In the beginning of 2020, my friend's wedding was postponed due to the pandemic, so my close friend Coco Chan and I thought it would be nice to throw her and her fiance a cute picnic to celebrate their original wedding date in early October 8.
We received a lot of positive feedback from our close friends, on social media, and even people walking by the picnic, so Coco and I were inspired to expand our idea into a business venture.
We are two Asian American women, born and raised in San Francisco. With Picnic 'n Chill, our goal is to create a unique experience for people who've had to cancel their special day during the pandemic. All around the world, millions of date nights, anniversaries, proposals, baby showers, and birthday celebrations have been postponed. We wanted to create a way for these occasions to still be savored and celebrated safely, by turning a basic picnic into something over the top.
After restless nights building tables, all nighters creating mood boards, and countless shopping runs, Picnic 'n Chill was born.
We had a grand opening promotion where anyone that booked with us in the month of October would receive a free arch of choice and Sip 'n Paint, which is our painting activity. I remember with our first customer, we were both so nervous and went to the picnic spot two hours early, to make sure everything was perfect. When the customers arrived, he blindfolded his girlfriend to surprise her for their anniversary. I felt so happy and honored to be a part of their special moment.
After the first few weeks of launch day, we became booked every weekend from Friday through Sunday, hosting two to three picnics per day.
Besides Picnic 'n Chill, I also have my day job at Captiv8 as a marketing associate and work on public relations as part of my family's company, Happy Lemon, which is an international bubble tea franchise.
Starting my own business, working two other jobs, and balancing my 23-year-old life has definitely been a rollercoaster. It's always a challenge, but this drives me to push and I would not have it any other way.
Here's what a typical weekday in my life looks like.
7:45 - 8:45 a.m. : I wake up, squeeze in an at-home cycle session, and make breakfast
After setting 100 alarms and hitting snooze a few too many times, I wake up around 7:45 a.m.
In the mornings, I try not to think about any work related thoughts, as I use this time to get myself ready to conquer the day ahead of me. I like to take my Peloton for a spin in the morning (shout out to Ally Love's classes) and then make myself something for breakfast, usually a dalgona coffee and a salmon cream cheese bagel.
9 a.m.: I log on to work for my 9-to-5
My full time, 9-to-5 job is at an influencer marketing platform company called Captiv8. As a marketing associate, my day-to-day includes creating marketing collateral for my company, staying on top of social media trends, planning company events, and much more.
1 p.m.: I take lunch and catch up on social media
I try to push as many projects and action items out in the morning so I can give myself a lunch break. When I am lucky enough to have that time slot open, I always catch myself running YouTube videos as I am eating. This helps me de-stress and gets my mind off of work-related thoughts so I don't feel too worn out throughout my day.
5 p.m. - 6 p.m.: Time to prepare for our evening picnic bookings
During the weekdays, my cofounder and I only offer dinner time picnics so they can fit into our 9-to-5 schedules. If I have a booking on the weekday, I always make sure everything is packed and ready to go the night before so that I can head straight to the picnic location after work.
On the weekends, we accommodate all day bookings. We start our first picnic usually at 11 a.m. and end around 8 p.m.
Since Picnic 'n Chill was born, we've been blessed to have received so much positive feedback. Most of our clients find us through a few viral TikTok videos, referrals, walk-bys, family, and friends that have booked with us.
Picnic 'n Chill brings in roughly $9,000 to $12,000 every month in revenue
Our base picnics start at $185, and we have options to accommodate parties of all sizes. We have a list of unique add-ons to enhance the picnics like painting activity, donut wall, fondue set, live record player, board games, selfie stand/light with remote, badminton, and more. For those with pets, we also have a Furry-Friends add-on that includes a doggy bed, water bowl, treats, and a toy they get to keep. We want to make sure everyone is enjoying our picnics.
6:30 - 8:30 p.m.: Our clients arrive for the start of their picnic
It's time to meet our clients! We finish up all final touches and send our clients the exact drop pin of their picnic location so that it's easy for them to find.
Once the client shows up, we make sure to go over everything, answer any questions, and of course take pictures for them. We practice social distancing from our clients and wear masks at all times.
My favorite thing about this job is our client's reaction the moment they see their setup. Seeing the joy on our client's faces reminds me why I started this business.
While our clients are enjoying their luxury picnic, we usually go on WiFi and food hunt near the picnic location. We always stay within 10 to 15 minutes from the picnic spot just in case our clients need anything.
We use these two hours efficiently to respond to email inquiries, prepare for any upcoming picnics, post on our Instagram, or run any errands we need. Once we get that out of the way, we treat ourselves to dinner and always make time for a boba run.
8:30 - 9 p.m.: We head back to the picnic spot to clean up
Once the picnic is complete, we greet the clients again before they leave for a big thank you and any feedback.
It's already pretty dark around this time. Once the clients leave, it's time to pull out our handy headband night lights.
9:30 - 11:30 p.m.: I unpack and prep for the next Picnic 'n Chill booking
Once I get back home, it's time to clean and pack for the next picnic. I throw everything in the laundry, wash all the dishes, sanitize all equipment once again, and make sure I have all the items I need for the picnic the next day. Prepping charcuterie boards at 10 p.m. can be a task at times too!
While waiting for items to be washed, this is when I can catch up on some Happy Lemon work like drafting marketing materials and creating new menu designs and posters. On days that I don't have picnics, you can find me helping out my family at one of our stores.
11:30 - 12:30 a.m.: I wind down my day and reboot for tomorrow
It's time to finally end off my day with a nice hot shower, a good Tik-Tok scroll binge, and falling asleep listening to my favorite podcasts.
For others trying to start a company, my advice is simply to go for it. It's better to try and fail than regret not trying, and even if you do fail at first, you'll learn many lessons that can help you with your next idea. Here are my tips for starting a small business:
- Stay consistent. Don't get side tracked, stay focused on your goal and on what needs to get done every day.
- Don't give up. If you are dealing with hiccups or setbacks, know that this happens to everyone. Use your resources, ask for help, and conquer one problem at a time.
- Have a business plan. Before you start, map out all aspects of your business including product, marketing, operations, and costs. This will help you stay organized as you grow.
- Find a balance. Starting a business can be all-consuming at times, so having a healthy work-life balance is key to avoiding burnout and feeling overwhelmed.