One on One with Joy Bijou

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“Everything I learned in high school, summer internships, and in college, contributed to the career I now have.” 

~~ Joy ~~

ELLEN GELLER KAMARAS

Please meet Joy Bijou, a talented community event planner and creative designer.  Over five years ago, I did my first Woman to Woman interview with her husband Freddy’s grandmother, Gloria Bijou.  Gloria, a nurse, community leader, and one of the founders of Sephardic Bikur Holim, has been a friend and role model for me ever since. 

What a treat to meet Joy.  I’ve always been in awe of event planners, especially those who can soothe and support brides, hatans, and parents, and make their visions a reality. 

Joy Mamiye Bijou is the daughter of Marlene and Hymie Mamiye.  Joy feels blessed to have been born into her family and grateful for the love, Jewish values, and actions her parents modeled.  

Her parents are of Syrian descent and were born in the U.S.  Marlene is Executive Director of the Sephardic Heritage Museum and Hymie is a partner of Mamiye Brothers, well-known apparel manufacturers. Joy, a Brooklyn girl, is the middle child and has two older sisters and a younger brother and sister. “My mother set the tone in the family, encouraging us to find something we love and to go for it.  All my siblings have a unique job.  Shirley is a nurse practitioner, Ruthie is a stylist, Michael is a real estate entrepreneur, and Marielle is attending NYU.”

School Days 

Joy attended Magen David Yeshivah elementary school and Yeshiva of Flatbush High School.  She needed a lot of help to get though her tests and homework in grade school.  “Somehow things changed, and I carried a 90 average throughout high school.” 

She and her mother still haven’t figured out how Joy became an honor student.  After all, high school is more demanding than elementary school.  Joy says she was born on November 30th and was always one of the youngest in her grade.  Her grades started to improve in middle division, and in high school, she taught herself tricks that helped her to succeed. 

Joy was active in extracurricular activities in high school and joined the volleyball and soccer teams.  She also created a fashion blog. Although she was not a fan of fashion, she had a desire to pursue her entrepreneurial spirit and to explore and share something with others. Joy had a strong yearning to earn her own money.   

“My personality is still the same.  I have my quiet moments and super outgoing ones. Gratefully, I had many friends in elementary and high school, most of whom I am still friends with today.”  

College and Career Choices 

The summer after high school, Joy secured an internship with Teen Vogue.  She worked from 7:30 in the morning until 8pm at night. 

Joy continued her education at the Fashion Institute of Technology.   

She opted for the Fashion Merchandising track and earned her bachelor’s degree.  Her choice was more about the merchandising classes and skills versus fashion.  During college, she interned at a jewelry business, Lee Angel, in SOHO. 

Joy’s Turning Point  

The pivotal moment in Joy’s life was when she attended the New York Gift Show with her mom when she was 18 years old.  From there, Joy formed her own company called IPersonalize, selling personalized party goods (custom placemats, menus, and more) for events from a showroom in her parents’ home.   

When Joy was 21, she and her bestie, Susan Harari, a chef, threw a birthday celebration with 100 guests for their friend Bobbi.  The party was in Bobbi’s Deal, NJ backyard. Joy planned the décor and logistics and Susan did the cooking. The event was a big success! The two friends decided to go into business together and do smaller events where Joy would plan, and Susan would cater.  Herbs and Hydrangeas was launched, and the two friends collaborated on many dinner parties and affairs in private homes. 

After a few years, Joy and Susan agreed to amicably split H &H, as Joy’s dream was to work on larger weddings. That’s how Hydrangeas & Co. became Joy’s company and Susan went on to cater under the name Herbs. 

Speaking of weddings and semahot, Joy met her naseeb, Freddy Bijou, at her bat mitzvah party in Deal.  They are the same age, and got married at 23 years of age. They live in Brooklyn with their two-year old daughter Denice and 8-week-old Marlene. Freddy, a real estate broker, is super supportive of Joy’s business. “Freddy takes over when I leave the house for an evening or a Sunday wedding. For a Sunday wedding, I am gone by seven am and don’t return until one am.  My parents are wonderful and store all my huge boxes of kippot, napkins, and other accessories. My family is there for me in every way, from watching my children, to storing boxes, to talking things out with me.”

Ingredients for Success 

Interestingly, Joy says her creativity spark kicked in when she started to work after high school.   Everything she learned at FIT, including Microsoft Office Excel, public speaking, and advertising, all contribute to her success as an event planner.  “FIT was amazing!  All the classes I took gave me the skills I needed to run a business and to put together proposals for clients.  My father helped me crunch the numbers with Excel.  Even doing my fashion blog in high school helped me later when I built my own Hydrangeas & Co. website.  Whatever I did in high school and college helped me at some point.” 

 

Joy describes herself as calm and organized.  She is also a self-starter and was certainly brave to open a business at the age of eighteen. The longing to have her own money and her own business demonstrates how driven Joy was.   

She is passionate about her family and children and is on fire when she is planning and running an exciting event.  Her proudest accomplishments are building a family with Freddy, raising their daughters, and her career. 

Joy’s Business Model  

When Joy first went out on her own, she was racing around constantly, living and breathing event planning.  With experience, she learned to work slower and smarter.  Now that she has two little ones, Joy focuses her energies on the bigger events. 

She has developed her own unique approach and business model, doing events the way that works for her and brings her joy.  She treats each event as if it were her own and really gets to know her clients and their families.  After a client calls, Joy meets with them or speaks to them several times to ensure they both are in alignment. She will only send a new client a proposal after ensuring that she can partner with them and make their vison come true.  

Some clients have a mental picture of the event they are striving for while others have no idea.  For example, if a client wants a particular setting, Joy will ask her to share some pictures of what she would like. 

In the beginning, Joy tries to ascertain who will be driving the wedding plans or celebration, the bride, the groom, or the parents.   

Joy will also create a digital mood board with her client to set the design, décor, and setting for the event. 

From September through June, most of Joy’s design projects (weddings, engagements, showers, dinners, bar/bat mitzvot, brit milot) are in Brooklyn and Manhattan.  In the summer, the semahot are primarily in Deal.  Word of mouth has landed Joy affairs in the Pierre Hotel, the Liberty Warehouse, the National Bohemian Hall, and many more great venues. Joy can also transform a yeshiva gym or other social hall into a garden or beach or whatever the client’s dream is.  Click on Joy’s stunning posts on www.instagram.com/hydrangeasandco/. 

Staying calm and finding solutions to hurdles is her secret to success. 

Community  

Joy loves her community and admits she couldn’t have her career and business without the awesome support of the community.  For as long as she can remember, her mother has been dedicated to community organizations.  When her schedule permits, Joy will help plan and coordinate a community charity event free of charge. 

To unplug from work, Joy walks, nourishes herself with self-care, and meets friends for dinner.  She enjoys shopping for new decorative pieces for her home and filling her vases with flowers. 

Her advice for aspiring event planners? 

It’s a never-ending learning process.  “My first two years were my education and training ground and I still learn something new with each event. Fake it till you make it!” 

Connect with Joy on Instagram or email her at hydrangeasandco@gmail.com.

Ellen Geller Kamaras, CPA/MBA, is an International Coach Federation (ICF) Associate Certified Coach.  Her coaching specialties include life, career, and dating coaching.  Ellen is active in her community and is currently the Vice-President of Congregation Bnai Avraham in Brooklyn Heights.  She can be contacted at ellen@lifecoachellen.com (www.lifecoachellen.com).