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Designer Wardrobe's Donielle Brooke talks creativity and bricks-and-mortar retail

  • News
  • November 24, 2017
  • Idealog Team
Designer Wardrobe's Donielle Brooke talks creativity and bricks-and-mortar retail

Donielle Brooke was one of the People's Choice winners in the retail category in Idealog and Accenture's Most Creative People. Brooke founded Designer Wardrobe, an online marketplace where users list, sell, rent or look for designer items on Facebook, in 2013, as a way to pay rent after being diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Now it’s surpassed 100,000 members, crowd-funded $1.7 million in the space of a few days, and opened a bricks and mortar store.

The store opened at 31 Boston Rd, Grafton, today. It boasts marble surfaces and velvet curtains, with Samsung tablets in-store to allow customers to purchase their rental item; browse extra listings on the website and even create an account.

“Opening a store has been a long term dream for us,” says Brooke. “With the natural growth and success of the website, we saw the need emerge from our Designer Wardrobe members for a physical
store to complement the pre-existing online experience.”

She also chatted with Idealog about the meaning of creativity.

What​ ​does​ ​creativity​ ​mean​ ​to​ ​you? 
 
For​ ​me,​ ​being​ ​creative​ ​is​ ​having​ ​the​ ​ability​ ​and​ ​freedom​ ​to​ ​dream​ ​up​ ​ideas​ ​and​ ​then​ ​turn​ ​it​ ​into​ ​reality!​ ​It takes​ ​passion​ ​and​ ​drive​ ​to​ ​execute​ ​your​ ​ideas,​ ​but​ ​it’s​ ​definitely​ ​worth​ ​it. 
 
What​ ​do​ ​you​ ​think​ ​it​ ​is​ ​about​ ​your​ ​nature/habits/interests​ ​that​ ​makes​ ​you​ ​creative? 
My​ ​whole​ ​DNA​ ​is​ ​as​ ​a​ ​creative​ ​-​ ​I​ ​have​ ​dyslexia​ ​and​ ​so​ ​I​ ​like​ ​think​ ​I​ ​see​ ​things​ ​in​ ​a​ ​special​ ​light.​ ​I​ ​have​ ​only ever​ ​picked​ ​the​ ​creative​ ​road​ ​in​ ​life​ ​(and​ ​always​ ​will). 
 
What​ ​was​ ​your​ ​upbringing​ ​like,​ ​and​ ​how​ ​do​ ​you​ ​think​ ​that​ ​led​ ​you​ ​to​ ​where​ ​you​ ​are​ ​today? 
 
My​ ​mum​ ​and​ ​dad​ ​raised​ ​me​ ​by​ ​educating​ ​me​ ​that​ ​even​ ​though​ ​my​ ​intelligence​ ​is​ ​not​ ​considered​ ​the​ ​“norm“ It​ ​is​ ​just​ ​as​ ​strong​ ​in​ ​a​ ​different​ ​way,​ ​and​ ​that​ ​I​ ​can​ ​achieve​ ​what​ ​I​ ​want​ ​if​ ​I​ ​tap​ ​into​ ​my​ ​creativity​ ​and​ ​have the​ ​​ ​hunger​ ​to​ ​work​ ​hard​ ​to​ ​get​ ​where​ ​I​ ​want​ ​to​ ​go. 
 
Where​ ​do​ ​your​ ​best​ ​ideas​ ​come​ ​from? 
 
I​ ​am​ ​a​ ​dreamer​ ​-​ ​I​ ​dream​ ​up​ ​ideas​ ​and​ ​often​ ​wish​ ​I​ ​could​ ​have​ ​all​ ​the​ ​time​ ​in​ ​the​ ​world​ ​to​ ​create​ ​them.​ ​My ideas​ ​come​ ​from​ ​within​ ​-​ ​unplanned​ ​or​ ​unexpected.​ ​So,​ ​I​ ​could​ ​be​ ​walking​ ​along​ ​the​ ​beach​ ​or​ ​at​ ​my​ ​desk when​ ​something​ ​comes​ ​to​ ​mind.
 
What​ ​does​ ​inspiration​ ​look​ ​like​ ​for​ ​you? 
 
