When Hayley Miller was 15, homeless and living among alcoholics and drug addicts, she vowed to stay away from vices and find solace in the one activity that brought her joy –- sketching designs.
Miller left home and moved into a hostel for homeless young people when her parents told her they wanted her to quit school and get a job, U.K.'s The Sun reports. Though the teen hated living in a hole-ridden hostel, with cocaine and heroin users, she at least found space to perfect her bag designs in her room.
“It was very scary,” Miller told The Oxford Times. “The staff were lovely but every single one of them would say: ‘Hayley you are well-spoken and well-presented -- you should not be here’.”
After two years –- and far too many police raids on the hostel –- the budding designer moved in with her grandmother and began to formulate a serious business plan. She took accounting courses, found a Chinese manufacturer and started working about 90 hours a week to make her dream of launching a bag line a reality, according to The Sun.
The now-20-year-old eventually found an investor to back her product, allowing for Hayley Miller Designs Ltd. to be born, according to The Oxford Times.
Miller's first collection, slated to launch later this month, has already nabbed the attention of such high-end department stores as Selfridges and Bag Servant, an online shopping site that boasts luxury bag designs from Chloé and Chanel.
While Miller is about to see her dreams come true, she won’t leave behind those who are battling the struggles she once faced. She has already donated a bag to a charity auction that is raising awareness and funds for autism, according to The Oxford Times. She is also making sure to do what she can to care for those with whom she lived in the youth hostel.
“We all looked after each other and I will never just pass one of them on the street,” Miller told the news outlet. “It is hard for me seeing someone I lived with in the hostel on the street.”
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