Life’s a Picnic
Andrea Hernandez, founder of Merienda Picnic, talks about her passion for upping the ante when it comes to a day in the park.
For Andrea Hernandez, the concept for her business came directly from her cultural roots. Growing up Latina, she says her family was always planning gatherings and celebrations. She also attended Northeastern University, known for their co-op program centered on entrepreneurship.
“The concept of Merienda was conceived last summer,” says Hernandez. “Everyone loves a picnic, but the labor-intensive planning, packing, and cleanup often cause people to rethink their outdoor plans.”
Wouldn’t it be great, she thought, if people could order a picnic like they order a pizza.
“Basket, wine, food - everything! I thought the process could be much easier,” she says. “That's also how we coined the tag line, Life's a picnic! We want to make our client’s experience as enjoyable as possible.”
From their on-demand service, clients can expect to receive a fully stocked picnic basket for two within the hour. Hernandez says they’ve partnered with local businesses like St. James Cheese Company and Brady's Wine Warehouse to provide highly curated picnic baskets for clients.
“From our concierge service, you can expect a catered picnic for larger groups or events where we do the setup and cleaning for you,” she says.
While she’s worked with startups in the past, Hernandez says that she’s never ventured out on her own before now and having confidence in the early months is often challenging.
“It’s not easy taking a risk and leaving your comfort zone,” she says. “My biggest struggles came from within. It’s been hard to push past the fear and the discomfort.”
One other struggle has been to promote the actual company name, Merienda. Although she was advised to change it, Merienda translates to picnic in Spanish. While she knows many of her clients don’t know that, she says she wants to stay true to her roots.
“It’s a struggle, because we are relatively new and we're still working on pushing brand awareness,” she says. “I'm confident that with our service and offerings, Merienda will soon become a staple name.”
One of the benefits of creating a completely original startup concept is that Hernadez feels her business is able to collaborate as opposed to competing with other businesses.
“Our unique business really does not compete directly with any other business in New Orleans,” she says. “More than just a meal, our services aim to encourage clients to explore the beautiful green spaces, spend more time with friends and family while enjoying local products. As the seasons change, we plan to update the different basket menus as well as collaborate with additional food vendors.”
One of Hernandez’s favorite elements of her business is the romantic side she sees in her clients.
“When I first started the business I expected my customers to be majority females,” she says. “To date we receive a lot more orders from males looking to take their significant others on dates, or to celebrate anniversaries or birthdays! The most popular picnic spot is areas around City Park, in particular the Singing Oak Tree. We do encourage our clients to explore all the other green spaces in New Orleans. We will soon be including recommended picnic spots on our website.”
You can order your own picnic via www.meriendapicnic.com