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It's good to be gracious

Mindy Lockard shows etiquette is much more than using the right fork


by: REVIEW, TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Mindy Lockard is an etiquette consultant in Lake Oswego. She has written for In Style Magazine and more. Sometimes etiquette gets a bad rap. Kids think of being taught good manners as punishment. Many adults cringe at the idea of learning the right way to make small talk at public events, preferring to sweat and suffer instead.

When Mindy Lockard first informed a friend she intended to become an etiquette consultant, her friend responded, “does anyone care about that?”

But Lockard was gracious. She’s always gracious, and her blog “Gracious Girl: Your Guide to Gracious Living” opens the door to etiquette to everyone — not just hostesses who live in fear of making a faux pas at a dinner party.

In response to her friend’s question, “does anyone care about that?” Lockard’s answer is a great big “Yes!” In fact, she encourages people to do themselves a favor and learn etiquette.

“Etiquette is very important,” Lockard said. “It’s definitely needed and people are hungry for it. Becoming an etiquette consultant has been a really exciting journey, and I have learned so much about being kind to myself and others.”

Lockard moved to Lake Oswego a year ago. She said it’s still difficult to explain her profession to other people.

“People still think being an etiquette consultant is quite strange because of the preconceptions,” Lockard said. “Sometimes I have to hold my breath when I introduce myself. But I’m proud of what I do.”

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Mindy Lockard's daughters, Elle and Maggie, inspired her to write the children's book, 'Ellie and Maggie Make New Friends,' which was released in 2010. It’s understandable that people are leery of etiquette consultants. This uneasiness, may largely be due to Emily Post — the greatest etiquette expert of them all. Post had perfect posture, and her book, “Etiquette,” revolutionized manners in America.

Anyone with any pretensions to any class whatsoever had a copy of “Etiquette” prominently displayed in their living room bookcase. Still, Post was a daunting figure. She was at the pinnacle of high society in New York City, and she was known as “the Maven of Manners.”

Lockard is no maven. Even though she has an excellent relationship with the Emily Post Institute. She is a glamorous wife and mother and has a warm ability to reach out to anyone like a friend they can trust. Lockard makes etiquette fun.

“What I do is not pretentious, it’s heartfelt,” Lockard said. “I love the power that this information has and how it really changes people’s view of themselves. When you can say, ‘I know what to do in this situation,’ then you have confidence within your own skin and you can achieve whatever you want.”

Lockard is a native of Salem. She was sent to finishing school when she was 8-years-old. “Going to finishing school definitely does not make you an expert,” she noted. But it did plant the seeds for a career that grew into a mission.

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - The Oregon Duck gives a big hug of congratulations to MindyLockard, who seems overwhelmed but happy after she gave a seminar on gracious behavior to 47 University of Oregon cheerleaders.  That was assured when she attended the Protocol School of Washington — the Harvard of the etiquette industry. She started small, working for a few restaurants in Eugene and a couple of stationary companies. Then she became a writer for In Style Magazine, which is published by Forbes, Inc.

From there, Lockard’s career in graciousness grew and grew, and people of all ages and social position have benefited from her advice. She is a consultant for several colleges, professors and students. She has held an etiquette camp for little girls, business professionals and has unlocked tons of potential in the process.

She says she is up for any etiquette challenge. Take for example, her work with the University of Oregon football cheerleaders.

“I worked with 47 cheerleaders,” Lockard said. “I helped them understand the difference between sexy and trashy.”

This endeavor was covered in a TV documentary, and Lockard keeps expanding her wings in the media. A book is in her future, but first she wants to put out a line of products related to etiquette. Still, she never plans far ahead.

“An email today could change the course of my career dramatically, and I’m happy about that,” Lockard said. “I’m excited about what is going to happen during the rest of 2012, and I’m excited about what is going to happen in 2013.”

Lockard believes that Lake Oswego is just the right place to spread her gospel of gracious living. She has paired up with three universities as partners and she is an on-the-air etiquette expert for Fox News 12.

“It’s fabulous here,” she said. “I couldn’t be happier. The values of Lake Oswego are a very good fit for what I’m doing. I get lots of inspiration for writing. It’s also a great place to have our kids (both students at Forest Hills Elementary)...

“I want to move beyond where to put the fork. Etiquette is so much more about how we treat each other.”

To find out more about Lockard, visit her website thegraciousgirl.net.




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