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How A Pandemic Picnic Date Night Turned Into A Pop-Up Event Planning Business For Chicago Couple

Pretty Little Creations, which provides pop-up picnics for date nights, birthdays, anniversaries and other celebrations, is run by an interior designer and her boyfriend.

Pretty Little Creations arranges picnic setups all over Chicago and the surrounding suburbs.
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WEST LAWN — What started as a couple trying to get creative with their dates during the pandemic has become a full-fledged picnic-themed business venture. 

Pretty Little Creations is a new event planning service in the city. Since June, co-owners and partners Esbeidi Zavala of Burbank and Miguel Carmona of West Lawn have set up elaborate picnic settings for a number of occasions, including date nights, birthdays and anniversaries. 

“It basically just started off as something I could branch out to and use my creativity outside of work — to something that’s my own,” said Zavala, the CEO. 

At parks across the city, the couple set up elegant and colorful themed picnic spots for clients, with balloons, blankets, table settings and other accessories. Prices start at $150 and go up depending on what the client wants — from mood lighting to fancy charcuterie boards.

The couple started the picnics when many businesses closed and date nights became hard to plan. They missed spending time outdoors and found themselves spending more time on devices. 

“We went on a lot of small little dates during COVID and basically all we did was just stay in our car,” Zavala said. “We were like, ‘How can we still do that, but make it feel more like a date, not just like us in our car, like watching Netflix or just eating takeout in our car.’ So I think a lot of it just came from, you know, wanting that outdoor experience.”

After a few fancy picnics of their own, they decided to use Zavala’s degree in interior architecture and Carmona’s enthusiasm and creativity to start a pop-up picnic business.

Now, the two work together on Pretty Little Creations, a side venture and hobby. Each client’s unique picnic vision allows the couple to get creative and bring joy to proposals, surprise birthdays or romantic anniversary dates.

“It’s honestly less about any financial benefits and more just about spending time with her and getting to do something other than you know, just hanging out and watching TV or going to dinner,” he said. “It’s something that we do all day. We talk about different themes, different designs, what we can do to make PLC better.” 

In two months since they launched, Zavala and Carmona have found success — The Pretty Little Creations Instagram page has nearly 700 followers, and the couple regularly get business in Lincoln Park. 

Family and friends have helped promote their new business, but they are also generating new customers through word-of-mouth praise from clients.

“It’s just awesome to see that the word is getting out there to people outside of our circle, you know,” Carmona said. “We still attribute a lot to our friends and family. But right now, it looks like it’s getting around in different ways.”

Pretty Little Creations offers its services all over the city and surrounding suburbs. They’re considering expanding with movie nights, birthday parties and tea parties. Zavala’s love of holidays could also manifest in new setups like Christmas tree decorating or Thanksgiving spreads.

“PLC is becoming less about the picnics and more about event planning and just making beautiful setups in general,” Carmona said.

Said Zavala: “At some point, it’s all about creating those beautiful memories with the people that you love the most and love spending time with.”

Those interested in booking with Pretty Little Creations can message Zavala and Carmona on the business’ Instagram page.

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