Southern California Courtesy: Local residents open etiquette school Quail & Ivy to bring manners to many

Quail & Ivy founders Betsy Witt and April Winograd
(Photo by Elisabeth Frausto)

For April Winograd and Betsy Witt, etiquette is never antiquated. The longtime friends, who have supported each other through parenthood and worked side-by-side philanthropically for more than a decade, are now partnering in business together to bring modern manners to the community.

“It came about organically,” Witt told said of the pair’s new endeavor, Quail & Ivy, an etiquette and events company that aims to teach young children manners and social behavior. Both involved with St. Germaine Children’s Charity and the founders of the local National Charity League chapter, Winograd and Witt found they really enjoyed the pillars of their work that focused on “cultural activities and imparting etiquette,” Witt said.

“We were able to mentor the girls we worked with, and grow their leadership skills through the etiquette aspect, which was really fun,” Winograd added. That work led the women to form Quail & Ivy at the end of 2019, to teach more children necessary skills.

“We wanted to create a program that could be a resource for others — parents and other caregivers — to teach basic manners, with reinforcement in a fun way,” Winograd stated.

“The response has been overwhelmingly positive,” Witt reflected. “It’s a need that’s been out there that people haven’t really realized.”

The team teaches workshops to children and teens, either out of their homes or through event spaces like the San Diego Yacht Club. The sessions focus on occasions like a tea, during which the women plan out what they want to teach them. “But there are questions that arise, and we teach as the kids practice at the same time,” Winograd explained. “They enjoy it, they love it!”

Witt added that the workshops, which run from 45- to 90- minutes long, are “very interactive and hands-on, with lots of games. It’s not like a weeks-long class; there’s food, usually,” and that many of the classes can be private or tailored for small groups. This level of involvement keeps the material fresh for the young students. “The comment that we’ve gotten from parents is it’s nice to take it out of the home and have a neutral voice to tell their kids another way to do it,” Witt shared.

Winograd and Witt also include the workshop youths in the discussion. “We start by talking about what manners mean to them,” Winograd said, of how they teach children the need for manners. “We eventually bring the conversation around to highlight that manners mean kindness and meeting each other with kindness and respect,” she continued. “The kids really get excited about that conversation. Then we can move to the tea party. When they’re participating, we’re not lecturing; they are part of the conversation.”

Witt agreed that their approach innovates an otherwise old-fashioned area of learning. “It’s been fun for us to know that we’re providing a service that people are excited about,” she said.

Teaching children is a skill that naturally flows from both ladies’ backgrounds. Mother to her 17-year old daughter, Witt is a former kindergarten teacher and stated she has “a love of teaching still,” and that Quail & Ivy “fills that need.” Winograd is also a parent; her 17-year-old twins have grown up with Witt’s daughter and the families live around the corner from each other. The two friends have always “sought opportunities together,” Winograd said, noting they both taught Sunday school at La Jolla United Methodist Church. Opening this business together was a natural transition, they affirmed.

The Quail & Ivy name — from the California state bird and a word that evokes formality and tradition — was borne of the women’s desire to marry their backgrounds with their goal to bring etiquette into a culture more flip-flops than lace hankies. “April grew up in the South, I grew up in the Midwest, so we have a little Southern charm, a little Midwestern hospitality, and we’re in Southern California, a much more casual environment,” Witt explained. “But good manners are timeless, regardless of culture. You can be casual and add that touch of courtesy and etiquette.”

“You can be in your shorts and flip-flops, but ‘thank you’ and ‘please’ are always appropriate,” Winograd added. She agreed that the pair also modernizes their etiquette lessons for manners that evolve as society does. “We teach them how to address adults, proper phone etiquette, and where to put your purse.”

“There’s been a big social change in terms of modernization for women and independence,” Witt continued. “It’s important to know how to be gracious in accepting when someone opens a door for you or pulls out a chair, to know how to handle yourselves in situations that aren’t that common anymore.”

As always, however, Quail & Ivy workshops will include everyday social skills and table manners, such as “how to make a nice introduction, how to greet people, how to make a place setting at the table,” Witt said. “And what to do when you have those awkward moments, like when the tomato flies off your plate. How do you handle those kind of situations,” she continued.

The lessons impart “common sense and building good habits,” Winograd stated. Additionally, the workshops help children build self-confidence in social situations and teach them how to handle themselves. The partners added that the possibilities for Quail & Ivy are limitless. “We are just getting started,” Witt claimed, and Winograd agreed: “Teaching kids manners is never going to go out of style.”

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