'I'm so glad I chose a different path, this collection is my silver lining': Homeless teen celebrates launch of luxury handbag line
11:43 GMT, 19 June 2012
Entrepreneurial spirit: Hayley Miller pictured with a selection of her bags
Aged just 15 she was living in a homeless shelter among drug addicts and alcoholics.
But desperate to better her situation Hayley Miller set to work brainstorming potential money-making ideas.
And now four years on she is enjoying success as a handbag designer, and has created an eye-catching range of totes priced from 180.
Online boutique bagservant.co.uk, which represents luxury brands such as Chloe and Chanel, is set to stock her eponymous label and the entrepreneur is also pursuing deals with department stores Selfridges,Harvey Nichols and internet retailer ASOS.
While staying at the One Foot Forward hostel in Oxford as a teenager, instead of dabbling in recreational drugs Miss Miller spent her free time sketching designs and learning about the fashion industry.
Eventually she founded her own company last year at the age of 19 with the support of a local businessman who was impressed by her motivation and business acumen.
Hayley Miller Designs Ltd, aimed at 'stylish women' is set to launch nationwide with each bag
named after an important woman in Hayley's life – including her
'I’ve loved handbags for as
long as I can remember – from when my mum first gave me a little red
bag that I used to pretend to keep my make-up in.
'Being in my room for hours on end
gave me time to be creative and helped me escape reality. I’d spend
hours drawing handbag designs,' she told The Sun.
During her teenage years Miss Miller, who was brought up on a
housing estate on the outskirts of Oxford, describes her family life as 'intolerable', and by the age of 15 she found herself homeless.
After spending months staying with different friends and her grandmother she managed to get a place in the local hostel, which provides accommodation for homeless people aged 16 to
Despite a lack of stability Miss Miller got ten GCSEs and after leaving school she set to work creating an accessories range.
The 'Cassie' 184.99 (left) and the suede 'Janice' design 279.99 (right)
/06/19/article-2161470-13AE2F28000005DC-27_634x401.jpg” width=”634″ height=”401″ alt=”Eye for design: /06/19/article-2161470-13AEA154000005DC-621_634x396.jpg” width=”634″ height=”396″ alt=”Miss Miller has set up her own website to sell the leather designs which start at 180″ class=”blkBorder” />
Miss Miller has set up her own website to sell the leather designs which start at 180
The young designer, who has been offered a place at the London College of Fashion, added: 'This collection is so special to me because it has so many memories. The other day I saw a girl I knew from the hostel and I couldn’t believe how much she had changed.
'It really hit me hard that I too could have ended up the same way she had.
'I’m just so glad I chose a different path. I may have lived under a dark cloud for some time, but this collection is my silver lining.'
Phillippa Straw, who works at One Foot Forward and remembers Miss Miller from her time at the hostel, told the Oxford Times: 'We hope her story will inspire others to believe that anything is possible with a bit of hard work and determination.'
For more information go to hayley-miller.co.uk.