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.
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).
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.