22/12/2016
Starting with HIGH END.

Words by

Eliza Sholly

You would be hard-pressed to find someone on social media that isn’t familiar with the concept of a Facebook buy/sell group.

Not only do they provide another avenue to make a lil’ cash off your unwanted purchases, they also encourage communities of sustainable shoppers.

Behind these groups, however, is a team of people that volunteer hours of their own time each day, to ensure the smooth operation of their platforms. For the HIGH END Facebook group, that team is one person. Brooke Marks. 

Brooke dedicates four to five hours per day to keep her Facebook group running, with zero financial reward.

She also purchases a Net-A-Porter gift card each year, to award to one of the 40,000+ HIGH END members, as a way of giving back to her community. 

We suspected Brooke might be either clinically insane (or a saint), so had chat to her about why she gives up so much of her valuable time for a seemingly thankless task.

From the outside, being an admin seems to be pretty unrewarding. You’re forever dealing with other people’s issues and complaints. Is it as thankless as it seems?

It can be quite thankless at times, but at the same time, many members are appreciative and that makes my job worthwhile. I enjoy working with luxury goods and it’s more of a passion project than anything else.

Is there some hidden benefit for Facebook group admins that no one tells us about?             

The group has been an incredible opportunity for me to meet new friends and has brought job offers to me directly, that would not have been possible without this platform. I didn’t start out wanting to get anything back, I just wanted to sell a pair of Balenciaga heels and thought it would be a good idea!

How much time do you dedicate to admin-ing per day?

Between four to five hours per day.

That seems like a lot of time. What’s your day job?

I work part time in the consignment industry.

Do you ever feel like being an admin has hindered other aspects of your life?

The group is a tool I use for work, so it has actually improved my performance and given me another platform to sell luxury goods.

Where do you admin?

My phone is by my side constantly.

What’s the biggest challenge that comes with being a group admin?

Expected to be online 24/7.

And the best part?

The support that comes from our wonderful members. It’s a great feeling knowing I’ve helped many recycle their luxury items.

What’s your relationship like with group members?

Great! Everyone gets along quiet well and I think introducing the discussion group has given a separate space for members to chat and get to know each other better, including myself.

I feel as though running a HIGH END group would see a lot of issues revolving around the authenticity of items and brands. How do you approach this: monitor authenticity to prevent dodgy dealings or handling these issues as they arise?

I work with luxury goods, so I prefer to monitor authenticity as items are uploaded, as I’m familiar with some authenticating processes. I am not trained in all brands, so I have a few other members who notify and flag suspicious posts as they arise.

When dealing with secondhand designer it is often difficult to monitor. We often find a member who has uploaded a counterfeit item has originally purchased secondhand elsewhere and was unaware of its origins. 

Have you ever had an instance where the police have had to be involved?

We have procedures set in place to protect members, so that police do not need to be involved if a situation were to come to that.  A third party payment service (PayPal) is recommended when paying for goods, so that if a situation were to arise with an unhappy buyer they are able to dispute through PayPal directly and avoid contacting admin or police. We recommend members use acorn.gov.au to report members to authorities in rare cases.

Have you ever had a brand/business/authority say what you’re doing is wrong?

Never. If anything, many designers, bloggers and businesses are a part of the group, and enjoy using it themselves in their private time.

Are there any other ethical concerns?

By purchasing secondhand items, it gives sustainability to that item and reduces the impact that the garment has on our environment. I believe our group has recycled tens of thousands of items, which is really exciting for us.

Any plans to turn HIGH END into a business?

Perhaps one day, but at the moment I’m very content running the group as is, and providing a safe community to buy and sell for our members.

You recently ran a giveaway for any HIGH END members who read the group guidelines, awarding a $300 Net-A-Porter gift card. Are the guidelines considered the bible to you? How often are they broken?

We have guidelines set in place to protect both the buyer and seller; they’re an important component of a group. If there are no rules, it is a chaotic place (mostly for myself). It is important for them to be followed to keep the group running smoothly and we thought it would be a fun way to get members involved.

Who pays for the $300 gift card? Was that your own money? 

It is something I like to gift to the community every year. It’s my way of showing that I appreciate our members and it’s something I really enjoy doing. This year we thought it would be a great idea to brush up on the guidelines in the process.  

Anything else to add?

We’re going to be capping members off at 50K indefinitely. Join while you still can before it’s too late or miss out on those Hermès slides forever!!!!

For more of this, you should also check out 'The unwritten rules of the Facebook buy/sell group'.

Illustration by Twylamae who also makes art prints.

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