Modern Picnic’s Chic Lunchbox Solution

In 2016, Ali Kaminetsky graduated from Lehigh University and headed to the Big Apple to start her new job as a buyer for Macy’s, when she ran into a problem. Crazy high rent for shoebox-size apartments? Ubiquitous fashion flair that made getting dressed each morning like preparing for a Project Runway competition? Well, no, not exactly, but her conundrum was somewhat related to these facets of life in NYC.

“I was bringing my lunch to work every day. It was faster, cheaper, healthier—all the girls in the office were doing it,” recounts Ali. “But there was no chic, functional, sustainable way to do so, and when I went online to buy myself a lunchbox, all the options were for kids and men.”

left: Ali showing off Modern Picnic food containers that fit perfectily in her Black Croc Large Luncher. right: Black Large Luncher

Parents of the Uber Eats generation, there is hope: Ali assures us that when faced with the prospect of blowing their paychecks on “disgusting” lunches, young adults will actually prepare their own food. They just need a cool way to tote their cuisine to work, and this Greenwich native created the solution.

“I had absolutely no idea how to take an idea in my head and execute it,” says Ali, who studied marketing and communications in school. “It took me two years. I had no background in product development or manufacturing or fundraising. I figured it out as I went along.”

A Division 1 tennis player, Ali has always been ambitious. She says she took the energy and focus she used to bring to the court and channeled it into her new company: Modern Picnic.

“My naiveté worked in my favor,” she says. “I had no fear of failure. I had nothing to lose and everything to gain.” Ali took her business to seven figures and it soon outgrew her parents’ garage in Greenwich.

Black Wicker Mini

The Modern Picnic line looks like a designer handbag collection. The Tote ($250) is made of vegan leather and comes in classy white with black accents, cream or black (in croc or canvas). A removable insulated pouch turns a bag lunch into a covert passenger in a sleek vessel for everything a gal needs to get through the day—from laptop to lunch to lipstick. The Backpack ($210) also plays double duty with an insulated compartment, plus room for work and play and primping essentials. The Luncher ($159) is a purse-size chic lunchbox option. The Snacker ($59) looks like a leather makeup case but is built for a sandwich or snack and is easily wipeable, as are all Modern Picnic products. A new wicker collection takes the picnic basket aesthetic to a whole new level of chic.

Ali’s concept was so unique that she landed a coveted spot on the hit show Shark Tank. “Since I started Modern Picnic, people kept saying, ‘You should go on Shark Tank.’ Nothing like this existed,” says Ali. “I wasn’t picked the first year. I applied again and was chosen the next year.” The episode aired February 2. Modern Picnic did not land the $400,000 investment Ali was seeking, but she got some great advice (lower the hefty marketing budget), and her website saw a 915 percent bump in site traffic compared to the prior day.

“It was really surreal and amazing, being able to pitch in front of the sharks, and to actually air was an honor and privilege,” she says. “Sometimes ‘no,’ just means ‘maybe later.’”

Although Ali didn’t get a Shark to bite, she got invaluable advice, and her website took off after the episode aired.

Modern Picnic is now catching on with the younger set as well. “We had a Mini Luncher that wasn’t for little girls, but we found that little girls were carrying them,” explains Ali. “So we created a Mommy and Me collection.”

Those who like taking their lunch to work but don’t like leaving a furry friend at home can have their Modern Picnic product customized with a picture of their pet. “We partnered with an incredible female artist, who handpaints from photos customers submit,” says Ali. “We have a longstanding relationship with PETA. All of our products are vegan-friendly and reusable to minimize plastic and paper waste.”

Giving back is intrinsic to the brand. Other charitable partners include The Pink Agenda, City Harvest, The Trevor Project and Dress for Success.

Modern Picnic can be found at Saks, Bloomingdale’s, select boutiques and modernpicnic.com.

 

 

 

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