In conversation with Donielle Brooke about fashion, business and jewellery

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Donielle’s Instagram

We caught up with Donielle Brooke, the co-founder of Designer Wardrobe to talk all things business, fashion and jewellery.

Hi Doni! DW has been your passion project that has grown into a beautiful business. What personal growth have you experienced during this journey?

I started DW when I was 25 so now almost 10 years later, I have grown a lot in this journey. Like any start up and life – there’s always ups and downs that are thrown your way, I use to find it hard dealing with the challenging times as I am a sensitive person so it felt like the hard times really hit me. On this journey I had to learn to manage that so when challenging times arose (like covid) I can manage them a lot better than before. I think a lot of founders are looked at with a lot of strength, because start ups are never easy! But I am different in this department. I have relevance to keep going forward but I had to learn my strength and I still am!

What personal qualities and values help you run DW?

I love working with a team of people that own what they do and do it well, I personally don’t try to do it all – I focus on what I can do and love up lifting those around me. I care about a lot and bring that into DW. Such as the environment, empowering others, fashion and all together it makes DW.

What advice (or tips) would you give to people looking to make more conscious shopping choices?

Id start by selling old clothing you don’t wear anymore to give them another life, invest in local, sustainable or second hand items that are classic and not one off wears. When it is a one off wear, rent!

What is something that you’d like to see more of in the fashion industry?

More togetherness for those who care about Sustainability. There’s room for all of us – let’s up-lift each other and work together for the greater good.

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DW has a strong circularity mission with fashion re-sales and purchasing pre-loved, can you tell us how the rental aspect of the business had come to life?

This is actually how DW started! At 25 I felt there was a huge gap in the NZ market for this, so I decided it was time to start it! I think it’s obvious a lot of others felt the same way! We introduced rental later in the DW journey.

What is something that you look for when buying new rental styles for DW?

I have a look for dresses that can be worn to events such as weddings, balls, race day, birthdays and then split into ages, we buy for the typical events most people go to yearly.

What positive insights (lessons) have come from running a business in a pandemic?

That you have to act fast, think outside the square and be open to pivoting – three things we had to do!

What is the most important aspect in working with people and building a team?

It’s important to look for people who have the same values so you can build a team of people who really relate and care about the same thing.

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Best advice you’ve ever received?

That not everyone is going to like what you are doing but if it’s from a good place you have to keep going forward.

Worst advice you’ve ever received?

That I should not care so much haha.

What does success mean and look like to you?

A happy, healthy, driven me!

What have you enjoyed most on your DW journey?

Working on this journey with such amazing people!! My beautiful Mum – has worked with us for years at DW same with my auntie and lots of lovely friends over the years too!

Where can we find you when you’re not running your business, how do you relax?

I am relaxing at my little sanctuary, my home sitting amongst trees, with my fiance Blair and two cute fluffy kitties!

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On jewellery:

Do you have any jewellery pieces that hold sentimental value or a special story?

Yes, I have a necklace my Grandma use to wear every day that’s a beautiful lovely with a photo of her and Grandad inside. I am really close with my Grandma and was also super close with my Grandad before he passed away so it means so much to me.

What is one piece of jewellery you never take off?

My engagement ring.

We’ve recently collaborated on creating a bespoke ring for you, what did you like most about the process/ring?

I really wanted something with a pop of colour and a unique shape. I love how you create bespoke jewellery ( with clients so I new you were the designer to create my new dreamy ring. The process was fun and seamless and I was even able to recycle some old gold to put into this ring. I couldn’t be happier with the beautiful unique outcome that came about by picking stones that felt were “me” and seeing how they came together.

Follow Donielle Brooke on Instagram here.