Fresh air, gorgeous scenery and the perfect picnic – a winning combination that never fails to elicit a happy smile and relaxed sigh. 

In a time where we have been stuck indoors for so long with so many of our normal outlets no longer available to us, the pleasure of quality time outdoors has been heightened. The Beach Picnic Co. has taken those delicious moments under the sun a step further by crafting bespoke luxury picnic experiences. From intimate dates and surprise engagements, to community picnics and family beach dinners, founder and CEO Madison Smetana does it all. 

Photo by Kameron Pollock (@kampollock on IG)

Madison began the business last year, deep in the throes of the pandemic, with all the grit and determination required of a young entrepreneur, armed with a well-stocked arsenal of artistic vision and passion. Searching for a safe pastime herself, the business-minded 23-year-old saw a ripe opportunity to provide a service for others seeking similar dining and date idea alternatives. And thus, The Beach Picnic Co. was born. 

“The first ‘seed,’ if you will, of The Beach Picnic Co. started when I put together a picnic date for my boyfriend and I in the late summer. I had always loved throwing elaborate picnics for my friends and family beyond just the simple picnic basket and red-and-white-checkered blanket, and naturally always put a lot of thought and emphasis into the details of the picnics,” explains Madison. “My boyfriend (Riley) posted stories and a TikTok of me setting up the picnic (which I had no idea he was filming) and he posted them. All of his friends started messaging him asking if they could hire me to set up a picnic date for them and their girlfriends. That’s when Riley said I could turn my hobby into a legitimate business that people would want to use.”

“The more I thought about it, the more excited I got,” she shares. “Within a week I had made a sketch of our logo in my notebook and sent it to my uncle who is a talented graphic designer. I had chosen a name and the ideas started bursting in my head.”

Photo by Kameron Pollock (@kampollock on IG)

The company launched on October 24, 2020, to gorgeous fanfare. Undoubtedly a talented designer, Madison’s keen eye for aesthetics provide both picnickers and social media followers alike a break from the doldrums of quarantine routine. Her picnic layouts seem to capture the very landscape they are set upon, bursting with dreamy cheerfulness.

“The majority of the themes and color schemes, I have thought up on my own,” details Madison. “I take from my own sense of style and what inspires me in my day-to-day life. I love bright, colorful palettes and things that remind me of spring and summer. Sometimes I’ll wake up in the morning and a new idea will just come to me and I’ll think ‘that would look good on a table’ and then I bring that thought to life. My newest theme California Dreamin’ was actually inspired by the song by the Mamas and Papas. That song reminds me of the golden glow of a late afternoon in the summer, and the theme matches that. It’s lots of oranges and yellows and sunset colors and warm tones. It has a very California-dreaming vibe.”

A dreamer herself, her can-do spirit is what has allowed her to grow her business seed into fruition. Determined to launch in time to allow her friends a pandemic-safe celebration alternative, she pushed forward with her outdoor business in the middle of fall. 

“A part of me thought, ‘I should wait til spring when it’s warmer weather to start my business, it’s too cold right now.’ But another part of me said, ‘you live in California, and think of how much further along you’ll be by spring if you just start it now.’ I’m so glad I listened to that second voice, and I just went for it,” she emphasizes. 

Photo by Kameron Pollock (@kampollock on IG)

Her gut was correct, and her launch was successful. 

“Honestly, I was incredibly excited for the launch,” Madison tells us. “I was confident. I knew I had a great idea, and I felt this sureness inside that people would feel the same. Of course I had a little bit of nervousness – will I get business, will people think this is dumb – but ultimately I felt very good about the whole thing and it overshadowed any feelings of doubt. I felt like people would be as excited as I was about a new way to get outside and do something different.”

“The Beach Picnic Co. has been received more warmly than I ever could’ve anticipated,” she continues. “I think it got 300 followers in the first 48 hours alone. People were praising the idea in the comments, saying how great of an idea it was, all my friends were reposting it, you could really feel people’s excitement. I received multiple messages from strangers saying how badly they needed something like this and couldn’t wait to book – a way to celebrate their birthday, an anniversary with their loved one, in a way that felt safe and outdoors.”

Photo by Kameron Pollock (@kampollock on IG)

She recently invited members of the community to safely experience The Beach Picnic Co. at the Orange County Great Park, a welcome introduction to her services for many of us who have been wistfully waiting for ways to amplify our outdoor experience while following health guidelines. 

“I felt it would be refreshing for the community to be able to come together in a safety-conscious way and enjoy the outdoors in such a beautiful and famous park as the Great Park,” says Madison. “We live in such a beautiful place in Southern California, and as we get nearer to warmer weather I don’t feel we should stay inside our homes all day. We need fresh air, conversation, smiling at strangers. Even if it’s six feet apart. I believe nature is the best place to be. I would love to have more events like this, where we can appreciate the community and company of Irvine and change up the day-to-day routine of our lives with something new and unique and fun to keep people’s spirits lifted.”

As The Beach Picnic Co. grows, what would Madison’s dream event be? 

“My dream event would be one long family-style table along the beach, with a lot of sushi, and other creative individuals whom I’ve looked up to/followed for a long time,” she answers. “I think it’d be really cool to invite people who have inspired me to something of my own creation, and converse and share ideas under the sunset. I also think it’d be really cool to do a location event on a tropical beach somewhere. Maybe one day!”

Photo by Kameron Pollock (@kampollock on IG)

Starting a business is no easy task, no less starting a business in a pandemic. What advice does Madison have for like-minded individuals hoping to pursue their dreams in such an uncertain time?

“It might sound cliché, but believe in yourself. Believe in your business. Believe in your ideas. Because if you don’t, other people won’t either,” she wisens. “You are the most important person to your business, because you are the heart that makes the business beat. We’re in a time where there is every reason to discourage you from starting a business or making you believe you’re doomed to fail. But circumstances don’t change a great idea. Hold onto the idea that makes you excited. There’s never a ‘right time’ to go after something. You just have to trust in yourself and your capabilities. People won’t always understand your vision the way you do, and don’t try to make them. Just make it happen and people will get it along the way. Don’t worry about anyone else, focus and feed the flame of your idea. Despite what’s going on, there is always room for you and what you have to offer the world.” 

From the design to the physical labor, who makes up The Beach Picnic Co. team?

“Right now, it’s just me, myself and I,” laughs Madison. “I do everything – the social media, bookings, picnic set ups, photography, website, it’s all me. Which can be confusing since I refer to my business as a ‘we’. I heard that’s what you’re supposed to do. My mom helps me clean my supplies and wash pillows every now and then and my boyfriend gives me advice with the numbers. I’m hoping to hire very soon, The BPCo. is growing so rapidly I can’t keep up. I would love to have a team.”

“The future for The Beach Picnic Co. hopefully has a few passionate like-minded employees, a headquarters space we can call home, and there are several ideas for a little bit of merchandise in the works,” she continues. “Realistically, I think the possibilities are endless for The Beach Picnic Co. Different locations, new themes, partnerships with other vendors, and constantly seeking new ways to enjoy community whilst staying safe during these times.”

With a lot of love and a little bit of sun, The Beach Picnic Co. is sure to be bringing smiles and memories for years to come. 

For information on pricing, locations, and how to book your picnic, visit www.thebeachpicnic.co

Photo by Kameron Pollock (@kampollock on IG)