Growing up, Donielle Brooke wasn’t sure what she had to offer the world. Being dyslexic, the Aucklander always felt out of place and sometimes struggled at high school.
Her interest in fashion and beauty led Donielle to train as a hairdresser. But two years ago, her life and career were turned upside down when, during a routine mole check, a specialist noticed a lump on her neck, which turned out to be an aggressive, fast-spreading thyroid cancer.
“I was told that a couple more weeks and it would have been a totally different story,” the 28-year-old remembers. The next year involved surgery to remove her thyroid and the cancer cells that had spread to her lymph nodes, as well as radioactive iodine therapy, which left her bedridden.
While the treatment was successful, the experience was traumatic for Donielle. She tells, “I still think about it every day. It’s a constant battle in my mind, but I’m also very conscious that not everyone is as lucky as I am.”
It was during her recovery that she started a Facebook group called Designer Wardrobe, a place where Kiwi girls could sell and buy high-quality clothing. Donielle explains, “I’d always wanted someone to start a website that sold amazing second-hand clothes and I kept waiting, thinking surely someone would do it, but nobody did.”
Designer Wardrobe took off and before long, it wasn’t just Donielle and her extended friendship group swapping their designer threads – it was also their 40,000 new friends!
“It was an amazing distraction and it gave me a purpose,” she smiles. “It made me feel good to think I was helping girls find a special dress for their ball or their 21st and not have to spend a fortune.”
Last year, after a short-lived return to hairdressing, Donielle decided the group had outgrown Facebook. Together with her ex-boyfriend Aiden Bartlett, 27, she established a website, designerwardrobe.co.nz, and took part in a three-month business boot camp.
The pair now both work full-time on the website – which has 50,000 members and will soon launch in Australia – and have recently debuted a new app.
“If someone had told me two years ago, while I was fighting cancer, that my dream would come true like this, I’m not sure if I would have believed them!” laughs Donielle. “It’s my passion and it’s amazing to think I’m setting an example for other girls out there who doubt themselves. You really can do anything when you put your heart and soul into it.”
- RoyalsInside a play date with Prince George and Princess Charlotte at Kensington Palace
Now To LoveYesterday 3:40pm
- PetsThe online pet product delivery service that just made your life easier
Now To LoveYesterday 2:00pm
- RoyalsIs this a clue that Duchess Meghan is relaunching her lifestyle blog The Tig?
Now To LoveYesterday 11:15am
- CareerFrom Shortland Street to water births: Katherine McRae's new focus
New Zealand Woman's WeeklyYesterday 9:09am
- RoyalsNew book details the lives of the photographers who captured the royals behind closed doors
New Zealand Woman's WeeklyYesterday 9:00am
- FamilyNadene Lomu's tearful confession: Pushed to breaking point after Jonah's death
Woman's DayYesterday 7:45am
- EntertainmentWoman's Day Bonds X-Temp hottest media hunk has been crowned
Woman's DaySep 16, 2019
- TVThe top five moments from Celebrity Treasure Island this week
Now To LoveSep 15, 2019
- CareerHelen Mirren on why being old is 'cool' and marriage is great
The Australian Women's WeeklySep 15, 2019