The London Finishing Academy Transforms the Finishing School into a British Etiquette Cultural Experience

The London Finishing Academy has done something exciting in the world of British Etiquette. They created a program that is beyond basic etiquette education by transforming it into a cultural experience. One that takes place in a luxurious environment, with training from experts with British royalty connections.

This is a modern program that has been especially developed by its founders, offering a 360 degree approach, a holistic, full-life training, filled with practical tips taking you beyond the basic social skills and table manners. For the ambitious aspirational individual, what they teach are modern etiquette skills and through motivating personal development seminars creating memories and learning benefits that will last a lifetime. British etiquette is known around the world for its high standards.

Changing the Definition and Experience of the Finishing School

What comes to mind when you think ‘finishing school’? A room full of girls perhaps, learning to walk with good posture, speak confidently, dine with good manners. That is the typical expectation. According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, a finishing school is “a private school for girls that emphasizes cultural studies and prepares students especially for social activities.” The London Finishing Academy (TLFA) has pivoted this definition further to encompass something more inclusive (includes men). With their approach, the emphasis here is on ‘finishing’ not only that it is education after ones basic education is finished… but moreover, it is “education with instruction on how to live in society” and that today transcends the women only approach of years past and also takes into consideration the cultural aspects of our globally connected world and demands of modern life.

We believe our audience is grown up and has the ambition to invest in the finer aspects of life. ~ The Hon. Isobel Kershaw

Founders Bonded Over Shared Values and Vision

The Hon. Isobel Kershaw and Rula Komodromos, founders of The London Finishing Academy worked together on prominent charity events for years, where they each used their unique skill set and reputation to produce unforgettable events and occasions. They are both well-known and well-respected in their fields, and together they came together to combine excellent life skills, knowledge, and experience to produce inspiring courses with life-long memories. They felt compelled to create something extraordinary in the world of British etiquette. The London Finishing Academy was established to provide a unique educational etiquette experience. The courses are intended to inspire and free those who want to live a confident social or business life. Music to the ears of a those seeking answers to living their best lives and expanding their skills, whether it is the consummate professional seeking self improvement, or for the newly relocated to the UK seeking to learn how to better understand the British culture.

In Conversation

EAT LOVE SAVOR® had the opportunity to speak with the founders of The London Finishing Academy to learn more about who they are, what they saw was missing in the etiquette space, what inspired the creation of these courses and more about their expertise and unique skills they bring to help develop and improve the lives of those who attend their courses.

INTERVIEW

HON. ISOBEL KERSHAW

Founder and Director of Training

About Isobel

The Hon. Isobel Kershaw

The Hon. Isobel Kershaw is the daughter of Edward John, The Lord Kershaw of Prestwich, who is also the Academy Patron. Isobel has a natural sense of style and elegance that she has developed over the course of her long career in the luxury fashion sector. She began her career as an Acting Director at Harrods before going to Frank Usher as Head of Retail and subsequently Product Director. Her love of fashion led her to start her own style business, as well as collaborating with NHJ Style to produce, promote, and direct The Style Academy, as well as handle clients and styling. She then founded The Stylist London, a firm dedicated to comprehensive image excellence, and has been offering personal style workshops for men and women in the UK and throughout the world. Her clients have included Harrods, Heathrow personal shopper team, Michael Kors, Baker McKenzie, Proctor and Gamble, and Harvey Nicholls Personal shopping suite.

As a woman of hereditary position in the British aristocracy, how were you trained for life as the daughter of a Baron?

Being born with a title is different to being married into one, and so whilst we knew no different as such, as we grew up we realised how different our parents ethos and discipline was to many of our friends. My mother was very strict and I remember each supper , we would be reminded of various etiquette rules such as elbows off the table and food to mouth not mouth to food, and sit up straight! We would often go out to dinner at nice restaurants so that we could practise our manners. When I was 8 my mother decided we should emigrate to Australia, but 6 months later and due to the less civilised culture, my mother then told us all we were going back to England.

My Father has taught us how to feel confident in any social environment, and because of some of the unusual beliefs people have had about people with titles, we were taught to be very grounded and not talk about having a title for fear of alienating people. As I have grown older, I have decided I want to use my title as it is my name, it also is an honour to have one.

My great grandfather was given the title by Lord Atlee for the amazing work he achieved. He was also Lord in waiting to George VI, which is an amazing part of our family history and heritage which I love sharing with anyone who is interested. It is unusual for hereditary titles to be passed on at such an early age, however, my father gained the title at the age of 26 after the untimely death of his father, hence his 3 children, having titles from birth.

What is your definition of a finishing school?

