President's Message

Proud to be a Novocastrian

April was an extra special event for members and guests who joined us on the stunning Autumn day. We were lucky to secure four local entrepreneurs to share their very individual business experiences.

The panel included Timberlina – Timber Productions, Belinda Bartholomew – BOÉ wines & ScrunchieO, Justin Hales – Camplify and Anna Farthing – Doughheads.

First up Timberlina informed us of her country upbringing and transition to the ‘big city’ where she worked in a number of jobs before being introduced to the life of Drag and being paid to perform. Soon, she was presenting and performing all over Newcastle and slowly let go of her full-time job.

Timberlina runs her own production company Timber Productions, manages a number of other performers and even scored a major sponsorship with Absolute Vodka. Admitting she was one of the lucky ones through Covid, her business grew and through this, now expanding her management to help entertainers in the queer community all over the East Coast of Australia.

Promoting diversity and acceptance is what drives Timberlina to continue to say yes to the many, many events she hosts all over the state.

Timberlina then took over as MC, introducing Belinda Bartholomew, a newer local who fell in love with our city when she arrived in 2017 following her Newcastle Knights footballer husband.

Belinda was a new mum when she found a gap in the market and started ScrunchieO. Suffering from postpartum hair loss, it was recommended she use a scrunchie to tie back her hair but this was before the accessory was ‘cool’ again and she struggled to find something not suited for kids. After having her own manufactured and seeing their popularity with her friends, Belinda started ScrunchieO with immediate success, selling out in no time.

It was 2018 when Belinda started her next venture BOÉ wines. Belinda and her friend Zoë noticed that there was a lack of Australian owned and grown Rosé currently on the market. They combined their love and knowledge of wine to create this Australian Rosé.

Both ScrunchieO and BOÉ wines have had huge success as purely online businesses. Belinda encouraged other businesses to use social media and make their product or business as ‘instagramable’ as possible.

Next up for Belinda is to firmly establish herself in Newcastle particularly focusing on making BOÉ wines our signature drink through events, collaborations and stocking at more local venues.

Next up was Justin Hales who has been busy! Camplify was founded when Justin saw how expensive RV or Caravan hire was, yet so many sat parked on the street for months at a time. Once the idea was formed, Justin followed a clear business growth model and literally hustled out front of the local Caravan show to kick start the brand. Camplify has seen over 110% growth year on year and operates in the UK, NZ and Spain. This is all despite some investors not convinced a Newcastle based business could achieve so much.

It has not all been smooth Caravaning though, with Covid wiping out all their business overnight. Justin worked hard with his team to keep everyone employed and focused on supporting van owners who also suddenly lost what had become regular income.

With the local travel industry back up and running (mostly), Camplify is operating successfully once again. The focus now is on continuing to support their clients, whether it be through helping new owners design vans suitable to renting or coming up with flexible booking systems to work with the unpredictable nature of travel, Justin is determined to solve any issues along the way.

Last, but definitely not least, Anna Farthing from Doughheads won over the crowd immediately with her delicious mini doughnut favours for every attendee.

Anna has definitely seen the highs and lows of business. Starting with a converted laundry to commercial kitchen at home, four children and an idea, Anna saw Doughheads initially as a side hustle market stall. Before long, the lines at her stalls grew longer and Anna negotiated a month-to-month space in the Newcastle Mall where she still did not see herself as a ‘real business’.

Doughheads popularity continued to grow and with advice, Anna added pop up stalls all over the Hunter. On the surface, things were booming but the underlying cost of business caught up and Anna almost had to shut up shop.

It was a clear passion for bringing joy through her business and pure determination that kept Anna going. By scaling back and hard work, she was able to again create a profitable business. 2020 then through its own challenges but Anna stayed focused on how to continue to reach her loyal clients through lock down and is still successfully operating from the well-known store at The Junction.

The future for Anna and Doughheads is now firmly focused on building stability before growth.

Hearing from such a variety of local business people was inspiring and the feeling of Pride for Newcastle was discussed many times. Thank you again to our panel and those that were able to join us.

We would not be able to host such events without our regular supporters – Newcastle Herald, oOh! Media, and Hunter Headline. Thank you!

Thank you also for their donations of lucky door prizes Newcastle Office Interiors, Wrapped to you, Hunter Headline and oOh! Media.

With Mother’s Day coming up, the Matthews Jewellers $100 voucher was very popular. Thank you, Matthews Jewellers, for your continued support. Vouchers are drawn at each luncheon and can be won by anyone who is a member and attending the lunch. You can become a member HERE.

Event photos are now live on our Facebook Page thanks to Martin Sully. Please visit Snapper Studio to check out his work. If you had your photo taken at the lunch, check out our Facebook page over the next few days to see if you feature in the album.

May Luncheon

Our next luncheon will be held on Tuesday 18th May and will be a big one!

We are lucky enough to have secured Gus Balbontin – Former Executive Director and CTO of Lonely Planet thanks to sponsor Monica Clare Recruitment.

If you are like me, I had not heard of Gus before Past President, Clare Ferguson had him locked in to speak in 2020. But due to lock down, we are lucky enough to be finally bringing him to Newcastle and I am privileged to present such an exciting speaker.

Gus is an investor, entrepreneur, founder and explorer who has spent two decades helping businesses adjust strategies, products, services, culture and individuals to better deal with rapid and regular changing markets.

Gus will delve deep into the digital transformation of the past two decades, sharing stories of how so many companies mishandled this shift and how today’s business leaders can capitalise on the disruption that’s still occurring today.

Please make note, we will be relocating to McDonald Jones Stadium for the event in order to cater for the extra popularity.

Tickets are on sale and available here.


2021 Newcastle Business Club membership will give you:

  • Discounted ticket prices
  • Permanent and stored name badge
  • VIP invitation to a FREE members only event
  • Access to a Business Profile spot
  • Free copy of our annually printed VISION
  • First access to sponsorship of events

We encourage you to not only take advantage of these great benefits but to also support the Newcastle Business Club in its 88th year. CLICK HERE to renew your membership or to become a member for the first time.

Stephanie Jordan | 2021 President