On February 4, 2021, experience industry management senior Morgan Johancen drove home to retrieve the rest of her materials for her luxury picnic business in preparation for the impending Valentine’s Day weekend. After just launching two weeks prior, she was looking forward to the first big weekend for Pretty Little Picnics.
Johancen is really interested in hospitality and has always wanted to start her own business, so, after discovering the trend of luxury picnics on Tik Tok, she thought she’d give it a go.
“I was like, ‘Dang, this is like a pretty cool idea. I kind of want to do it.’ So, I looked into it a little more, and started buying supplies, and building my website and putting things together and launched my business,” said Johancen.
Right now she currently offers four different packages ranging from $150 to $250 depending on how many people are attending and what’s included. The Classic package is the cheapest and is for two people. It includes the use of picnic settings, floor cushions and pillows, flatware and linens, floral arrangements, phone chargers, a picnic table, a chalk or letter board, led candles or string lights, and hand sanitizer for two hours.
One of Johancen’s first customers from home, Lauren Sugar, a University of California Los Angeles psychology junior, even got extra little touches added to her set-up.
“We had flowers all over the table; she had these velvet hearts scattered all over the place, which was really cute. She even had this little board that said ‘Happy Anniversary Lauren and Kyle. It was just so cute. She really thought of everything,” said Sugar.
The packages go up in price if they are for more people or feature add-ons like painting sets, polaroid camera and film, and themed decorations. According to University of California Santa Barbara political science junior Kate Baughn, who experienced one of these luxury picnics with her boyfriend, these different features are what make the experience so special.
“Morgan also set up a little card game for us. It’s a couples card game, and so we played that and asked each other questions. That was fun and intimate,” said Baughn.
Baughn even got a souvenir to remember this date by.
“We actually did some painting and we still have our paintings up in our apartment right now. That’s a cute little reminder of how much fun we had on the picnic,” said Baughn.
Both Baughn and Sugar used Pretty Little Picnics for dates with their boyfriends, but Sugar says the event doesn’t have to be limited to couples.
“You could literally do it with a big group of friends. You’re able to enjoy each other’s presence, be outside, enjoy the view, stay off your phones and just really enjoy the moment,” said Sugar.
It was one of Johancen’s goals to cultivate an environment where her customers could focus on being with their loved ones.
“I just wanted to create something that people could do during COVID and still go out and have fun … and still connect with their friends during this time of uncertainty,” said Johacen.
Covid has been at the forefront of Johacen’s mind since launching and makes sure to take safety and sanitation precautions. In between uses she makes sure she disinfects all of the picnic’s items, as well as takes into consideration social distancing when setting up and wearing masks when interacting with her customers.
“It felt super safe and sanitary. Morgan had hand sanitizer and she set up our picnic super far away from where any people would be. We wore masks when we greeted each other and … you could tell she cleaned everything,” said Baughn.
After she graduates this year, Johancen hopes to continue her career in the picnic business.
“This is something that I really like to do, that wasn’t something that I had planned before,” said Johancen. “I just wanted to create something that makes other people happy too.”
While getting her start in her hometown, Johancen is currently operating her business in the San Luis Obispo area. A Pretty Little Picnic can be booked through the company’s website.