A modern finishing school is where everyone can go to develop their EQ and social skills to enable them to have the confidence to achieve their potential in life. Your CV may get you through the door , but you presentation and personality gets you the job. We are not always taught at school about understanding how to work effectively in a team, or how to feel confident when networking.

We are not given any clues on how powerful non verbal communication and personal presentation is. We aren’t even given key essential skills on how to manage our money from the point of becoming independent. There are people out in the world at all ages who would benefit from reviewing their life with a personal development programme such as a finishing school. The name itself gives a connotation of elite schools for flower arranging and laying tables where young girls are sent. However today, it should mean a school of personal development whatever your age or gender. Everyone deserves the chance to have the opportunity to invest in their life skills with such a school.

What inspired you to start your own finishing and etiquette school? Why is now the best time to build etiquette skills?

For the past 6 years, I have worked with various etiquette trainers, mainly on the subject of non verbal communication, image excellence and poise posture and demeanour. My background as a Stylist and having worked in the fashion industry has led me to this stage. My passion is very much training and coaching people to achieve their best. Many etiquette trainers offer rather wooden courses. I wanted to bring a more modern and real life aspect to the training, so that it is more natural and authentic to life today.

It therefore felt timely to build a different style of etiquette experience, where you can practise your skills and live and breathe the experience at the same time. As we get back to some normality, people seem to have lost their confidence in all areas of life – how to network, how to feel confident when socialising, how to dress even!

Life is not a dress rehearsal! If I can teach women to wear heels and train everyone to hold their knife and fork properly , I will be pleased!! Seriously though, My passion is to coach people to lifestyle success through the art of successful dressing and social and business skills to enable them to achieve their potential in life.

We also decided to call the company and Academy, as many people may be put off by the word school.

Typically this type of education is for the young, but your clients are professional women and men, why was it important to you to address adults?

We do not want our guests to feel like they are being tested or indeed that they are in a school environment. We offer cultural experiences in a luxury environment, where grown ups can indulge in their personal development.  We want to attract men and women who are seeking a unique experience, they may want to revisit business etiquette and confidence in working in a team again. They may be party planners or Etiquette trainers themselves looking for a luxury retreat to reenergise their businesses. We hope to attract the bride who again is looking for an experience to share with her friends where they will have wonderful memories for life. We believe our audience is grown up and has the ambition to invest in the finer aspects of life.

A bedroom at Somerley House, location for The London Finishing Academy 3-Day Residential Course June 21 – 23, 2022

There is a misunderstanding that etiquette is something of a dated idea. What are your views on etiquette in the modern world?

The literal translation of etiquette is Label, and as we know the word came form France and started the revolution to adhere to manners and social respectful rules. When we talk about etiquette, we are referring to respectful society rules, where if followed, ensure we are projecting a more refined quality of manners. When we think of being well behaved and adhering to manners, some feel they are outdated and restricting to daily life. It is a choice to be well mannered but good manners do not go out of fashion, they are integral to being civilised and respectfully integrating smoothly into grown up society.

What can someone of aristocratic background and those of royal connection teach people today about etiquette that you can’t get with other programs? Why is this level of skill important in instructing professionals today? Britain has a global reputation for etiquette and training and for those expats arriving from other countries to the UK, how can these courses benefit them?

Our goal has always been to create an educational experience that you cannot learn from a book. Many other courses are basic and not in keeping with modern life today. We are different – none of our course are online as this area of teaching needs to be immersive. You will feel like you live and breathe and practice what you are learning , within a luxury environment, not found elsewhere. Bringing experts in, also ensures the quality and depth of knowledge you will gain. Each expert not only inspires our guests with their knowledge , but also with their stories that no one else can replicate.

Tell us about the programs you offer. You offer 1- 3 and 5 day immersive programs in luxury settings. Tell us about your upcoming June 3-day residential program.

Our 3 day residential course is an absolute treat, and the timing of it couldn’t be better, with the platinum jubilee celebrations this year. From the moment you arrive at the stunning Somerley House , you will understand how special your luxury break will be. With inspirational workshops and presentations by various guest speakers such as Lord Kershaw, Paula Pryke OBE and myself,  The Honourable Isobel Kershaw, to name but a few. Your educational stay is fully inclusive. You will leave feeling inspired beyond your expectations on areas of life skills and culture, that you hadn’t thought of before.

