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Ali Kaminetsky

Ali Kaminetsky

Ali Kaminetsky is a founder and CEO of Modern Picnic, a lunch bag company for women. Modern Picnic provides working women with a chic alternative to the traditional lunchbox with an insulated interior and vegan leather exterior.

 Let’s talk about disrupting an industry… has there ever been any innovation when it comes to taking your lunch to work or are you the first? 

We were the first to market! Before Modern Picnic there were no options targeted towards women who wanted a chic, functional, sustainable solution. We launched in 2018 with the mission to provide women with a chic alternative to the traditional lunchbox. We are a brand built on a foundation of functionality, sustainability, and style with roots in charity, women’s empowerment, and our commitment to creating innovative, multifunctional products.

How did you come up with the name?

The day I came up with the idea for Modern Picnic, I ran back to my apartment, opened up a Google Sheet and began just spitballing names, brainstorming anything that came to mind. Funny enough, I actually wanted the name Urban Picnic at first, but I couldn’t get the domain so the next idea I had was Modern Picnic. Looking back on it, I am so glad Urban Picnic was taking because Modern Picnic is such a better fit.

Ali Kaminetsky

We read that you were working at Macy’s and the need you had personally for a stylish lunchbag is what pushed you to create Modern Picnic. Was there any one thing that gave you the courage to go for it and launch your own business?

When I graduated from college, I began working at Macy’s in their buying program. I would bring my lunch to work everyday because of how much faster, cheaper and healthier it was. However, I quickly realized, I did not have a chic, functional or sustainable way to do so and when I went online to buy myself a lunchbox, I saw options for little kids and men, but nothing for women who wanted to look good or do good. From there, the idea to start Modern Picnic was born. I was 22 years old when I thought of the idea for Modern Picnic so I do believe “ignorance was bliss” in my ability and drive to just go for it. I was so young, there were no doubts in my mind, no limiting beliefs, no risk aversion - I just knew I was going to go for it and make it happen no matter what.

Walk us through your design process. Had you ever designed handbags before? How did you find the manufacturing partnerships?

I had never designed anything before but I had a really clear understanding and vision of what I wanted to create. I made our first “prototype” out of a paper bag from Whole Foods that I cut up, and stapled and taped together. I then took that paper bag (that I was very proud of at the time) to a bag sample maker in NYC, that I had found on Google, to which they told me “we do not make samples out of paper bags, you need a techpack.” From there I got introduced to someone who creates tech packs and the real design process began.

Do you have a favorite Modern Picnic bag? Which is your go-to color?

That is like asking to pick a favorite child! Hm - I would say I definitely wear my Black Croc Tote and Mini Luncher the most but love them all equally :)

What is the most fun you’ve experienced as a founder so far?

Doing something I love everyday! Taking risks, leading by example, and enjoying the process.

Is there one part of the business that comes naturally to you?

I really love working on the creative direction for the business - whether that be photoshoot planning, graphic design, assets/copy…anything that the customer sees, I find myself leaning towards and having a lot of passion for.

What part of the business has been the most challenging?

I think especially when I started out struggling to be taken seriously as a young female founder. Not only was I very young when I started, but I was also creating a new category that no one had seen in the market before before. It is an interesting balance because in the eyes of the consumer, being a young female founder, could be seen as a positive, but amongst business people or investors it may be taken as a negative. Finding that balance and catering to your audience is important.