Business booming for Illawarra's Picnic by the Sea

Fancy organising a picnic and turning up to have it all there waiting for you to be enjoyed.

Picnic by the Sea is doing just that for couples, groups and surprise occasions such as anniversaries, birthdays and proposals.

The Illawarra company will cater, set up and clean up your individualised picnic.

It all started when former international tennis professional Nadia Thompson moved to Kiama Downs and had a lightbulb moment while organising a picnic for her young family.

After being born in South Africa, growing up in New Zealand and moving to the United States to play professional tennis for six years, Nadia met her husband in Sydney, then worked for Tennis Australia as a community tennis officer for the Central West based at Mudgee.

Her and builder husband Dan Thompson then made the decision to move to Kiama and enjoy the South Coast lifestyle.

It was during one of their first family outings at Kiama Downs that the idea for Picnic By The Sea was born.

"We were trying to set up a picnic at the Minnamurra Headland as a family because we always liked doing something with our two young boys. But the complication of trying to put a picnic rug down with some food juggling two infants, a dog and a pram it just wasn't happening," she said.

"We started thinking wouldn't it be good if we did this and offered it as a service. I saw a niche in the market. I have always loved local produce and always shopped at the farmers markets myself. So I thought about incorporating that and other businesses into it".

The enthusiastic response Mrs Thomspon received from other businesses when she started talking about the idea spurred her on and Picnic By the Sea has grown so fast she has put on casual employees to help her meet the demand.

She said locals and visitors loved the idea and she is expecting to be very busy this spring and summer.

"Our clients just arrive and it is all set up for them," she said.

"Then they just send us a text message and we pack it all up for them".

"It is super easy. The food it there and everything is supplied.

"It is a two-hour duration for couples and four hours for larger groups.

"We do a lot of baby showers, hens parties, anniversaries and proposals"

Minnamurra Headland has been a popular spot since day one.

Mrs Thompson said Loves Bay was also a romantic surprise on the coastal track between Kiama and Gerringong.

"They take them on a walk and they arrive midway to find a picnic ready for them," she said,

"That has always been a fun one. We hear stories where the girl says 'I am ready to turn around' or 'I am over this" and the he is going 'no, no we are just going a little bit further'. And it all ends really well.

"The feedback we get has been so amazing. Everything we have done has been so unique. There is a story behind every picnic. I just love it".

Mrs Thompson also loves it when she is asked to design something unique such as a theme for a hens party.

Another booking is for a picnic-style wedding for 60 people at Minnamurra will feature a big grazing table and lighting.

"That is something I really want to expand on with the business," she said.

"We also do grazing tables and platters. That is another side of the business I started for winter but has taken off as another part of the business on its own".

Mrs Thompson is also open to doing picnics for people going to the races or vineyards and grazing tables for corporate functions.

"I want to train my new casual employees and slowly expand," she said.

"80 per cent of my business is coming from Instagram. People are sharing their experience with a photo and their friends are going "what is that"."

Mrs Thompson doesn't think she will ever leave Kiama Downs, not only because of its scenic location and great lifestyle. But also because the community is so friendly and supportive.

"Everyone has been behind me and my idea," she said.

"It has been a big learning experience but a lot of fun".

Picnic By The Sea operates between Wollongong, Nowra and the Southern Highlands and hopes to include more local suppliers.

"I love working with local suppliers. We have everyone at the Farmers Markets on board but as we expand I would like to include more local produce," she said.

"That is a big thing for me. I never saw the business as just me running it. I wanted it to be a real community feel and for everyone to feel a part of it".