Jolly Joy is a vibrant new online concept store brought exclusively to the Netherlands by Carol Van Der Zwaag, its founder, owner, and all-round manager.

Carol is from Brazil. She moved to the Netherlands three years ago with her husband and their now three-year-old son. They settled in Friesland, where Carol’s husband is from.

“My husband is a farmer, so after my move to the Netherlands I started looking for a profession that would complement the farming life”, Carol recalls. “I have a Bachelor of Education – I’m a teacher – so I thought I could organise childrens’ parties in our farm’s beautiful garden.’

When Carol started looking for supplies to decorate and adorn her garden, she discovered that the choice of childrens’ party decorations in the Netherlands was very limited. That’s when she realised that there was a gap in the Dutch market. She had identified a space that she could develop and enrich thanks to her cultural background, as in Brazil the party decoration business is a big one.

A Joyful Occasion to Connect with Your Child

In Brazil, travelling is not easy. Distances are enormous, and most families do not have the means to travel to celebrate holidays or special occasions. That’s why a whole culture has evolved around parties. Parties are a big deal: families sometimes save up for a whole year in order to be able to spend extravagant sums on dazzling decorations.

Planning and preparation are a big slice of the fun, and a great occasion to bond with your loved ones.

“These are great occasions for everybody in the family to get involved,” Carol explains. “Planning and preparation are a big slice of the fun, and a great occasion to bond with your loved ones.”

A year ago, for her son’s third birthday, Carol threw a safari-themed party. As she could not find the decorations she wanted here in the Netherlands, she bought the supplies back home in Brazil and had them shipped to Friesland. The party was a success, a real poster piece, and a chance for Carol to show her Dutch family and friends how much fun you can have while creating such an occasion.

“I think that’s what we’re missing here,” Carol says, “the playfulness of life. In Brazil even if we have a hard and difficult life, we play with that, we have fun, we celebrate without holding back.”

All You Need Is a Table

Carol launched Jolly Joy in the summer of 2017. At the present time, her products are available online only, where you can find a carefully curated selection of party decorations themed appropriately for babies to teenagers, and a wide choice of accessories from birthday invitations, to little decorative chalkboards, to themed kids’ tattoos. “A detail-focused party is my idea of a good party,” Carol explains. “Fancy details and unique products, miniatures of the theme of the party, plates shaped like strawberries, cups that are little lampshades – it all becomes a joyful flight of fantasy.”

All supplies are imported from Brazil, but don’t fret about delivery times – everything shown on Jolly Joy’s webshop is already in the Netherlands, in the barn of Carol’s Friesland house, which she adapted to become a storage space for her budding business.

And don’t worry – you don’t need to have a garden. You can decorate your dream party in a little room, or even just a table – Carol’s business offers packages for every space and size.

A Business Mind with a Collective Heart

Another thing you will find on Jolly Joy’s website, but which you are unlikely to find anywhere else, is a blog specifically dedicated to party decorations. The blog is written by guest authors, Carol’s friends and collaborators.

“In Brazil everyone works in partnerships,” Carol explains. “In Europe businesses tend to be more individualistic, but I like to keep this Brazilian way of doing things – team up with other entrepreneurs to give my clients the best experience.” When Carol organizes a party, she will have a partnership with a cake-baker, or a florist, so as to bring a joyful collective spirit to the services she provides.

“I’d like to become a reference in children’s parties,” Carol answers when asked about her plans for the future. I’m planning to attend courses in Brazil to get really inside the business. I want people to come to me with their ideas so I can help them achieve their vision. I’d love to have more direct interactions with my clients.”

Advice, Coffee, Playroom, Community

Carol’s dream is to open a physical Jolly Joy shop, probably in Groningen, which again would not be your average concept store. Carol wants her shop to become a place for mothers – especially foreign mothers, who raise their children away from their families and cultural backgrounds – to come together and find mutual support.  

Carol wants to create a space where she can sell her supplies, but also have a little café with a play corner where kids can keep themselves busy while their mothers get advice, have a cup of tea and a chat. “I want my business to be more than just a business,” she smiles. “I want to create a community where everyone feels welcome. Just come, have a laugh, and go home with your spirits lifted.”

Please go to Jolly Joy’s online store to browse and purchase their party products.  

Note: Jolly Joy has paid to be featured on Amsterdam Mamas because they believe that their services would be of interest and benefit to our readers, and we think so too. For more information on sponsored posts and advertising on Amsterdam Mamas, please see our Advertising and Disclosure policy.

Photo credit: Jolly Joy

Marta Parlatore

Marta Parlatore is a filmmaker, freelance writer, and aspiring novelist who spends most of her days hustling time to write between the challenges of being a Toddler Mama and Household CEO. She's the founder of The Story Desk, a very independent screenwriting collective, and she loves to tell embarrassing stories about motherhood on her personal blog Baby Blues & Rock'N'Roll. Find her also on Facebook and Instagram.