Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting OXFORD NEWS to 80360 or email us
Former homeless girl starts own business
JUST a few years ago Hayley Miller was living in an Oxford homeless shelter among drug addicts and alcoholics.
But she put her time to good use by designing a range of luxury handbags.
And the hard work has paid off as Miss Miller is now in talks with Selfridges about selling her £180 designs.
She founded her company last year at the age of 19, despite leaving home at 15 and living in hostels for several periods while her parents split up.
Miss Miller came up with her designs as a teenager while living at the One Foot Forward hostel in Iffley Road.
And now Hayley Miller Designs Ltd is set to launch with each bag named after an important woman in the designer’s life – including her grandmother Janice.
Miss Miller said: “I’m mainly self-taught. I did attend Oxford & Cherwell Valley College, but I had to leave early due to things going on at home.
“I had to move out and live in a hostel and get back up on my feet.
“It was very scary. I lived with a lot of people who had alcohol or drug habits, but I didn’t judge these people for what they did but for who they were, and they accepted me.
“In the hostel a lot of them didn’t have anything to do and I taught them how to draw and we made jewellery together – even some of the lads got involved.
“We all looked after each other and I will never just pass one of them on the street.
“It’s hard for me seeing someone I lived with in the hostel on the street.”
The designer, who is now 20, is ready to conquer the fashion world through an online boutique which represents brands such as Chloe and Chanel.
Miss Miller, who grew up in Barton, but now lives in Risinghurst, said more than 15 bags had already been snapped up without any advertising or promotion since they were made available online at the end of May.
She has helped get her firm up and running thanks to the support of a local businessman she met at a networking event.
The former Cheney School pupil said: “I was quite confident as I had planned the pitch for so long and I knew what I wanted.
“I’ve now got a factory based in China that I’m working with and I’ve even learnt some Chinese.”
Phillippa Straw, who works at One Foot Forward and remembers Miss Miller from her time at the hostel, said: “We hope her story will inspire others to believe that anything is possible with a bit of hard work and determination.”
Miss Miller will launch her range in Oxford on Thursday, June 28, with a charity fundraiser at the First Floor Restaurant in Cowley Road.
Comments are closed on this article.