How Donielle turned a cancer diagnosis into a booming second-hand clothes business.

Anyone who has spent time and money curating the perfect designer-filled wardrobe can only imagine how painful it would be to sell it off.

But that’s exactly what Donielle Brooke was forced to do when she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer at just 25 years old.

The New Zealander didn’t have much of a choice – she was out of work and had bills to pay. So letting go of 80 per cent of her wardrobe to make some quick cash was her only option.

Little did she know it would lead to a booming business that in four years has gone from a Facebook page to a marketplace where more than 90,000 members buy and sell their second-hand clothing.

“I created Designer Wardrobe four years ago because I had just been diagnosed with thyroid cancer and had bills to pay,” Donielle told the Daily Mail.

“I was going to be off work for a while and had a wardrobe full of designer clothing.”

This was late 2012 and there weren’t any other websites that would allow her to sell her clothing the way she wanted, so she created a Facebook page and invited her friends and family.


The page was open to anyone who wanted to buy and sell clothes grew to 1000 members in just a few weeks and 15,000 six months later.

At this point she enlisted the help of her friend Aidan Bartlett, who is now the CEO, to turn the Facebook page into a website.

“It wasn’t an easy transition but we were all ready for it, we had so many listings every day and it was hard to keep up. It needed a proper marketplace for the community to jump onto,” Donielle said.

It proved to be a popular move with her followers, who made the website crash went it first went live.

Listen: We’re obsessed with this Instagram account that shows fierce, fab, man-repelling outfits.

Since then it’s grown to more than 90,000 members buying, selling and renting more than 30,000 listings of clothing from brands like Sass and Bide, Zimmermann, One Teaspoon and Keepsake.

Donielle, who has been in remission for three years, launched Designer Brands in Australia earlier this year.

The 29-year-old said one of her goals was to make recycling clothes more appealing and has managed to recycle more than 36 tonnes of clothing in New Zealand in 2016.

“The core at the back of my mind was recycling. Women only wear 20 per cent of their clothing,” she said.

Do you like to shop for second-hand clothes?