INTERVIEW

RULA KOMODROMAS

Founder and Director of Production

About Rula

Rula Komodromos

Rula has gathered decades of expertise while perfecting her trade. She grew up in a family with a background that ranges from fashion design to hospitality and event planning. She is an expert at creating unforgettable experiences that are always delivered with the utmost attention to detail – some may even say it is in her DNA. Rula has managed several complex projects for London’s most prominent 5 Star venues, as well as stately residences and intimate events at home. She attempts to exceed expectations by adhering to high quality standards and understanding luxury craftsmanship. Rula has a long list of prominent clients and an international guest list that ranging from social media influencers to royalty.

Tell us about your expertise… What led you to into the field of event planning and what uniqueness do you bring to what you do?

Event planning and parties are in my blood. I grew up with a mother who was in the fashion industry and a father who was a restaurateur. The combination of these characters are essential components to truly understanding every aspect of injecting that ‘wow’ factor into any event. The impact of staging a party and the effect it had on guests who walked into the event space and saw what you had created for the first time fascinated and excited me in equal measures.

Details! I am very much about details and the story that those details tell. Those little things, they are not little, they are everything. Keeping a thread throughout any event, however big or small, is imperative to me. It could be the font on all the stationery and keeping it uniformed throughout every element,  from the invitation which sets the scene, to the menus, place cards or seating plan. It could be the theme and tailoring every detail of the party to that theme, including what all front of house staff are wearing. Ensuring the colours are co-ordinated – the list is endless but most importantly of all, it is about making it personal to the host and injecting their style and personality into their celebration.

Appealing to all five senses is something I inject into every party I plan. The events I plan are invariably immersive and all encompassing. Every aspect is as important as the next whether that be the food, the table styling, the temperature in the room, the music, the lighting and very importantly, the flowers and scent. It is about enveloping your guests in a magical story, like watching a  theatre production of which every act tells a story.

But the star on the top of the tree is experience. Our industry is saturated with graduates who have the qualification to plan events but lack experience, through no fault of their own, but experience is everything as more often than not, the theory does not match the reality.

What are your philosophies when it comes to high end event planning?

To listen to the client and what they wish to achieve. Every person is unique and therefore every party or celebration should be as equally unique. As a planner you are there to guide and advice and facilitate their wishes. Although there are certain general elements within each event that are part and parcel of any celebration, events should not have a blueprint. It is not about staging the same elements in a different colour every time.

I always try and think about how I would feel if I were the guest at that event and remember that although it is the host’s event, how you make your guests feel is an essential part of the atmosphere you create, and therefore ultimately, the success of it. Aspects that have common global generality and are essential is to keeping your guests happy are keeping them fed and watered. There is nothing worse than huge gaps between, for example the ceremony and the wedding breakfast. People will get tired and grumpy and that will then impact on the atmosphere, so timings and ensuring there is enough good food and drink are key.

Having a Plan B and sometimes even a Plan C is de-rigeaur for me and works as an insurance if things go wrong. Mostly it is weather related if you are hosting outside as the weather is something that one cannot control. Although having said that, if you have a cool £250,000 there is something called Cloud Seeding which can ‘stop the rain’. It is conducted by ground generators but mostly by airplanes and it aims to change the amount of precipitation that falls from the clouds. I have it on good authority that some celebrities and Royal families have used this form of ‘insurance’ to ensure it does not rain on their wedding day.

Somerley House

My little gold book is full of tried and tested suppliers who I know have the same work ethic as me and that are as passionate about their work and their industry as I am and who will go that extra mile to ensure the effortless execution of their part of my collated team on the day.

The luxury of abundance is key to any event for me. If you are styling a table at which your guests are seated, making that table abundant with flowers and beautiful glassware, crockery and candles becomes a visual pleasure for your guests and makes for a happy party.

An finally I very much work on the philosophy that it is about team work and by that I mean that the team of people I work with on the day of an event  are just as important as I am as the planner. We are a united team the objective of which is to execute an effortless and beautiful event within a happy and calm environment.

What inspired the unconventional combination of event planning and etiquette / finishing school program?

I have always been interested in ‘the correct form’ of conduct and behaviour and have tried to inject that wherever possible in my event planning. I am a traditionalist with one foot in the continuum of the elegance of the past, but also with one foot in the future. I believe that manners, elegance and politeness are timeless and will never go out of fashion. Now more than ever in the technological and self serving world we live in, these aspects of behaviour are more important than ever.

I worked with Isobel on Charity events in the past and we decided to combine our mutual love for etiquette, our expertise and our combined experience of more than 70 years to what you see today with The London Finishing Academy.

How does event planning transform the experience of learning in this context?

People have much higher expectations today and rightly so and the combination of etiquette expertise and creating a visually beautiful and immersive space to be taught in, or an abundantly laid table to write your notes on is an environment that is evocative and powerful. It excites and stimulates the senses and inspires anyone lucky enough to experience that environment into putting their new found confidence and education into practice.

