Spring is the perfect time to get outdoors and safely gather with friends — the days are longer, the weather is the perfect temperature, humidity is low. What could be better than getting together for a beautiful custom picnic and making memories that will last?
Pop up picnics as a business?
Ana Paola Suarez came up with the idea for NOLA PopUp Picnic because she had always wanted a boyfriend to plan a beautiful picnic for her. A second grade teacher at the International School by day, Suarez wanted to start a company where she could help customize the beautiful picnics of people’s dreams.
“It all started as a romantic idea for a date, that expanded into much more,” Suarez said. “I had the idea to include local companies and support local businesses — many women-owned. For example, Empanola provides a lot of the food for my picnics and I chose them because I wanted to support them. It’s as simple as that.”
Suarez was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, and moved to New Orleans when she was seven. She was raised here and brings a little of that New Orleans feel to her picnics.
“I love that New Orleans has its own charm and spirit,” she said.
Suarez has always loved planning parties and events for coworkers and friends. Because the pandemic put a stop to typical parties, she wanted to create a way for people to get together and enjoy special occasions, safely. She thought picnics were the perfect fit. Armed with a degree in finance from the University of New Orleans, and her love for party planning, Suarez started NOLA PopUp Picnic in January.
NOLA PopUp Picnic has been a hit and Suarez has been planning picnics every weekend, in spots like City Park and Crescent Park. Her new business has kept her busy, as she sometimes handles four picnics in a single day.
“It’s a lot of work, but I can make it happen,” she said.
Picnics for any occasion
Although this is a weekend gig, Suarez puts her all into NOLA PopUp Picnic. She’s constantly shopping and helping her customers figure out their perfect touches. She helps customers come up with ideas that will make their picnic an experience that they will never forget.
“I can plan a picnic with 72 hours’ notice,” she said. “I want to make it as nice as possible, so I need time to shop around and get the best prices for my customers. If they want the picnic to be all one color or to have special touches, I can make that happen.”
NOLA PopUp Picnic is perfect for any occasion you can imagine, whether you just need an excuse to enjoy the nice weather, or you want to propose to that special someone.
“I’ve had two engagements so far,” Suarez said. “One was planned and another was a total surprise, even to me!”
Bachelorette parties and bridal showers are also a part of Suarez’s picnic plan. She also has plans to include brunch in her packages.
How can you get one of these amazing picnics of your own?
Start by going to the NOLA PopUp Picnic website and choosing your package. Couples’ packages range from $100 to $250. You can choose from everything from a basic package to one that has always the bells and whistles, including wine, chocolate-covered strawberries and more. Other fun things like board games, charcuterie boards and flowers can be added, depending on the package you choose.
If you’re wondering if kids can get in on the fun, the answer is, “Yes!” There’s a kids’ package that includes snacks, organic juice pouches, age-appropriate games and balloons. That sounds like a perfect way to keep the little ones busy for an afternoon.
Each picnic lasts two and a half hours and Suarez will work with you in the event of inclement weather.
“I ask that my customers have a backup, in case of rain, such as their house,” she said. “People are always amazed at how I can transform a space and make it really special, no matter what. I’m also working with creating a backup space for picnics at a local gallery.”
For now, the picnics are only available on weekends, but Suarez hopes to expand to Friday afternoons, now that we are heading into the spring season with longer days.
So far, planning picnics has been rewarding for Suarez and she says that the best part of starting NOLA PopUp Picnic has been the ability to be creative and bring joy to others.
“I love setting up the small details and making every picnic unique and special,” she said. “I love seeing the look on people’s faces- the happiness.”
NOLA PopUp Picnic
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📸 All photos courtesy NOLA PopUp Picnic