something that taught manners in a very organized approach, I could not find anything. However, I did find in my investigation that I could go through etiquette training and become a certified etiquette instructor.

There were a couple of different schools around the nation and they're more industry driven. So, I thought, well, if I learned myself then surely that would help me teach Sawyer some more etiquette skills. So that's exactly what I did. But the more I learned, the more excited I became about teaching this to not only my children but to other children. And so that's exactly what I did. The first thing I did after a year and a half of training is, I started running Manners camps for kids. Really, the truth is the first summer when I scheduled all of these manners camps, I didn't know if anyone would pay me $1 to send their kids to manners camp. However, I knew I would pay someone a lot of money to teach my son manners.

So I thought, “maybe there's more than just me.” And what was so interesting is after about two months of marketing, five of my six camps had a waiting list. That's when I knew I was not the only person searching for help. That launched The Etiquette Factory, and the rest is history. It's just been the most rewarding journey. Sometimes I sit back and I look at all of the products that we've developed and I can’t believe it. 

We've got educators in eight countries and 14 States that run The Etiquette Factory in their city or in their country. Some of them are just doing amazing things. I remember the first time I was emailed this little video and an image of these children in Nigeria who were singing The Etiquette Factory songs.

I was so moved, I was brought to tears thinking that this is worldwide, these skills are being taught around the world. These are so universal, even though, yes, there's some cultural differences, but most of these skills are universal. 

I wanted to quickly close by giving you my definition of etiquette because this is so important. The definition that we use at The Etiquette Factory is, etiquette, or manners is helping those around us to feel valued and to feel comfortable. It's an outward expression of how we feel on the inside. That's what I would like to share with the world and what I would like to help you share with your children.

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