“I can do that!” Mackenzie Murphy, a Marine spouse of 12 years, said to herself when she decided to launch Carolina Picnic Company in 2021.
“I had seen videos on TikTok of small businesses in Southern California offering luxury picnics on the beach, and it looked like a fun idea,” she said.
Stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Murphy, a stay-at-home mom of two boys aged 12 and 7, wanted to begin her teaching career in 2020.
“After following my husband around the country and even overseas, and with our children being older and a bit more independent, I thought the time had come for me to finally venture outside of the household and put my bachelor’s degree in humanities to good use,” Murphy said.
But the COVID-19 pandemic derailed her plans, forcing her to pivot her dream and help her sons with virtual schooling instead. Then she came across videos of luxury picnics, which sparked her artistic spirit.
“I’ve always been a creative person,” Murphy said, “so the thought of putting together fun and luxury picnics for customers who were looking for a unique way to celebrate their special occasion really intrigued me. I did some research and saw there was nobody else in my area offering this type of service, so I just went for it.”
Creating Carolina Picnic Company
Without questioning her decision, she started building the business from the ground up with the support of her Marine husband.
When it came to the nitty gritty work of starting a business, Murphy moved through the first steps of networking, promoting and all the necessary paperwork with the know-how of a seasoned entrepreneur thanks to her father’s guidance.
“My father started multiple businesses, from farming to building houses, and he always involved me in every way he could since I was a child,” Murphy said. “Even though he worked in predominantly male fields, he always reminded me that, as long as I was willing to work hard, I could do anything. It was my entrepreneurial baptism.”
Her creativity and entrepreneurial mindset, combined with her ability to adapt and persevere no matter the challenge ahead — qualities she credits the military life for instilling in her — led to her current pandemic-proof business. She’s already planning to expand her company and hire helpers.
“I love what I do, not only because I get to play a role in making someone’s occasion even more special, but also because it affords me the freedom to set my own hours and prioritize my family when I need to,” Murphy said. “As a military spouse, having such a flexible schedule that ensures my family is taken care of while my business runs smoothly is crucial, and I can’t think of a traditional career that can guarantee me the same liberty.”
Settled in North Carolina for the foreseeable future, Murphy added that she is proud to serve her military and civilian communities with Carolina Picnic Company.