Hannah Tan is on a mission to help young girls negotiate the difficulties of the growing-up years with her company,Miss Teaspoon, writes ZIEMAN.
Etiquette director Hannah Tan is the founder of Miss Teaspoon, a company that conducts etiquette workshops and private guidance sessions for young girls between seven to 17, focusing on their physical, mental, emotional and social development.
Tan says Miss Teaspoon helps to address the issues encountered in growing up and to improve upon the self-esteem of young girls.
Why did you set up this company?
I wanted a platform to speak on sensitive issues for girls like puberty, sex and the emotional issues that they go through and their expectations. I started the company in 2011 and named it Miss Teaspoon, which is the initial of my name which is Tan Shi Pei. Most of the time we are busy focusing on holistic development, so our classes focus on what happens during the transition of a young girl to womanhood and the five important points like physical, intellectual, language, emotional and social.
For now, we are giving classes to 100 students from six different private schools. We have three trainers, including two psychology experts. Among the topics we cover are Gender Identification, Understanding Beauty, Emotional Literacy, Making mistakes, Altruism and Handling Relationships.
What was your biggest challenge?
Finding like-minded people, because not many people are interested in this sort of education – like giving lessons on table manners, leadership for prefects and monitors, hosting and organising parties, and etiquette. The elegance of a girl is extended to the use of her silverware. She may not stand out with finishing school finesse but dines almost naturally while enjoying good company. It is a spectacle of grace which should not mistake spoons as shovels. And playing host with proper etiquette helps ensure that everyone has a good time at a dinner function or a family reunion.
How do you inspire the girls?
When I started Miss Teaspoon fours years ago, my aim was to mentor, inspire and empower every girl to be positive role models. Our three trainers are dedicated to shape every girl to be etiquette-savvy, genuine and kind. We provide a safe platform for girls to share their experiences, mistakes and differences, and transform these into life-time values and principles. We want to pass down the legacy of being happy and spirited, inspiring and influential, positive and determined, polite and graceful young girls.
We commit our time, our experiences and our heart by being transparent and true.
What advice would you give young girls and parents?
Girls go through mental transition when they reach puberty. Parents have to understand and prepare their girls for this phase, and that’s one area Miss Teaspoon tries to help. During this growing up stage, self-identity and self-perception is constantly shifting shape. Surprises, slips and challenges define one’s character, so it’s important to develop this skill in a girl like how to deal with challenges, handle conflicts and improve relationships.
Changes appear in physical form, too, and that’s why we introduce grooming classes. It’s more than shaping eyebrows and keeping unwanted hair in check. It is about maintaining good personal hygiene and presentations. Since peer pressure increases significantly as girls start taking on these social demands at an even younger age, parents are faced with a greater range of social and emotional issues as the young strive to rise up to these ideal standards. Dressing to a code is, of course, our most essential of parts.
How do you destress?
I love to sew, paint and read because I find these hobbies therapeutic. In order for me to spread the good vibes, I have to work it within myself. Sometimes we stop doing what we love because we think that growing up means putting all these things behind. But it’s not. It’s about taking what you love, and letting it grow up together with you.
I would like to do more etiquette mentoring programme for girls and reach out to a bigger group. Miss Teaspoon is responding to a collective effort of forging beautiful girls inside and out, encouraging positive role models to represent the true meaning of beauty and authenticity. We try to mentor, inspire and empower one girl at a time.
This June, we are organising our very own coming-of-age camp called “Little Women,” the first of its kind in Malaysia. The camp celebrates the transition of girlhood to womanhood, helping young girls enter adolescence with strength and self-confidence.
The camp, named after Louisa May Alcott’s book, Little Women, explores the coming of age as something similar to a rites of passage. It prepares girls through understanding bodily changes, exploring taboo topics on puberty and sex, and setting healthy perspectives on maturity.