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“After being stuck in the house during the global pandemic, I wanted to be outside more than ever, around my family and friends but in a socially responsible way,” says Ashley Lawson, owner of Picnics in Eden.

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Ashley Lawson has an idea for a stylish picnic that will make your friends say ‘whoa.’

Intrigued by a complementary Facebook post written by Event Planner Hollis Starks promoting a yet-to-be-launched business — Louisville-based Picnics in Eden — I decided to reach out to the owner Ashley Lawson to find out more about these “beatific picnics for all!” events.

Starks, who has been in the event business for years and officially became Lawson’s first Picnics in Eden client, said her husband saw a photo shoot of a beautiful picnic tent while he was walking in Thurman Hutchins Park, and he brought her back to the park to check it out. “I introduced myself to Ashley, her husband Brandon, and their two-year-old son as they were dismantling the tent,” Starks says. “Ashley described Picnics in Eden to me and I was intrigued. Ashley is lovely, gracious and exudes hospitality. We exchanged contact info and I arranged to purchase a picnic gift certificate. Afterward, I posted on Facebook about her business along with a few photos. The response was swift, vast and enthusiastic!”

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Ashley Lawson is an Indianapolis native, who in 2019, relocated to Louisville with her family when her pharmaceutical sales rep husband’s territory became Louisville. Her career over the past five years has been as a projects manager for Ashfield Event Experiences, a meetings and events pharmaceutical planning company.

“I was fortunate to plan meetings all around the world,” Lawson says. “On each trip I would explore the city, collecting different chic design ideas and pieces of the culture to bring back to Kentucky. After being stuck in the house during the global pandemic, I wanted to be outside more than ever, around my family and friends but in a socially responsible way. I was able to draw upon my excursions to bridge the gap in the Louisville market with a chic luxury picnic experience. I even prayed about it and wanted to ensure that it was something that God wanted me to do at this time in my life. Once that decision was made it took me about a month to prepare and organize the business.”

At the moment, a Picnics in Eden event is a two-hour rental, can accommodate a party of six, and has a whimsical boho theme. “I will be extending more themes and larger groups as the business continues to grow.”

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The picnic features a complimentary charcuterie board (an assortment of meats, cheeses, artisan breads, olives, fruit, and nuts artfully arranged on a serving board) and a choice of red or white wine, “although clients are welcome to bring their own food as well,” she adds. “I’m open to setting up an event in (local) client’s homes, parks, and even outside Louisville.” The event provides the tents/pillows/place settings.

“We do want to extend more catering for the picnics, and will rescale as needed, as the demand for our business increases. I wanted to start smaller and then let the business evolve, rather than get too in over my head…with my already having a full-time job,” Lawson says.

As to whether she remains on-site during one of her events, the answer is no. “We leave to give clients their privacy.” Picnics in Eden can also be run year round. “While we offer outdoor picnics, we definitely will be offering indoor picnics for the fall/winter months as well. We even offer picnics indoors during the summer in the event of inclement weather.”

The peace and joy that her new business brings her is evident. “My husband actually sees how much fulfillment I get from just setting up the events,” Lawson says. “My first booking was on Father’s Day, and the client surprised her husband by walking him up to the event blindfolded. And being a part of that….helping someone to create some great memories. That’s fulfilling to me!”

P.S. Pick up a tasty, summery salad to-go from these local restaurants.

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