To​ ​be​ ​inspired​ ​I​ ​need​ ​space​ ​in​ ​my​ ​morning​ ​routine​ ​to​ ​tune​ ​into​ ​my​ ​thoughts,​ ​and​ ​have​ ​time​ ​in​ ​the​ ​evening to​ ​rest,​ ​recoup​ ​and​ ​reflect​ ​in​ ​order​ ​to​ ​inspired​ ​for​ ​the​ ​next​ ​day! 
 
Is​ ​there​ ​an​ ​ethos/motto​ ​you​ ​abide​ ​by​ ​in​ ​your​ ​work? 
For​ ​me​ ​that​ ​would​ ​be​ ​“Making​ ​shit​ ​happen”.
My​ ​whole​ ​DNA​ ​is​ ​as​ ​a​ ​creative​ ​-​ ​I​ ​have​ ​dyslexia​ ​and​ ​so​ ​I​ ​like​ ​think​ ​I​ ​see​ ​things​ ​in​ ​a​ ​special​ ​light.​ ​I​ ​have​ ​only ever​ ​picked​ ​the​ ​creative​ ​road​ ​in​ ​life​ ​(and​ ​always​ ​will). 
If​ ​there​ ​were​ ​a​ ​secret​ ​to​ ​success,​ ​what​ ​would​ ​it​ ​be? 
 
Firstly,​ ​I​ ​think​ ​what’s​ ​important​ ​is​ ​to​ ​find​ ​out​ ​what​ ​success​ ​means​ ​to​ ​you​ ​in​ ​particular.​ ​To​ ​achieve​ ​it​ ​-​ ​believe in​ ​your​ ​own​ ​strengths​ ​and​ ​keep​ ​a​ ​laser​ ​focus​ ​on​ ​the​ ​positives​ ​you​ ​have​ ​and​ ​work​ ​hard​ ​to​ ​get​ ​where​ ​you want.​ ​Make​ ​sure​ ​you​ ​never​ ​spend​ ​your​ ​time​ ​comparing​ ​yourself​ ​to​ ​others,​ ​or​ ​what​ ​their​ ​success​ ​might​ ​be​ ​to them. 
 
What​ ​were​ ​some​ ​of​ ​the​ ​challenges​ ​that​ ​you​ ​faced​ ​early​ ​on? 
 
When​ ​DW​ ​became​ ​a​ ​startup​ ​and​ ​entered​ ​the​ ​“startup​ ​world”​ ​-​ ​I​ ​definitely​ ​found​ ​having​ ​dyslexia​ ​challenging because​ ​it​ ​affected​ ​my​ ​confidence​ ​and​ ​how​ ​I​ ​thought​ ​people​ ​may​ ​view​ ​me.​ ​So,​ ​I​ ​decided​ ​to​ ​let​ ​my​ ​actions speak​ ​louder​ ​than​ ​words.


 
What’s​ ​the​ ​secret​ ​to​ ​resilience? 
 
Over​ ​the​ ​years,​ ​I​ ​have​ ​become​ ​more​ ​resilient​ ​than​ ​ever!. ​I​ ​think​ ​the​ ​secret​ ​has​ ​been​ ​having​ ​confidence​ ​in what​ ​I​ ​stand​ ​for​ ​and​ ​it’s​ ​been​ ​so​ ​great​ ​having​ ​so​ ​many​ ​people​ ​who​ ​support​ ​what​ ​Designer​ ​Wardrobe​ ​is​ ​all about. 
 
What​ ​have​ ​been​ ​some​ ​of​ ​the​ ​highlights​ ​of​ ​your​ ​career? 

