Picnicking is a wonderful outdoor activity cherished by many worldwide. However, putting together a great set-up, not to mention spending time and money on things like blankets, baskets and napkins, may be the major reason some of us derive little enjoyment from it.
Enter entrepreneurs Ho Hui Nee and Foo Jiong Kit who found a way to deal with such issues by starting a picnic rental business three years ago, providing equipment that is perfect for the occasion while saving you the hassle of having to source for these essential items.
“Both of us like picnics. We always go on a picnic to celebrate Valentine’s Day or other events. We would make our own decorations and prepare a barbecue. Looking at the picnic essentials we had, one of my friends said, ‘Hey, why don’t you start renting them out?’” says Ho.
The couple learnt that the picnic rental business is quite well-known in South Korea and Japan, where a number of cafés in those countries offer the service.
“When we first started, it wasn’t popular in Malaysia. We thought it was an opportunity and something we could try,” she says.
The name Daily Sparks indicates Ho and Foo’s vision of an enterprise that adds fun elements to your special and momentous events. They offer more than 15 settings such as Classic, English Style, Japanese, Boho and Piknik-lah for various events, with the price starting from RM50. “We have a wide range of themes to suit different personalities, preferences or occasions,” says Ho.
Your next (or first) picnic experience will be as easy as browsing through a catalogue that has all the requisite information, such as photos, items provided in a specific set and price. A slot is confirmed once payment is made. All that’s left for clients to do is pick up the set from the partners' place in SS2, Petaling Jaya.
Clients are free to take the picnic set wherever they desire as long as they return it to the initial pick-up point. “We have had customers bring the set to Penang for their wedding photo shoot and some to other states for a staycation.”
Aiming to provide picnickers a fun experience, Daily Sparks gives individuals the freedom to decorate their own setting according to their creativity. This is also the reason food and beverages are not included in its service.
Decorating a space has always been Ho’s passion. She gathers inspiration to keep creating new themes to elevate their clients’ experience from everywhere, including social media. “I reference a lot from overseas to see how people set picnic spaces nicely. I also look for ideas on Instagram and Pinterest.”
To date, the Instagram business account has an impressive 35,000 followers. Working at an e-commerce company as a digital marketer previously exposed Ho to the digital presence of brands. Apart from utilising ads on the platform, engaging and inspiring content is important to attract customers. “We make sure our contents are attractive and we don’t post the same thing over and over again,” she says.
The basis of a picnic is alfresco. When the pandemic hit, Daily Sparks was not spared its impact as the services offered were meant for outdoor activities that had to be put on hold due to lockdowns. Optimistic and innovative, the pair viewed the situation as a blessing in disguise and explored other possibilities for the business.
“It gave us a new opportunity to focus on indoor activities and invent some of our popular sets — Home Movie Night and Popcorn Machine. These arrangements let customers enjoy quality time with loved ones in the comfort of their home,” says Foo.
“Renting projector and popcorn machines is pretty much a new concept. We have never seen anyone else offer this type of service,” Ho adds.
Given the current health situation, many people still prefer holding family dinners or get-togethers at home. “We also see mothers doing this for their kids — probably because children love popcorn and home is a safe place for them to have fun,” she observes.
The Home Movie Night set comes with a projector. An optional device is a projector screen — required if one does not have a white wall to serve as the screen. Setting up a projector on your own sounds like a daunting task, especially if one is not tech-savvy.
“We will send them a tutorial via a video on how to switch it on. So far, all our customers have managed to set up the device on their own. We make it very direct and easy for them to use.”
Ho never envisioned herself a successful entrepreneur. Although she ventured into several small businesses and had freelance jobs, none of them worked out. She feels lucky to have found something she loves doing and that sustains her livelihood.
“Someone told me that if you haven’t found something you like, it means you haven’t tried hard enough. So, you need to keep trying and exploring.”
Foo agrees. “We don’t need a concrete plan or have to know everything in order to start a business. We should always just do it, testing and learning along the way.”
Ultimately, both want to be part of their customers’ memorable occasions such as birthdays, proposals and other kinds of celebrations. “We feel happy every time we get feedback. To see them planning a surprise party for loved ones and just enjoying the moment especially, makes us think how impactful this business is.”
This article first appeared on Jul 25, 2022 in The Edge Malaysia.