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The 30 year love story of Belles and Beaux


How one Newcastle boutique is helping brides find their perfect gown despite the challenges of COVID-19.

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Elizabeth Monie has dressed approximately 20,000 brides for their big day since she first opened her bridal boutique Belles and Beaux on Hunter Street more than 30 years ago.

Now a household name for brides in the Hunter region and beyond, Elizabeth stocks labels exclusive to the Newcastle area including Essense of Australia, Stella York, Martina Liana, Sorella Vita and Maggie Sottero.

“A bride recently flew down from Townsville just to view our gowns and make a purchase from us,” Elizabeth said.

“When you come in to Belles and Beaux to look for a wedding gown my staff are extremely helpful. We are patient and provide all different options and like our brides to enjoy the experience in our store. Each of my staff members give the best service and love looking after our brides.”

Owner of Belles and Beaux, Elizabeth Monie.

As well as experiencing major success over the years, Elizabeth has overcome many personal and business challenges along the way.

Only six months after opening in 1981, the business was set back when the Newcastle earthquake struck.

Several years later in 2006, Elizabeth began fell ill while travelling overseas. She returned home and was diagnosed with a rare type of leukaemia and underwent the trial of a new drug after given only six months to live.

“This was an extremely difficult time for my business. Initially I was in hospital for eight weeks and after that I spent 18 months going to the Mater Hospital five days a week for chemo treatment and the clinical trial,” Elizabeth explained.

“My family wanted me to sell the business but I resisted as I loved it and looking after the brides makes me extremely happy. During this two year period my business was run by my manageress, Michelle O’Connor, who did an amazing job and still works with me.”

After defying the odds, Elizabeth received another tragic diagnosis of breast cancer in 2016. Through all her treatment, she has managed to maintain a positive outlook and is still in remission today.

“I really feel that because I love my business and serving brides of the Hunter and beyond is the reason I have managed to stay positive and healthy.”

On top of everything, Elizabeth has also had to face the recent setbacks caused by COVID-19, which ground her business to a halt as restrictions brought the entire industry to its knees.

“The past three months have been really difficult for us due to the pandemic. We had to close our business down for five weeks which made it extremely stressful as the bills kept rolling in, but the JobKeeper payments were very helpful and took a lot of the pressure off.”

While restrictions are easing and business is picking back up again, Elizabeth still feels for brides that have had to change plans.

Belles and Beaux has been dressing brides for more than 30 years.

“Since re-opening our store on 15 May after being closed for five weeks, business has been excellent. We are getting lots of sales and we have had wonderful support from our customers who have been making payments off their gowns to help us with our cash flow,” Elizabeth said.

“It’s been a really stressful time for our brides who have had to rearrange their wedding plans and fight for refunds, but we’re doing what we can to give them the best experience possible and help them stay excited for their big day.”

With a background in finance as well as fashion, Elizabeth knows the importance of the operational side of business and has appreciated the advice and guidance provided by her business manager at Newcastle Permanent along the way.

“In my opinion the most important decision I have ever made in the running of my business was to transfer all my accounts to Newcastle Permanent in 2011,” Elizabeth said.

“I had been with one of the major banks since opening and the reason I decided to transfer was because of the fees I was being charged. I’ve calculated that in the nine years I’ve been with Newcastle Permanent, I’ve saved my business over $32,000 in bank fees.”

This article is intended to provide general information of an educational nature only. Information in this article is current as at the date of publication. We do not recommend any third party products or services and we are not liable in relation to them. Any links to third party websites are for your information only and we do not endorse their content.

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