Having​ ​the​ ​most​ ​amazing​ ​directors​ ​on​ ​our​ ​board​ ​in​ ​Designer​ ​Wardrobe. ​Simon​ ​Moutter​ ​(general​ ​manager of​ ​Spark)​ ​and​ ​Shane​ ​Bradley​ ​(the​ ​startup​ ​king!)​ ​has​ ​been​ ​a​ ​huge​ ​highlight.​ ​Each​ ​person​ ​we​ ​have​ ​had​ ​who has​ ​joined​ ​the​ ​DW​ ​journey​ ​has​ ​also​ ​been​ ​such​ ​a​ ​great​ ​asset. It​ ​was​ ​amazing​ ​in​ ​our​ ​third​ ​round​ ​of​ ​investment​ ​to​ ​be​ ​able​ ​to​ ​give​ ​other​ ​members​ ​of​ ​DW​ ​the​ ​chance​ ​to​ ​take part​ ​and​ ​have​ ​a​ ​slice​ ​of​ ​our​ ​company.​ ​Also,​ ​reaching​ ​100,000​ ​members​ ​on​ ​DW​ ​is​ ​an​ ​incredible achievement​ ​to​ ​Aidan​ ​(my​ ​business​ ​partner)​ ​and​ ​I. 

What​ ​do​ ​you​ ​think​ ​New​ ​Zealand​ ​is​ ​like​ ​for​ ​creativity?​ ​Is​ ​there​ ​something​ ​about​ ​‘Kiwiness’​ ​that​ ​helps or​ ​hinders? 

I​ ​think​ ​us​ ​Kiwi​ ​creatives​ ​are​ ​shining​ ​at​ ​the​ ​moment!​ ​We​ ​are​ ​in​ ​a​ ​new​ ​time​ ​and​ ​age​ ​and​ ​we​ ​have​ ​so​ ​much potential​ ​and​ ​resource​ ​to​ ​start​ ​innovating.​ ​You​ ​can​ ​go​ ​far​ ​without​ ​the​ ​traditional​ ​learning​ ​approach,​ ​and New​ ​Zealanders​ ​really​ ​support​ ​and​ ​helps​ ​one​ ​another​ ​in​ ​that​ ​journey. 



What​ ​would​ ​be​ ​the​ ​advice​ ​you’d​ ​give​ ​someone​ ​who​ ​wants​ ​to​ ​turn​ ​their​ ​creative​ ​passion​ ​into​ ​a full-time​ ​gig? 

Once​ ​you’ve​ ​identified​ ​that​ ​you’re​ ​ready​ ​-– ​just​ ​get​ ​started​ ​one​ ​small​ ​step​ ​at​ ​a​ ​time!​ ​Don’t​ ​be​ ​afraid​ ​to​ ​make mistakes,​ ​the​ ​important​ ​part​ ​is​ ​beginning.​ ​My​ ​advice​ ​would​ ​be​ ​to​ ​work​ ​out​ ​where​ ​you​ ​need​ ​help,​ ​and​ ​go from​ ​there.​ ​You​ ​may​ ​find​ ​getting​ ​a​ ​business​ ​mentor​ ​a​ ​great​ ​way​ ​to​ ​get​ ​going. 

What​ ​have​ ​been​ ​the​ ​biggest​ ​lessons​ ​you’ve​ ​learned? 

I​ ​have​ ​learnt​ ​the​ ​more​ ​you​ ​are​ ​challenged​ ​or​ ​faced​ ​with,​ ​the​ ​stronger​ ​you​ ​will​ ​be.

Where​ ​to​ ​next?​ ​Do​ ​you​ ​have​ ​a​ ​goal​ ​you’re​ ​working​ ​towards? 

We​ ​are​ ​about​ ​to​ ​release​ ​our​ ​new​ ​platform​ ​on​ ​both​ ​web​ ​and​ ​mobile​ ​– ​and​ ​our​ ​concept​ ​store​ ​that​ ​will​ ​be​ ​the biggest​ ​highlight​ ​yet​ ​– ​as​ ​it’s​ ​been​ ​the​ ​hardest​ ​and​ ​most​ ​amazing​ ​thing​ ​our​ ​team​ ​has​ ​ever​ ​worked​ ​on. ​I know​ ​our​ ​members​ ​will​ ​love​ ​it​ ​so​ ​I​ ​am​ ​so​ ​excited​ ​to​ ​make​ ​my​ ​vision​ ​for​ ​DW​ ​come​ ​to​ ​life.

This story originally appeared on Idealog. It contains additional reporting by The Register.

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  • May 25, 2018
  • Elly Strang
Bonnie Brown’s Blooming ‘Brella: Winner of the Blunt + Idealog + Generator umbrella experiment

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  • May 25, 2018
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