Local etiquette expert to appear on reality show

By Matt Liebowitz


North County etiquette expert Elaine Swann will take her teachings to a broader audience with an appearance on the new Style Network show “What I Hate About Me.” Swann will appear on the show’s premiere episode, Jan. 2, putting her sought-after skills as a life coach to work.

A unique “lifestyle makeover” show, each episode of the national TV series will feature a woman revealing the top 10 things she dislikes about herself. The woman will then confront and work toward solving these personal issues with the help of experts in the fields of fashion, beauty, cooking, and finance, as well as life coaches, psychologists and stylists.

Though careful not to reveal too many details about the episode, Swann said viewers will see her counseling a woman whose relationship with family and friends became fractured after her wedding day because the woman did not send out thank you cards.

Swann also filmed several shorter segments that will air on the show, including one in which she details the difference between the right (social) and the left (personal) hands.

Swann brings to the Style Network years of etiquette experience.

The founder of Elaine Swann Enterprises, (www., Swann was first introduced to the etiquette world while attending charm school and finishing school growing up in North County. She also competed in beauty pageants, all of which she said had an etiquette component.

After high school, Swann moved to New York, where she continued to compete in pageants, including the Miss Black USA pageant. When she returned four years later to North County, Swann took the tips she had learned on the pageant circuit and applied them to helping girls prepare for a local debutante ball.

Her career snowballed from there, as Swann began running etiquette programs at local middle schools, high schools, and college campuses, including Palomar College and Mira Costa College. In 2002, she closed her hair salon, Bronzed Images, and began focusing her energy full-time on etiquette consulting and speaking engagements.

“That’s when it really turned into a business,” she said.

Swann has since spoken or offered etiquette programs at UCSD, San Diego State University, the San Diego Coastal Chamber of Commerce, Rancho Valencia Resort, and The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe.

She has also written a book, “Girls Have School! A Glam Girls Guide to Taking on the Day with Grace and Style,” based on her years of working with high school girls. She’s currently working on a second book, “Girls Have Style...When Out and About,” which will address etiquette in social situations, and will include sections on social-networking and the Internet.

It’s the area of technology, Swann said, that has recently necessitated a new set of rules for appropriate conduct. How adults use cell phones, text messaging, and e-mail is the “biggest problem” as of late, she explained.

“We’re in such a fast society right now, and technology has connected and disconnected us at the same time,” she said. “We forget to be human. You can not let technology get in the way of a relationship.”

When to watch

  • ‘What I Hate About Me’
  • Airs 9 p.m. Jan. 2

on the Style Network