Mercia Cailloux is a certified Etiquette Consultant, designer, and founder of M Cailloux Cutlery. She combined her design and etiquette expertise to create stylish, ergonomic cutlery that helps to ensure proper holding positions according to table etiquette. The company also provides classes in social and business etiquette with specific courses for children, teenagers, and adults. While she was born in Brazil, Mercia has traveled the world extensively, living in France and Australia before settling in England, where she has lived for almost 25 years.
What does your company do?
M Cailloux offers etiquette classes and unique, ergonomic cutlery that comfortably and intuitively assist with dining etiquette. Traditional cutlery has seen very little innovation for hundreds of years, and is not designed to fit in your hand correctly. With that in mind, we created unique cutlery that places your hands in the correct holding position. Our company began with cutlery for children, but we’ve now added a range for adults so that the whole family can experience ergonomic dining.
What inspired you to start M Cailloux Cutlery?
When my first child was around four years old, I noticed how much children struggled with holding cutlery correctly, as no cutlery would allow an easy and comfortable grip. Most of us teach our children to eat with ordinary cutlery without questioning the utensil’s fit in our hands. We impose a position on our hands and fingers that we learn by repetition. Even though it’s uncomfortable at first, it becomes the norm and we accept it.
I was frustrated by the lack of ergonomic cutlery available, so I started analyzing the problem with the ambition of solving it. To improve common utensils, I had to consider many factors: the ideal utensil would have marks clearly defining the exact points where hands and fingers should touch; it would have optimal weight distribution to make it comfortable to hold; and it would be made of the highest quality materials.
After numerous prototypes and finally validation from hand and etiquette specialists, the cutlery was ready for production, quality control and testing. When I started, I forged the cutlery by hand in silver, meaning it was limited in availability. Now, M Cailloux Cutlery is made from high-quality stainless steel and is far more accessible, giving everyone the chance to modernize their table and optimize their eating process for themselves and their families.
Who has been a role model for you?
My mother became a widow when she was relatively young, so she had to balance looking after three young children on her own while being the headmistress at a local school. She gained a lot of admiration as she always treated everyone with respect and consideration.
When we were confronted with problems, my mother would always quote the Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes in Don Quixote: “There is a remedy for all things but death”. Being confronted with death so early in life makes one aware of how precious life is and creates an open mind for finding solutions when faced with obstacles. This was certainly the spirit she displayed in navigating many of life’s challenges on her own. For me and many others, my mother was a wonderful role model.
What accomplishments are you most proud of?
It’s deeply rewarding to see the impact of my work on children. I love watching a child become instantly more confident and at ease when they learn etiquette and social skills. In my eyes, my greatest accomplishment is getting to be part of their transformation into more capable and confident individuals.