Today we’d like to introduce you to Tara and Jillian Torcaso.
Hi Tara and Jillian, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
We are sisters…sixteen years apart but best friends! Jillian is finishing her senior year of high school and Tara worked in corporate for years, most recently in tech prior to starting Dolce Picnics. During COVID, our mom became very ill and I became the partial guardian for Jillian. As we got into summer, the company I worked for took some major changes and like many, I became unhappy with the environment working from home. Jillian was planning to get a job at a cafe and I started looking for jobs that had a more creative side that I would enjoy more. One night, we were watching The Bachelor and saw this adorable picnic setup on one of the dates. We started talking about it and agreed we could do this together! It started out as a side job on the weekends, but three weeks into it we held an event with none other than a Bachelor alum. Two weeks after that, we were booked for a birthday party for a major designer with several celebrity guests in attendance. By February of 2021, we started hosting up to eight events per week on average and I left my tech job to do this full time. By March, we bought a giant cargo van and a warehouse to store all of our equipment.
Both of us create the designs and Jillian handles the customer service side while I handle the tech portion. With Jillian’s knowledge of brand partnerships and leveraging social media, we have been blessed to work with celebrities, influencers, and brands from Paula Abdul to Blizzard Entertainment. The road to get here wasn’t easy, but we kept riding the wave of success and grew quicker than we dreamed. We started with $500 and an Ikea coffee table, using items from home to decorate. A year later, we have completed just over 300 events.
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Owning a small business, especially in the first year, is a rollercoaster to say the least. When we started in the picnic business, there was really only one other company doing this. It was and still is a very new industry so we had to learn as we went with no guidance. There was a lot of trial and error, leading to lots of learning with each event. Growing fast is a blessing, but at the same time we were not financially ready so early on to accommodate some of the larger events so I took another $300 out of savings to buy eight more tables from Ikea so that we could host the event for the designer. Looking back, this was one of the best decisions because it opened so many doors for us. For a long time, we only had my Jetta. It could only hold so much at one time, so for larger events we would have to do two to three trips to the beach to get the decorations there. Other challenges were working with cities to allow permits and learning where we were and weren’t allowed to set up. We also dealt with competitors emerging that began messaging our Instagram followers. We even had one company that would copy every post we made, word for word. Others would copy our exact theme names and designs. As a result, we kept coming up with new themes and ideas to stay innovative, unique, and ahead of the curve. In the end, it pushed us to be better!
Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
We are not just a luxury picnic company but a full event planning service. We can do setups at the beach, in a park, in your backyard, and even in a variety of secret spots. This past summer, we ventured into micro-weddings and have now completed three weddings ranging in size from 20 to 120. We are primarily known for our picnics where we celebrate anniversaries, date nights, baby and bridal showers, birthdays, bachelorette parties, brand launches, company gatherings, and more. Other services include our beach and outdoor movie nights, our luxury beach cabana setup, dining under the redwoods at the Environmental Nature Center, our chef experience, and a variety of proposal packages.
We aim to be more than just a service, but a full experience. We are inspired by immersive music festivals, travel, and fashion so we incorporate these elements into our designs. We currently have fifteen themes inspired by different places around the world, including our California Dreaming theme inspired by the beauty right here at home. Our goal is to transport guests to another place by creating an overall atmosphere and set the vibe. One of our most unique offerings is our exclusive contract with the Environmental Nature Center in Newport Beach that allows guests to picnic in a forest setting under redwoods trees with an easy five-minute hike.
We have been very lucky to have created strong relationships with a variety of local vendors. From private chefs to wineries to balloons and beyond, we are able to elevate each experience whether that is a three-course meal cooked on the beach or a wine pairing package. We are known for our next-level designs, our attention to detail, and our experience. Many picnics offer more neutral, boho decor which is beautiful. While we also offer a classic boho theme, we think of ourselves as boho and beyond because we love incorporating color and offering dynamic themes where we go all-out with the decor.
We are most proud of the fact that guests, including celebrities, will contact us because they heard of us through the grapevine. For us, that means we are exceeding expectations enough for our guests to tell others about their experience. One time, we received a call from Paula Abdul and her manager stating that they had heard so much about us and wanted to book us for an event for a TikTok series. The day she held the event, the CEO of TikTok called her and said the designs used were incredible. That was a huge honor, first she had somehow heard of us and then secondly because we were noticed by major companies. Since then, we have been featured in several magazines and will have a television feature this January.
Otherwise, we are very proud of our charity partnerships. Each month, we partner with a different charity to give back to the community. Sometimes that comes in the form of a donation with a portion our profits, other times it is giving a picnic experience away as part of a silent auction. We have contributed to a variety of programs that support education, fighting homelessness, animal care, and more.
We have also been running a separate page called The Picnic Community which offers advice, tips, and more to anyone starting a picnic business. We didn’t have anything to help us when we got started, so we love helping others. We now work with picnics locally and internationally that share tips with others that we reshare. So many people are grateful for this, and that makes us happy!
Are there any apps, books, podcasts, blogs or other resources you think our readers should check out?
We love looking at the Houzz app with interior designer features! Interior design is very similar to what we do in the sense that we take a space (like a beach) and transform it into something else with the right placement of props and decor. We are able to get a lot of ideas with color schemes and trends by following interior designers.
- $360 for two
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: www.dolcepicnics.com
- Instagram: @dolcepicnics
- Facebook: @dolcepicnics
- Other: TikTok: @dolcepicnics Pinterest: @dolcepicnics
Jordan Lewis, JLewshoots