PASSION

Auditor who ventured into picnic business

Matilda Wambugu has always liked doing events since her campus days

In Summary
  • With the restrictions brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, people wanted something to get them out of the house but not into an enclosed area.
  • This fueled people to venture into the picnic business whereby you can get a curated and well designed outdoor area to relax.
Lelek picnics founder, Matilda Wambugu, at a picnic setup for a client
Lelek picnics founder, Matilda Wambugu, at a picnic setup for a client
Image: HANDOUT

Have you ever been on a picnic?

I guess most will answer yes as a picnic is as simple as just placing a shuka outside and enjoying the sun drinking a glass of water.

With the restrictions brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, people sought something to get them out of the house but not into an enclosed area.

This fuelled people to venture into the picnic business whereby you can get a curated and well designed outdoor area to relax.

Matilda Wambugu, an auditor has always liked organising events since her campus days.

From birthdays to just simple friend hangouts she was always the go to person. 

When the pandemic hit in March 2020, Matilda started working from home and had a lot of spare time so she wanted to start doing events for people.

She consulted a friend whom she intended to set up the business with and they started meeting up with people who were in events but with the pandemic constraining things, little was achieved

Matilda did not despair and continued researching on what event business she best fitted her dream.

“I didn't know picnics were that big in the country, I just knew they were expensive from what I had seen on social media,” said Matilda.

After a lot of research, she saw the business as one that would work best for her and in March 2021 she set up Lelek picnics.

“From what I knew on picnics, my main aim was to do picnics on a budget to remove the notion that picnics are expensive,” she said.

Initially she wanted to name her business, Picnics On a Budget, but found this too wordy. 

PACKAGES

To stay to her course of affordable picnics, Matilda has curated three different packages from simple and cute to luxurious which are affordable.

The first is the Maasai shuka (blanket) experience where they set up a simple shuka and put some simple decor and niceties.

Then there is Nashilu which means the one I have chosen. This package is tailored to what you want and according to your budget.

The last one is the luxury package which is also tailored to your needs and provides gold cutlery, wine, custom message board and a card.

Costs for the picnic range from Sh3,000 to Sh28,000.

Matilda notes that when starting off they would get clients who wanted more than they had paid for and from this learnt to document all requests in order to provide a personalised service.

At the beginning, they used to outsource the items, and for the first picnic this costed them Sh 20,000.

Currently, Matilda has invested in her own materials from pillows to tables and cutlery as this makes planning more easier

“When we were solely doing picnics in gardens it was okay to outsource as most places offer the items, but when people started preferring the picnics in their homes hiring from gardens couldn't work,” said Matilda.

With the picnic trend taking root among Kenyans, you can host a picnic as just a hangout, a baby shower, bridal shower or even as a romantic event for two people.

Nashilu setup at a garden
Nashilu setup at a garden
Image: HANDOUT

CHALLENGES

The changing and unpredictable Kenyan weather poses a major challenge nowadays, with rains pouring when the dry season is expected.  

For instance, August, is usually a dry and sunny month but some days' heavy rains were witnessed.

According to Matilda, bad weather is one of the main challenges faced as picnics depend on good weather.

“The cold season from July to the beginning of August saw many of our clients reschedule their picnics to a later date,” said Matilda.

She also notes that the uncertainties brought about by Covid-19 such as lockdowns and barring people from public parks affects business.

In April, one month after starting their business, President Uhuru announced a lockdown in Nairobi, Kajiado, Machakos, Nakuru and Kiambu, after they were marked as red zone areas on account of high numbers of Covid-19 cases.

The lockdown saw the government ban picnics in public spaces reduce the spread of Covid-19.

Matilda says this particular lockdown really came as a big challenge as she already had a couple of picnics arranged.

Actually there was one for 20 people which she was doing on the first weekend after the announcement and on arrival at the park they were denied access.

“This was quite disappointing or me as I had already bought food and hired equipment to use for the picnic,” she said adding that she was grateful after for understanding clients agreed to reschedule once the parks were opened.

“It is my hope that the Covid-19 situation in the country is managed so that we forget about the story of lockdowns,” Matilda concluded.

To book picnic with Matilda, you can find her social media pages named Lelek picnics on Facebook and Instagram.