Meet Two Young South Bay Women Who Share an Epicurean, Entrepreneurial Spirit
- CategoryEat & Drink, People
- Written byTanya Monaghan
We sat comfortably perched on pillows on the edge of the cliff. The low table in front of us was styled to perfection, complete with a charcuterie board and bottle of wine, as we contentedly watched the crashing waves below. It was the height of the pandemic, and this moment was a much-needed reprieve from our quarantined life at home.
The experience was curated by Jenna Gaudet, founder of The Picnic Chick, who aims to give each client a personally tailored experience. The inspiration for Jenna—an enterprising 17-year-old student at South High School—was the beach picnic she created for her grandfather’s birthday in August 2020. While she started her business to save money for a car, her mother encouraged her to seize the opportunity by investing in some picnic sets.
She took the challenge and created her own logo, social media accounts and website. By September Jenna had launched The Picnic Chick, and she was booked solid by December. In March she was able to buy her first car, which made the logistics of running her business much easier.
The business has been so successful, Jenna hired her older sister Jessie to help out. She also partnered with three friends: April, Brooke and Bella. Brooke created Brooke’s Bundles and specializes in charcuterie boards. April established Simpatico Sweets, which presents beautiful desserts, and Bella launched Berries by Bella, which offers an array of chocolate-covered berries.
The Picnic Chick shows no signs of packing up. It’s no surprise that Jenna plans to earn a business degree after graduating from high school.
When Emmy Rener graduated from Palos Verdes High School during the height of the pandemic last June, she was due to attend the University of Michigan that fall. Instead she chose to take a gap year, which proved to be one of the best decisions she’d ever made.
“I wanted to go the law school route, but during my gap year I needed something to keep me focused and excited,” she says. “I’m a foodie and I love creating beautiful grazing tables and platters, so I launched Sophisticated Spreads.”
Her father, Mathew Rener, a well-known local interior designer, is no stranger to hospitality. Emmy shares, “We would have family parties growing up, and I was always in charge of doing the appetizers.”
During the shutdown, she extended her services to others and found a niche in the market. “There was a lot of routine food-eating going on—people were cooking the same meals and ordering the same sort of takeout. I thought it would be fun to switch it up, so I created to-go cheese boards.”
Emmy launched Sophisticated Spreads in September, and by the end of last year it had blown up. Her biggest break came in December. Actress Jessica Alba, an advocate for small businesses, featured Sophisticated Spreads in a “Small Business Tuesday” Instagram post. Emmy’s Instagram account grew from 1,300 followers to 15,000 overnight.
At that moment, she realized this was the beginning of something great. The social boost helped Emmy deliver her grazing tables to celebrities such as Sofia Vergara and Tori Spelling and grow Sophisticated Spreads’ following to 27,000 on Instagram and more than 100,000 on TikTok.
Emmy’s success made her rethink attending the University of Michigan. “I did not expect this to happen. I thought I would just be driving down my street and delivering to friends and family every few days.” When college admissions started opening again, Emmy decided to apply to a few local schools so she could keep her business thriving. Since most of her family members are USC alumni, she accepted the college’s offer to attend.
Emmy plans to continue running her business while attending school. Her dad helps manage everything, including her recent expansion into catering for weddings. “Sophisticated Spreads is doing all sorts of events—delivering grazing tables, dessert tables and brunch boards all throughout L.A., Orange County and especially the South Bay. It’s a dad-daughter business now, and I’m so grateful.”