Sara Jane Ho, Founder of Institute Sarita, originally thought her Chinese clientele would for the most part be housewives of rich men, ladies who stay at home, or younger girls.
"In China I didn’t know what would work," says Sara. "I offered two specialty courses, one hostessing for married women, the other debutante for unmarried women. I laid these out, posted them on my website, the media asked me a lot about these two courses, and I would see which would work."
Her clientele consists of hostesses, from 30 to 50 years old, and debutantes from 15 to 30 years old. They all have different needs. A debutante is entering society, so what interests her is learning what it mean to be a good guest. The hostess, on the other hand, is a mature woman, who probably has to assist her husband or company by hosting events or taking care of people.
To Sara's surprise, she doesn't have so many housewives among her client lists. Of course there are some, but most women she works with have careers, whether working in private companies, state-owned enterprises, or couples’ businesses.
"That’s usually the trend as you see as countries develop: the husband and the wife start companies together. Maybe the husband is the CEO and the wife is the COO, or the CFO as we like to joke in China, since she typically holds the purse strings of the company."
Institute Sarita welcomes many women who are very involved in the family business and debutantes or sons who will inherit family business. Some of them are opening offices all over the world. For example, one of their clients, a Shanghai-based woman, is, with her husband, the biggest importer of granite into China. They own granite mines all over the world, including Brazil, Spain, Pakistan, America, India and Turkey. Hence they interact with Turks, Indians, Pakistanis, Spanish, etc., need to be culturally sensitive in each case.
"Especially in business there is so much uncertainty already, with etiquette it’s about knowledge, and with knowledge you have confidence," says Sara.