Photo courtesy of Puppy Picnic Co.
As we begin to come out of our pandemic shells, a number of small businesses have risen up from the ashes of COVID-19. Those random hobbies we learned on TikTok fueled many creative minds to share their impressive projects with the rest of their community. San Diego State alumnus Ciera Chang is a perfect example of converting pandemic passions to small business ventures.
On March 10, Chang talked to students virtually on Zoom about her time at SDSU and how her small business Puppy Picnic Co. came to be, with the help from her own furry best friend, Kenzie.
As part of the SDSU Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) Center’s Small Business Week, a handful of local APIDA business owners engaged with students in conversations about their entrepreneurial journeys as a member of the APIDA community. These presentations were all in preparation for the APIDA Makers’ Market, where SDSU students gathered around the Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union last Thursday to sell and promote their own small businesses.
Chang graduated from SDSU in 2018 with a major in journalism and an emphasis in public relations. During her time on campus, she was involved in multiple student organizations, such as the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), but also was a rising lifestyle influencer on the side.
Chang has been a content creator on social media since high school, starting off as just a hobby and later becoming a gateway to the success of Puppy Picnic Co.
Puppy Picnic Co. was created post-peak pandemic at the end of 2020 towards the beginning of 2021.
For Chang, it all began when she decided to foster then adopt her terrier, Kenzie. Throughout the months of isolation, Kenzie became Chang’s best friend and Chang decided to throw her an extravagant first birthday party.
After months of planning, the puppy party was a success, and she came to realize how much fun she had with the planning and setting up.
“And then once I did Kenzie’s birthday, I was like, ‘Oh, I should start doing them for dogs and dogs’ birthdays where we can bring your dogs because Kenzie comes with me everywhere anyways,’” Chang said. “I had seen very few select businesses that had some dog friendly packages that you could add on, kind of like an extra. And I was like, I should just do one, completely based on dogs.”
And with that idea was how Puppy Picnic Co. came to life, with the help of her already strong base of social media followers and small business connections.
For Chang, each picnic is special and a delight to create, but it’s the engagement during one of her puppy picnics that holds a special place in her heart. Chang now has a retail store at Liberty Station to book appointments for the puppy picnics and to sell products from other vendors. She started off with 10 vendors at her store and now has over 20 vendors.
Despite contrary belief, when it comes to developing a business, genuine support between one another is key to growing in your industry. She sees that in not only her small business, but also her regular job as a senior copywriter for Raindrop Agency.
“In my nine to five life of working in an agency, I’m always working in teams and collaborating with other people. I love the community aspect of it. I always feel like community over competition is just very important,” Chang said. “I think it’s important to lift other people up and even with my picnic business, I’m only one part of it. Rather than me trying to just be it all for everybody, we bring in these different voices, these different perspectives. My main goal as a planner, and as a business owner, is to bring all these things together and make something really beautiful.”
Today, Chang’s puppy picnics have gained social media momentum, with already over five thousand followers on Instagram. People from all over the country are contacting Chang to collaborate, even vendors in New York.
Chang also makes it clear that her puppy picnics are not exclusive to dogs only. All furry and non furry friends are welcome to be a part of the fun and create their own special days.
For more information on Chang’s Puppy Picnic Co. or to book your next puppy party, visit their Liberty Station location, browse their packages online, or direct message Chang on her Instagram.