What is your vision with creating an event around an immersive learning experience? What kind of atmosphere can attendees expect

Attendees can expect an experience that stimulates all the senses from the moment a red coated footman greets you at The Goring or our resident Butler greets you at Somerley Estate. From the glorious scent that envelopes you from our scented candles to the exquisite food and the awe inspiring artwork that adorns the walls on Somerley House, one of the greatest private art collections, to the beautifully styled tables and environments you will sit at for your learning experience. All this combined and underpinned with traditional but modern fun and fresh modules pertinent to today’s modern world, taught by experts in their field, are something you will not find anywhere else in the world. It is unique to the quintessentially British London Finishing Academy.

How does the environment effect and benefit the learning experience?

I believe that a beautiful not only inspires one to elevate standards but it is also a pleasure and creates a comforting and enveloping feeling.

To coin a phrase from Benjamin Franklin, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”

What kind of lingering feeling and memories do you hope people will come away feeling from the experience of a TLFA luxury learning experience?

Above all I would like to think that people will come away with the feeling that they have experienced something luxurious, beautiful and unique that has elevated their confidence as well as their education. The knowledge of etiquette is empowering and makes you stand out from the crowd. It lasts a lifetime and can be threaded into all aspects of anyone’s life no matter, race, gender or age.


UPCOMING ETIQUETTE COURSES

The London Finishing Academy’s

Etiquette Luxury Experience

June 21st – 23rd 2022

In Celebration of The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee

THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS

OUR 1,2- OR 3-DAY IMMERSIVE COURSE IS HELD AT

ONE OF LONDON’S FINEST 5 * HOTEL – THE GORING, BELGRAVIA

AND

AN ICONIC STATELY HOME IN HAMPSHIRE

SOMERLEY HOUSE

This luxury learning escape extraordinaire being held over three days, takes place at Somerley House Estate in Hampshire for 1 day and The Goring hotel in London for the 2 further days. The concept behind this two-venue course, is to offer people the opportunity to join us on 1, 2 or 3 days, depending on your goals. In addition, we are also offering the course as for both residential and non-residential options.

 

The 1-day Etiquette and Cultural Masterclass Experience

Somerley House, Hampshire

In celebration of THE QUEEN’S PLATINUM JUBILEE what better way to celebrate than with The Academy for a one-day Etiquette Extravaganza. Held at the stunning Somerley House Estate. Owned by the Earl and Countess of Normanton, from the moment you arrive you will feel like you are walking back in time taking in the backdrop famous for Bridgerton and The Crown.

Your day will be filled with a timetable of carefully chosen masterclasses and workshops befitting of such a luxury venue. You will learn from high profile EXPERT SPEAKERS chosen from our panel, world renowned for their expertise and aristocratic connections.

You will not only take time out of your busy schedules to immerse yourself in the practice of social etiquette and cultural knowledge, but you will experience a wonderful lunch menu along with a CHAMPAGNE AFTERNOON TEA. At the end of a very special day, you will also have some free time to take in the entire stately home which is exclusive to The Academy for the day.

£650 pp

11am – 6pm

Travel not included

 

The 2-day Business and social Etiquette course

The Goring Hotel

London

The Academy will follow day 2 and 3 at The Goring hotel, a world-renowned luxury hotel favoured by the Royal Family. Further masterclasses in addition to day 1, are held by a selection of our expert panelists. You will be part of inspirational and educational classes and have the opportunity to network with like-minded people, all investing in enhancing their EQ education and personal skills. Day 2 is focused very much on BUSINESS ETIQUETTE AND THE ART OF NETWORKING. Day 3 will conclude with SOCIAL ETIQUETTE AND LIFESTYLE CONFIDENCE, along with the FINE DINING EXPERIENCE taking in the elegant Michelin starred Goring restaurant.

The 2-day course at The Goring can be taken on its own or part of the 3-day complete experience.

2 Day Course Fee -£1195

10am – 5pm

 

The 3-day Complete Etiquette Experience

By combining all three days in the two locations, each guest will have a well-rounded knowledge across all aspects of social, business and lifestyle etiquette. We believe our guests will leave feeling inspired and recharged and enriched by the experience they have invested in. Our goal is to ensure each guest leaves with lifelong memories and skills to enhance their confidence in all social and business settings.

Fee – £1845

The fee does not include residency at The Goring. This can be booked by The London Finishing Academy (For the Goring bookings only) at £450 per room per night.

 

CONTACT TO BOOK
CONTACT TO BOOK – FREE 15-MIN CONSULTATION

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