Picnic On The Green! A Spotlight on Following Your Dreams!
Hi Friends! I have been thinking about all of y’all from all over the world and wishing you safety and peace! With Texas opening up, my entire team is back. We are altering office hours and everyone is wearing masks and goggles to stay safe!! We are so blessed to be able to work and social distance. Last weekend I was so excited to see my two girls and son-in-law-to-be for the first time in weeks!! Wanting to give them a big hug, I contained myself and stayed 6 ft. from them. With Mother’s Day approaching and small businesses struggling I thought it might be fun to spotlight how this smart Mom turned her passion into a business.
Meet Carrie Roper in her own kitchen. With over 20 years of experience in Human Resources, she has a gift of motivating others by engaging employees to become successful, productive and profitable members of organizations. She started her own company Pathfinder HR Solutions to support small to mid-size firms with policy/procedure development, employee engagement strategies, benefits, development and administration, hiring, compensation, and performance management programs. That is how I met Carrie-she helps Segreto with all of these ever changing issues!! With a kind heart, Carrie also started a community ministry (Employment Assistance Ministry: jobministry.org) to help job seekers identify their gifts, passions, and true talents in order to find and maintain meaningful long-term employment. While helping others to discover their true passions, she realized she was not fully pursuing her own AND DECIDED TO FOLLOW HER OWN ADVICE!
Carrie will say “Don’t get me wrong, I love my HR business, I just always have been passionate about food.” Maybe it started with her first word, “chicken,” because she loved her Mom’s fried chicken so much! Carrie is no stranger to the kitchen. In high school she worked at Baskin Robbins, then served up espresso & cappuccino at Gloria Jeans (pre-Starbucks days), then rolled out cinnamon rolls with her stepmother’s home-based bakery business, Sheila Partin’s Sweet Sourdough (now a local, state-wide, and national favorite of restaurants). While other kids were going to the mall, Carrie orchestrated a Supper Club for her friends and her favorite book of choice has always been a cookbook! So, in early 2017 with the help and encouragement from friends and family members, Picnic on the Green – Mobile Café was launched. The logo sets the tone of her offerings, American and European food fresh from market and served al fresco (outdoors) “It has proven to be the most difficult work of my life – both physically and mentally, but absolutely an exciting and rewarding adventure!” Says Carrie.
Focusing on events where food options are limited, especially healthy ones, Picnic on the Green began attending antique, décor and art shows where vendors and patrons welcomed fresh and homemade menu items, like Artichoke Chicken Salad, Beef Tenderloin Lettuce Wraps, Greek Pasta Salad, Jalapeño Corn Chowder, and all-natural fruit & herb snow cones. YUM!!!
While attending Abilene Christian University, Carrie worked for Cypress Street Station which was the first (and only) fine dining restaurant in that part of the state. The owner hired 2 chefs, a husband and wife team that were graduates of the Culinary Institute of America – Hyde Park, NY. She learned new bread making techniques, how to make French tortes, custards, creams, sauces, sponge cakes, mousses, bombes, and many other European and American pastries.
Carrie wanted to create an opportunity to share her love of cooking and business with family and friends. While Carrie leads all cooking and creative efforts, her husband Josh and neighbor John take care of the maintenance. Kids, Grace and Henry, often help on the truck during busy events. Her close friends Priscilla and Vilma, have also been key to the success of the business.
Catering special events in the area proved to be another great market for serving traditional favorites with a twist such as: smoked salmon pate, roasted shrimp with jalapeño cocktail sauce, southwest chicken sliders, candied bacon bites, and an assortment of cakes and pastries – Kahlua Cream Cake being one of the most popular
Packaging has become just as important to her as the food it houses. You know how I love setting a table and I think the presentation allows you to take a breath and really enjoy the anticipation of the delicious food ahead. It makes everything a bit more special! After seeing these, closed and ……..
…………………open, I asked Carrie if she would deliver something sweet as a thank you to our accounting firm who was instrumental in helping us get the small business PPP loan.
With no guidance, look what she came up with. She even signed all the thank you notes from Segreto in handwriting much prettier than my own!
With three different flavors of cheesecake, everyone was thrilled!!!
So, Carrie, what lessons have you learned that would you share with others in their own business ventures?
“My advice to anyone starting a new business is to find a mentor or someone in the business that is willing to share their experiences with you. And, if possible, either work or volunteer in a similar business to obtain first-hand knowledge and exposure to determine whether or not it is a potential success story for you. Often, I’ve invited potential food truck entrepreneurs to work along-side us on the truck. For some, there is a quick realization that it is not fit. For others, it is validation of their true passion – working incredibly hard, preparing delicious food, and making customers happy. “
“Another lesson learned, not only with Picnic on the Green, but throughout my career, is that building a great team is vital to the success of the organization. Chemistry, honest recognition + balance of talents, and candid/thoughtful communication have been the building blocks of our team. We work super hard, but we also have a great time. The moment it is not fun any longer, is the moment we realize we need to change things up. “
“What I’ve learned is that you cannot ask too many questions, nor plan/prep enough, nor make enough friends that are in your industry to share experiences, lessons learned, successes…and a few laughs! And sometimes, as hard as it may be, you have to decline business that does not make sense to take on.“
“Creating something from nothing and receiving a positive response has been extremely rewarding. Meeting people and making new friends across Houston, surrounding areas, and the Hill Country has been even more rewarding. And, if my experience has helped or encouraged someone out there with a passion for food and serving others, that would be the most rewarding of all! “
Right before the Pandemic happened Carrie had set up a permanent location at Kuhl Linscomb here in Houston.I went there on Saturday!! For Mother’s Day they are announcing a new collaboration with the oh-so-chic-home store. Fun, functional, and delicious Picnic Packs! These baskets are filled with Picnic on the Green delectables and beautifully accented with pieces from Kuhl Linscomb’s tabletop collections.
Simply food is super special as well. They all look so Yummy!! Breakfast in a basket Mom? I’m in!
Carrie even has the basket for those Mom’s who would love pouring over beautiful homes while they sip their coffee or perhaps a glass of wine!! Or to order just the books go here and we will ship them right out. All baskets are customized and available for pick-up or delivery. To order call (713-582-5052) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) They have had such a great response that these unique gifts they are now offering for any occasion. Support a local small business or two or three and give such a special homemade gift made with love. Carrie you are brilliant!
He is another creative friend of mine. Another, great Mom and author of Design Chic is coming out with her 6th book and just in time to add to that Mother’s Day basket! The book launched last week and If you’re looking for an upbeat read this is what Publisher’s Weekly said, “Harvey’s optimistic tale just might convince readers that bouncing back can actually land a person in a better place than where they started.” GOSH WE NEED THAT MESSAGE RIGHT NOW. I have read and love all of her books- fun inspiring and warm, I am right in the middle now of this page turner. To order go here.
From “the next major voice in Southern fiction” (Elin Hilderbrand) and the bestselling author of the Peachtree Bluff series comes an odd-couple tale of friendship that asks just how much our past choices define our happiness.
I hope you have all enjoyed meeting two of my favorite gal pals, both of which have followed their passions and built a career from something they love all while raising families!!
Happy Mother’s Day to All! I look forward to next week! Xo Leslie