Mindy Lockard, aka The Gracious Girl, can’t remember a time when she wasn’t interested in etiquette. The former finishing school graduate began spreading the gracious gospel professionally nine years ago, pontificating on everything from dinner party manners to interview poise. Here, she speaks to us about her college pen pal, e-mail formality and why she’s always touchy-feely with her paper.
How did you end up teaching etiquette?
It was just after I had my first daughter, Elle. A friend — who knew I had gone to finishing school as a child — asked if I would teach her daughter. At first I declined, but then after I thought about the life lessons I wanted to give my own child — confidence and kindness — I knew that spreading the word about manners was exactly where I wanted to focus my attention.
Why do you enjoy correspondence?
Handwritten correspondence is a timeless treasure and a way to connect with others… not to mention I LOVE receiving mail.
What is your favorite step in the process of written correspondence?
Aside from the feel of when my pen first hits the paper, I LOVE putting on a stamp! There is such a feeling of accomplishment and history in the process.
If you could be pen pals with anyone in history, to whom would you write and what would you say?
I’d have to say Julia Child. I adore her sense of humor and relationship with what she loved: food.
To whom do you most often write?
My closest friends. I have some of the most amazing women in my life and so much to be thankful (in writing) for.
Can you describe the most memorable letter or postcard you have ever received?
My grandmother wrote to me weekly in college. I always loved going to the mailbox in my dorm to find her handwritten words on a handmade card. I treasure those notes now that she is no longer with us.
What makes a particular letter stand out from a stack of cards?
Quality paper. I’m like princess and the pea when it comes to nice paper… I can feel it.
What makes your correspondence distinct?
I try to write conversationally. I think less about what I should say and more about what I really want to say.
Which etiquette rule will you never break?
Leave an element of formality to email. Although it’s quick and easy, I like to always open correspondence with a greeting and a closing. I just think it’s respectful.
What do you think classic correspondence will look like in a decade or two?
My hope is that people are excited about writing notes and think of the process as more of a gift to others than something they have to do because it’s an etiquette rule.
Have a question for Mindy? Email our Crane Concierge at firstname.lastname@example.org.