Marissa Mills is used to people puzzling over what to call the Joyrolla cart. The Aussie label’s co-founder once ran a poll online and got 35 different name variations for her new shopping bag on wheels – an updated version of the design that thrifty nonnas and market-goers have loved for decades. At one point, Mills took to calling it “a grocery granny cart trolley thing”, which is oddly helpful given the other contenders. “Is it a granny cart? Is it a shopping cart? Is it a shopping trolley?” Mills asks, laughing. Whatever you call it, she reckons it’ll make shopping easier and more stylish.

Now based in Pottsville (northern New South Wales) with husband and business partner Alex, Mills first got a yen for shopper carts as a Sydneysider. “We were living in Glebe close to the shops,” she tells Broadsheet. “I’d always be hauling my stuff, trying to get home without breaking my arms and back, and I kept being a little bit jealous of all the nonnas rolling around.”

Then came two baby boys and, for a time, their pram carried the extra load. But once they could walk, Mills again found herself with nowhere to shove her stuff on the go. “I was like, ‘Oh my god, I hate carrying all my crap!’”

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So, the search for the “trolley thing” began. At first, Mills was just looking to buy one for herself. A granny cart that wasn’t so overt; that was durable and sustainable, easy to use and easy to clean. That could help you “shop locally, walk, maybe take the long way home, have a coffee and grab some more things on the way back”.

After research failed to produce a modern cart that fit the bill, she turned to a bunch of industrial designers for help. And after three years and seven prototypes – plus “a vintage cart that became kind of our muse” – Joyrolla is now finally ready to roll.

The new design comes in three parts – the frame, wheels and bag section – which will eventually be offered as single components so Joyrolla carts can be repaired and upgraded over long-term use.

The bag, made from 100 per cent recycled polyester canvas with a 100 per cent recycled nylon liner, is washable and water-resistant. There are plenty of pockets for phone, wallet, tablet and keys, plus a lid that’s strong enough to have items placed on it without buckling. The handle is higher and narrower than the classic version, “so you walk with it next to you instead of dragging it out the back”. And the wheels are robust enough to travel over gravel, grass and mud. (They’re quiet too, Mills says. “No rattling noises.”)

“Probably the biggest pain point, from a design perspective, was to get the bag to look nice. Like, always,” Mills explains. “We wanted it to look good, empty or full.” So the bag is made to keep its shape – flexible, but not floppy. She envisions the cart staying out on display, like a favourite piece of furniture. “It’s made to have in your home, not hidden in a cupboard or shoved under a bed. If it’s right there at your door, or somewhere pride of place, you’ll be more likely to use it.”

Joyrolla’s launch line offers carts in three block colourways – ochre, black and lilac – giving a small nod to the retro hues of granny carts past while suiting modern sensibilities. The label also produces reusable shopping bags, mesh produce bags and water bottles to help cut down on waste while you’re on the go.

As for Mills, she’s no longer jealous of those nonnas. “When I take my Joyrolla out, I feel a bit smug, to be honest,” she laughs. “I feel like I’ve got it sorted.”

Joyrolla carts are currently available for pre-order, with plans to start shipping early July.

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