Picnic idea that morphed into a thriving business

Jacinta Njoki, founder Picnics by Njoki. [File, Standard]

The Covid-19 pandemic caused all sorts of drama across the globe. When it made its way through the Kenyan borders, the severe effects were far-reaching and lethal.

As was in any part of the world, the economic and social disruption were some of the major challenges the pandemic hurtled in Kenya.

But while we continue to count our losses, there are a few who count their gains, like Jacinta Njoki who is a budding entrepreneur in Nairobi.

Ms Njoki is the business owner of Picnics by Njoki. In 2020, when the coronavirus landed on Kenyan shores, she saw an opportunity to bring a little light to the lives of Nairobians who longed to breathe in the fresh air of leafy suburbs amidst lockdown.

This was during the public health regulations when social gatherings came with severe restrictions, and so you can see how a picnic business not only became a convenient, less risky way to link up with loved ones but also a means to relax from the stressful life at the time.

Picnics draw their history from an old French tradition, originally an indoor pastime, and while we are not to discuss that part of history today, centuries later it is a global extravagance, and in 2020, a diversion from the precincts of the pandemic.

Mostly outdoorsy with colourful decor and piece de resistance - food and drinks, artistically arranged on top of a beautiful Maasai blanket, a pallet or a Japanese-height table. To Njoki, picnics presented an enticing business opportunity that she has run successfully to date.

Njoki shares some tips to her trade.

Where to start

Planning is key. And for a picnic business, one of the things that's critically essential is location. This is because, Kenyans want to get out of their concrete jungles and congested streets only to enjoy fresh air, and sunshine and laugh out loud with friends uninterrupted.

"The locations must be serene, secure and accessible. This is what most people prefer," explains Njoki.

The other essential is the capital, and as always will be, there's to business without start-up capital.

The item essentials that go into setting up a business are preferentially extravagant; people want to feel special when they are out so as a business person you must go all out in sourcing for unique luxury items and this requires money.

Last but not least in the essentials list is flexibility as an entrepreneur, which is a requirement in any type of business. This would mean you are ready to run more than one picnic in one day in different locations because this is the mark of growth.

List down the essentials

We've already agreed that capital is essential for any start-up. In a picnic business, you need to strategise by listing down everything you need to complete a gorgeous set-up.

From the type of tables or tapestry you want to use, the plates, wine glasses and cutlery, and the decor pieces like pillows, umbrellas, vases and flowers.

All these are to influence the capital you need to be ready for a start-up. Also, think about the number of people you will accept per set-up because that informs the number of items per person and per picnic, you get to acquire.

Events such as baby showers, birthdays, graduations and even weddings are currently being infused into the picnic culture.

Njoki recently concluded two of her most challenging set-ups.

"I recently set up for Vera Sidika's Swahili culture in the Real Housewives of Nairobi, and last weekend, I also set up for an eight-pax wedding," she explains.


Now picture that, when a celebrity calls or when you get an order for a wedding, would you be ready to take the business? It all boils down to the capital.

"I started with Sh120,000 in the year 2020 and with very simple items including plastic plates and cups. These were items that could only accommodate 20 people," says Jossie.

With time she's progressed to sophistication and has bought quality essentials that can serve up to 100 people at ago.

She says that anything from Sh100,000 to Sh150,000 is all one may need to start a picnic business.

Categorise the various packages

Remember listing down the type of picnic events you can host. Each of course has its exceptional requirement and therefore must be charged as such.

Design your various picnic outlooks to be unique. Then come up with a package plan that breaks even but also doesn't make people look elsewhere for affordable options. In business, you must strive to be irresistible in every way through your products, services and pricing.

"For instance, from university students, you can even create a package of Sh3,000, which caters for up to four people.

Other packages could be up to Sh10,000 or Sh15,000, which could be proposals or birthdays that are a little fancier, notes Njoki.

Digital Marketing

Technology has gradually taken its place in the marketing enigma and today, hardly can a business fully operate without digital innovations in spreading the word out.

Realistically speaking, a business such as a picnic wouldn't have a dazzling future without the ability of an entrepreneur to explore this facet.

Brace for 'cats and dogs'

Imagine you are done setting up and just then the weather gets drizzly. Whoopsie! Or the other way round, what if it gets too hot to handle? The weather is a significant challenge in the business, again, remember the thing about flexibility, how well are you prepared to flex?

How quickly can you recommend an indoor picnic and be able to get a new venue and complete a new set-up in time, or pitch a tent under the hot sun?

Are you really ready for the challenge?

The other challenge is impromptu bookings out of the blue. You are in business and you don't want to lose business, so how swift are you to move mountains for your customers is what you want to ask yourself once in business.

Last but not least, just like at home, accidents happen so be ready for breakages, spillage or even tear. Some of your customers could be clumsy or as they say, accidents happen all the time!