Small Businesses, Big Results: Jollity & Co.

by Ryan Miller

By Angela Blue

Owner: Kristin Lindsey
November 2015
2111 Granby St., Norfolk
Number of Employees:

Inside Jollity & Co., products are meticulously categorized by color or theme, down to the most miniscule items like ice cream cone-shaped cake candles and multicolored matchsticks. A custom, oversized door was installed for the specific purpose of fitting gigantic, 36-inch balloons. The ladies’ restroom features glitter in the grout. These specialized touches may seem over the top, but it’s all about the details at this Norfolk-based party boutique.

Several years ago, Kristin Lindsey had transitioned from planning weddings and other events to organizing corporate functions. After a while, she missed the creativity that goes into event planning. “So, I started throwing these ridiculously extravagant, Pinterest-esque parties for my kids’ birthday parties and our annual Christmas party,” she says. “As time went on, that wasn’t fulfilling my creative spirit anymore.” As the Pinterest and party scene began to explode, Lindsey wondered if there were others like her who wanted access to custom party supplies without having to order it from Etsy. “At the same time, I started noticing on my buddy’s social media that she was doing the same thing as she’d had her first child and was starting to get a lot craftier and throwing parties herself.” And so, the business of fun began.

Most of the items offered at Jollity are purchased from other small business shops across the country. “It’s kind of neat because we get to tell their stories as we’re meeting our customers and telling our story,” Lindsey says. “We want to support other businesses like us as we do business with our local community.”

Photo by Kathryn Whitworth

Jollity also offers specialized, handcrafted products. A laser machine allows the Jollity team to cut and burn designs to create custom cake toppers, drink stir sticks, banners, signs and more. They make their own confetti poppers that can be purchased on-site or custom designed to feature specific colors of confetti. “It makes us unique because it kind of makes us Etsy in person,” Lindsey explains. “Because we have all our equipment in the building and we don’t rent it from other places, we can make it for people in less than 48 hours, and it gives them the option to buy things at the last minute. Because let’s face it—nobody plans.”

In addition to the retail side, Jollity features a sophisticated and bright party room attached to the store that can be rented for business functions, dinner parties, birthday parties, bridal and baby showers and other events, accommodating as many as 50 guests. Tables and chairs come standard, and the space even has a full kitchen attached.

They’ve already expanded their business since opening with the acquisition of a vintage rental company, Mad Hatter Vintage Rentals. “It’s a nice complement to what we’re already doing,” Lindsey says.

In other ways, she’s still figuring out how to evolve the business, and much of that comes from listening to her customer base. “Some of the products that we sell a ton of were not the ones I expected when we opened the doors, so we’re still evolving in what we offer,” she says. “We’re always trying to change and develop and be better than what we were a month ago or a year ago.” She advises other small owners to do the same: “Don’t be rigid. Always be willing to listen to what your customers are saying and what the community around you is saying.”

Lindsey shares that a benefit of being a small business owner is the sense of community. “We really get to know our customers. We have their cell phone numbers. We text them when things come in. And they’ve really embraced us. They come in and say, ‘I’m never going to shop for a party at Target again.’”

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