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Before It Began takes on Darby St

29 April 2011 | Posted in: News

BeforeitBegan_darbyst_renewnewcastle_photobyerinnicolejohnson

New digs: Jzhonnie Bechet Holloway and Bonnie-Grace Dwyer at Before It Began on Darby St. Photos by: Erin Nicole Johnson

Congratulations to Jzhonnie Holloway and Bonnie-Grace Dwyer who have taken their Renew Newcastle initiative Before It Began to the next level and secured a commercial lease on a shop in Darby St.

After testing their ideas over 11 months in 3 temporary Renew Newcastle locations, Before It Began ceased at the Thorn St location mid-March, and last week the energetic pair opened doors in a crisp white new location behind Darby Raj on Darby St, Cooks Hill.

Renew Newcastle asked Erin Nicole Johnson to meet up with the girls and get a sneak preview of the new boutique ahead of the Official Opening Night party on Friday 6 May 2011.


This new location will help increase their focus for emerging Australian artists and designers, as well as a revamping of their vintage collection (most featured in the store is Australian-made). It includes pieces, “that can’t just be found in an op-shop,” says Bonnie.

BeforeitBegan_darbyst_renewnewcastle_photobyerinnicolejohnson_fashion The garments, ranging in eras from the 1960s to 1990s are in impeccable condition, and very distinctive of the era in which they are from.

“We wanted to go with designers who stand on their own style with a fashion brand,” Bonnie adds, of the choice of designers they carry the lines of in the store.

BeforeitBegan_darbyst_renewnewcastle_photobyerinnicolejohnson_emergingdesigners “We really wanted to include people who are passionate,” Jzhonnie says. “It creates a movement in the store. The people we work with and carry the lines of are pushing themselves.” Many of the pieces are beautiful one-off, hand-sewn garments.

BeforeitBegan_darbyst_renewnewcastle_photobyerinnicolejohnson_jewellery However, not just a store, the location will continue to host monthly events and evolve as they evolve artists. “We want the space to exist as something we’d feel proud to have our art in,” says Jzhonnie. “Before it Began is a breeding ground for inspiration to grow.”

Jzhonnie says that Renew Newcastle gave them a unique break, allowing them to try stocking a combination of their own designs as well as the additional artistic outlets that exist within the space. “Renew Newcastle really gave us an opportunity to open the shop and carry our own line of designs as well as the styles of the emerging Australian designers that we believed in.”

The opening party for Before it Began’s new location is on Friday 6 May and will feature Bonnie’s first solo photography exhibition titled Girls, Girls, Girls. The series of new portraits focuses on girls that have an aura of mystique surrounding them.

Jzhonnie describes the work as a distinctive study of women. “They have a whimsical feel. They’re raw, gentle pictures of girls that seem to be not quite in our realm—as if the girls are not affected by everything we’re affected by today.”

An artist in her own right, Before It Began also features Jzhonnie’s designs from her clothing labels Junkie Collective and Jzhonnie Bechet. Most of the designs feature recycled and reinterpreted denim. “Denim takes on the life of the owner,” says Jzhonnie. “From the wash, to the colours, you can tell what’s happened to the owner and what kind of person wore those jeans. By taking the second-hand jeans, and creating something new with it, I can give it back to the community and [the fabric] can have a new life with someone else.”

Before It Began new store is located at Shop 5, 113-125 Darby St, Newcastle.

M: 0401 961 102

For more details of opening night see the facebook event page

Keep in touch with Before It Began events, exhibitions and new stock – like them on facebook


Before It Began started in April 2010 in collaboration with fellow designer Rhea Newton-Brooke. The trio are now following different dreams – stay tuned for more on Rhea’s new studio and boutique Tipsy Orchestra, which opens on Thursday 5 May at 14 Thorn St.