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Aussie Lingerie & Sex Toy Boutique is taking its high-end adultwares to Beverly Hills

Beverly Hills, Ca – from www.smh.com.au – WHAT began as a humble corner shop has become an American dream come true for two Brisbane businesswomen.

High-end adultware outlet Honey Birdette is set to open in California later this year as part of a plan to develop the business’s national and international footprint.

Founders Eloise Monaghan and Janelle Barboza have signed the lease on a location in Los Angeles and are set to take their brand of erotica and lingerie to the US market in October.

Sited two blocks from the high-profile Rodeo Drive shopping district, the launch of the store in Beverly Hills will fulfil the pair’s long-held ambition to take Brisbane-born sex appeal to the world.

Ms Monaghan, who launched Honey Birdette with Miss Barboza in 2005, said she was surprised by the scale of untapped potential in the US but was looking forward to filling the gap between commercial lingerie retailers and hardcore erotica vendors.

”The US market is similar to Australia’s in that it currently spans from commercial lingerie brands such as Victoria’s Secret to the much more extreme end of the spectrum,” she said.

”Unlike European cities that feature sex toys in department stores and are a lot more risque in general, there’s nothing that really capitalises on the middle ground. So there was a real space for us and our brand of high-end bedroom wear that was provocative and sensual but not extremely so.”

The pair met while working in Britain in the medical field, Ms Monaghan for an insurance agency handling crisis communication and Miss Barboza in cancer research.

Both had studied at university in Brisbane but they didn’t cross paths until their jobs brought them together and they found common ground in a love of the sensual lingerie sold in high-end London boutiques.

It wasn’t until Ms Monaghan, whose mother ran lingerie shops during her childhood, had returned to Australia and went shopping for a friend’s hen’s night that the idea for Honey Birdette began to germinate.

”I couldn’t believe how behind the Australian adult industry was in terms of what was on offer for women,” she said. ”The whole Sex and the City phenomenon had broken, ‘the Rabbit’ was part of the vernacular and yet in Australia everything seemed pretty stuck in the ’70s.

”It was very much still brown-paper-bag, back-door-entry and department-store lingerie.”

Ms Monaghan caught up with Miss Barboza, by then working in oncology at the Princess Alexandra Hospital, and the pair began filing orders and looking for their first location.

Beginning with a short-term lease on a site at the corner of Boundary and Vulture streets in West End, the duo realised they were on to something when their range of designer lingerie and luxury adult products began attracting positive feedback from shoppers.

The former corporate career women then took sex to the city, opening their city centre store in MacArthur Central and launching a website featuring erotic fiction podcasts and international shipping information, before expanding to the Barracks on Petrie Terrace with the opening of their flagship store in 2009.

Work has now begun on a Honey Birdette house lingerie label to be stocked alongside the designer French labels that dominate their shelves.

Strong demand from American online shoppers partly contributed to the decision to set up shop in LA.

In fact, the store manager of Honey Birdette Beverly Hills is a persistent customer who lobbied long and hard for an LA location. ”We get a lot of interest from our shoppers and are approached often about opening new locations,” Ms Monaghan said.

”But we’re determined not to get ahead of ourselves.

”We’ve always been about offering customers a personalised, unique shopping experience and we’d hate to tarnish that aspect of the brand by becoming a massive chain.”

However, Ms Monaghan confirmed that there was still room for the business to expand on Australian shores.

Brisbane’s third Honey Birdette boutique opened at Westfield Group’s newly renovated Chermside shopping mall late last week.

”By late 2010 we plan to have five shops nationally and may see ourselves nestled beside the likes of Louis Vuitton and other high-end retailers,” Ms Monaghan said.

The second step was signing off on a new lease in the heart of Sydney’s Pitt Street shopping district, which Ms Monaghan said was planned to be open in late October.

”And after Sydney, we’ll be looking to Melbourne,” she said.

”It’s very exciting and I can’t believe it’s happening.

”But then again, I never imagined I’d be working in a shop selling lingerie and sex toys.”

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