A PASSION FOR FASHION
Josephine Bourke loves fashion and amongst family and friends she is the ‘go to’ person for fashion advice. On Saturday February 13th, she will be officially opening her new store in Thornleigh which is appropriately named Josephine’s Emporium.
It will specialise in women’s clothes and accessories, costume jewellery and collectibles.
But, the opening of a retail space is hardly new. The real story of the Emporium is in the background tale of her family which forms part of historical foundation of the local community.
Josephine’s family has been in the Thornleigh/ Normanhurst/Pennant Hills area since before the early 1920’s.
The family have had a presence in Thornleigh for more than 80 years. Her mother, Mary Brown, was considered someone of ‘high profile’ in the area. Their family, the Baynie’s, owned an estate which, aside from some street names, is now all but forgotten. Most of the land was on either side of Pennant Hills Road, where McDonalds and Bunnings now stand. In fact on the opposite side of Pennant Hills Road is where the family built a factory for dressmaking with various clothing materials sourced and produced.
The factory itself, was designed to allow women an outlet for creativity, but its primary source of workers were migrants, predominantly Lebanese, which reflected the family’s heritage. Mary Brown welcomed them with open arms to the area, providing them with employment and building a community. The current significant Lebanese community in the area can trace its roots back to this time.
The new Emporium will not just be retail space. Josephine and her current family hopes it will reignite the same sense of community that existed back when her mother and grandmother were operating the factory. Back then everyone knew each other. The Emporium is designed as a meeting place, especially for women, as much as a retail space.
The new family business will be operated as not for profit with any surplus funds being directed to charities such as the Congregation of the Good Samaritan Sisters in Kiribati.
The new store is located at 8C Station Street Thornleigh, across from Aldi.
Josephine Bourke in her new emporium in Thornleigh Photo: Anthony Brewster