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Before It Began

Fashion // Art // Studio

Property Donor: The GPT Group

Launched: 1 Apr 2010

Closed: 16 Mar 2011


Upstairs, 14 Thorn St Newcastle


UPDATE OCT 2012 In April 2011 Before It Began signed a commercial lease at a new location on Darby Street (for details see this news item). Early in 2012 Before It Began closed its doors as Jzhonnie & Grace pursue other interests.


Before It Began is a Fashion/Art/Studio run by Jzhonnie Bezhet Holloway, Bonnie Grace Dwyer and Rhea Newton-Brooke – three women in their early 20’s, with a variety of talents from fashion, art and photography.

Before it Began will carry only local designers and artists, as well as altered vintage clothing and accessories.

“At Before It Began we are offering young local designers and artists a chance to reach the community with their work. The store will be stocked with our own label plus clothing from young, up-and-coming Newcastle designers, as well as vintage and altered clothing.”

Together the three have a collaborative vintage label *Junkie Collective * that has been established for over a year. Before now it has been sold at markets from Newcastle to Sydney. The label focuses on restyling vintage clothing with eclectic fabrics and found objects to create new and unique clothes and accessories. Each item of clothing is carefully chosen and re-invented to give it modern edge.

Each month Before It Began will have a featured artist, including an exhibition and wall space dedicated to that artist.

The space makes for a perfect art/fashion gallery with high ceilings and glass walls letting in ample natural light. The space has been painted white, a blank canvas for the art and fashion that will take centre stage in this shop.

The store has been renovated and stocked with the lowest environmental impact, with a strong focus on recycling and sustainability. The cyclic nature of trends merits the use of pre-owned garments and fabric.

You can see the designers at work in the shop, where they have set up small studio spaces – in themselves adding to the shopfront installations. A quarter of the shop is dedicated to workshop space. With reams of fabric, piles of clothing hidden beneath the desks and each day one or more of the girls perched behind absorbed in another conception.

Visit instore to put your name on their mailing list, to hear about new stock, events, and featured artists.

Artist Bios

Bonnie-Grace Dwyer makes for the Junkie Collective label, but her main passion is for photography. With a large portfolio of works behind her and a well established photography blog – her work will be permanently exhibited in Before it Began.

Bonnie has been surrounded by creative people and art from a young age: her mother is a painter and her father a photographer so it was almost inevitable she follow their footsteps. Bonnie has valuable work experience in the gallery field, coming from Coffs Harbour where she worked at an art gallery for a year or so. Bonnie has 6 years experience in customer service and not only has an ease with people but is enthusiastic about this project having a positive effect on the community – “not only providing a retail space but an ‘opportunities’ space.”

Jzhonnie Holloway is a key element in the collaborative vintage label Junkie Collective but also has her own label Jzhonnie Bechet, which features street wear, swimwear and evening wear created from re-cycled denim, leather and other assorted materials. Her label has been in action for around a year, starting around a few months before it was displayed in Newcastle Fashion Week 2009. Since then she has been selling in Bondi and Glebe markets Sydney.

Jzhonnie like the other two girls moved here later on in life, but has submerged herself into the arts and fashion scene in Newcastle, starting out with modelling and film studies then moving into fashion design. After 7 years experience in customer service and 4 of them being retail, Jzhonnie sees this venture as something “not just providing a service but providing a chance for others.”

Rhea Newton-Brooke has always been involved in the arts and participated in various local events, as well as events in the Blue Mountains and Byron (she moved to Newcastle from Byron two and a half years ago). Rhea was awed and inspired by the Newcastle art scene and eager to immerse herself.

Fashion and conserving the environment are her twin obsessions so when the Junkie Collective was in fledgling stage she joined, seeing an opportunity to combine both her passions. She has recently created a label of her own to vent creative energy called Tipsy Orchestra, a celebration of flamboyant women’s clothing in rich colours. Rhea’s 7 years in customer service also reflect her devotion to people and her desire to facilitate the community.