Bibi Al Ghanim and Ma’ab Al Qassem Redefining Etiquette in the Region.
Cultural awareness infused with a desire to elevate the play field of social and professional interactions with an added sense of finesse that can transform any form of setting into a fabulous experience; that’s where The House of Etiquette in Kuwait comes in, offering targeted workshops to further etiquette studies in Kuwait. We had the pleasure of spending a fine afternoon with the two graceful masterminds behind it all!
Bibi Al Ghanim and Ma’ab Al Qassem spill it all out for us; how they got on board this journey; how they both lead busy lives yet also lead the business successfully alongside each other. Ma’ab has a banking background and has worked in the field for the past 11 years. She studied Business Studies & Investments while pursuing her education between Kuwait and London; which brings the needed business acumen to the project. Bibi is currently completing her EdD Doctorate in Education Leadership at a competitive university in the United Kingdom, with a strong will-power and supportive encouragement from her husband and family, she mentions. With over 15 years of experience in the realm of Higher Education and Secondary Education, Bibi has, for numerous years, been supporting her mother. Bibi states that it is vital to note that her mother is her life-coach and mentor. Bibi is managing The Universal American School, Kuwait, as the Assistant Director, offering academic excellence since 1976! In addition, Bibi is the Managing Partner and Director of The House of Etiquette, Kuwait, alongside Ma’ab Al-Qassem, who she describes as her life-time sister and friend. Lastly and importantly, Bibi and Ma’ab are also proud mothers!
How did the idea of The House of Etiquette come upon you?
Ma’ab: Bibi and I are indeed lucky that we were both raised by mothers that appreciate the fine things in life. We grew up surrounded by beautiful china and silverware, living in beautiful homes, flowers etc. This, in itself, I believe was the beginning of it all. Then we both studied in London, and living in a multi-cultural city has been an influence on us as well; we would enjoy fine dining, admiring window setup displays, especially for homeware and, of course, people watching in small streets filled with cafes, curious to see what excites them. We reached a point where we began to feel we have lots of knowledge to share about table settings, etiquette, protocol and overall tablescaping creativity that it was time to share! It was at this point that we decided to get ourselves certified to further develop our knowledge and officially begin to share our know-how and expertise to our interest.
Bibi: I owe it all to my mother … as a child, I witnessed my mother’s passion for everything from tablescaping, food presentation to floral arrangements, and, of course, entertaining guests with lavishly decorated gatherings. As children, both Ma’ab and I, would help our mothers with the floral arrangements, table setting and the food preparations. In addition, my mother provided fun-filled etiquette workshops for children at The Universal American School, Kuwait. Hence, when Ma’ab and I decided in 2008 to establish The House of Etiquette, Kuwait, we knew this was made for us, as we have been living it since we were children…it was in our blood! We spent a lot of time earning certifications in the field of etiquette and protocol, to ensure we master all aspects. Finally, in 2009 we launched The House of Etiquette, Kuwait, and here we are today!
What kind of services do you offer at The House Etiquette?
Ma’ab: We offer social and dining etiquette to children (boys and girls), teenagers, adults and businesses. We also hold workshops covering tablescaping and gathering arrangements. We have always offered bespoke programs to meet the needs of any clients based on their requirements.
Bibi: We offer a variety of courses for children, starting at the age of 4, and adults too! We offer everything ranging from Kids Social Etiquette Workshops and Dining Workshops to Adults Creative TableSetting Workshops, Easy-To-Do Floral Arrangement Workshops, Cheese Platter and Food Presentation Workshops and Social Etiquette Workshops. All workshops are taught personally and conducted by Ma’ab and I.
From what age do you recommend parents begin to enroll their children, and what would be the starting point?
Ma’ab: We enroll girls and boys from the age of 6 years. The starting point would definitely be from a very early age, and importantly at home, by setting an example, and simply pointing things out to children. It can even easily be done very causally and in a very calm way. Little dos and don’ts will go a long way with children.
Bibi: Teach your children from a very young age, give them responsibilities and tasks to feel accountable for, and appreciate the finest details, this is essential! At The House of Etiquette, Kuwait we encourage children starting from the age of 4 to 6 years.
What is your mission statement and what difference do you hope to make?
Ma’ab: We aim to provide as well impart knowledge and reliable tips related to the fields of etiquette and fine entertaining to the maximum number of people that we possibly can reach out to and manage efficiently.
Bibi: When we launched The House of Etiquette, Kuwait, our main goal was, and still is, to teach the masses and share our knowledge with as many people as possible! We believe that if we can share as much knowledge as possible with children and adults, we would truly be making an impact on the overall society. Quality over quantity is what we always strive for.
Does each of you play a specific role when running the business, and what is it?
Ma’ab: I would say Bibi handles the creativity/design/operations while I handle more of the financial and contact with clients prior to events. During training sessions, both of us perform the role of instructors, but Bibi, with her educational background, I would say, is the primary instructor by nature.
Bibi: Ma’ab is the mastermind behind the overall business and clientele aspect, and of The House of Etiquette, Kuwait, whilst I handle the overall creativity side of the business and the overall educational aspects of the curriculum and what is taught.
Owning a business has its ups and downs, how has your partner helped through this?
Ma’ab: I think I have been blessed with the best partner; creative, perfectionist, and self-motivated. I must emphasis that her creativity is a key asset to our business.
Bibi: I am blessed with the best; Ma’ab and I balance out each other on good as well as bad days. We find humor in everything and tend to always look at the brighter side of things, and we continue to motivate each other. At times, things do not work out the way we want it to, but that doesn’t matter, as we always have a plan B to make it happen!
What are your future plans for The House of Etiquette?
Ma’ab: We have many plans including expansion, but due to the fact that Bibi and I take pride in the fact that we conduct the workshops ourselves, expansion becomes a challenge. We, however, plan on growing our client base beyond the GCC, perhaps in the Middle East, and hopefully further globally in the future.
Bibi: Oh if you only knew! We have lots to share and lots to offer in the future… We encourage the readers to follow us on Instagram @thehouseofetiquetteq8 to stay tuned for what’s to come!
And now for the ice breaker…
Favorite coffee: Cappuccino
Favorite beauty product: Kohl eyeliner
Favorite shoe: 10cm pointy high heels
Favorite quote: Not sure if it’s a quote but I like to remind myself of these words
“wish and work for more but always count your blessings”
Favorite coffee: Cappuccino and a strong Americano
Favorite beauty product: Charlotte Tilbury Makeup All-In-One Beauty Palettes Favorite shoe: Slip-on moccasins
Favorite quote: “Never give up! Failure and rejection are only the first step to succeeding” – Jim Valvano