Former Big Issue seller now heads up multi-million pound fashion firm

Undated handout photo issued by the Big Issue of former Big Issue

Former Big Issue vendor Philip Waltham now runs his own multi-million pound sustainable fashion firm, and says his time selling the magazine helped him start his business - Credit: PA Media

A former Big Issue vendor turned sustainable fashion guru says his time selling the magazine helped him start his multi-million pound business.

Philip Waltham sold the magazine for three years in Clerkenwell and Hampstead after fleeing his Hull home as a teenager struggling with drug addiction.

The 44-year-old, whose firm Bulk Vintage Wholesale now boast an annual turnover of £9million, said: “The Big Issue helped me put money in my back pocket and feed myself.

“They taught me how to respect myself. They taught me how to budget my money and how important a roof was.

“I had to have money to buy Big Issues so I could sell Big Issues and that taught me how to budget.

“The thing that has saved my life is selling second-hand clothes and I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for The Big Issue.”

After his three years as a vendor, Philip opened a market stall in Camden, and now oversees two high street stores in Newcastle and York.

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The Vintage Store is soon set to open two more branches in Liverpool and Manchester.

Philip added: “We fight fast fashion. We save clothing from landfills, we go to big factories and take clothing. Last year we saved around 600 tonnes of clothing and then repurposed them to sell on.”

Big Issue founder Lord John Bird said: “Our vendors sell The Big Issue to earn a legitimate income which not only provides them with money to get back on their feet but also helps them develop the key life and business skills they need to thrive.

“They are then supported by our frontline teams, who are always on hand to help, with anything from accessing key services such as healthcare to simply being there to give advice when needed.

“Philip’s story is brilliantly inspiring and a great example of the transformative effect the Big Issue can have on people’s lives.”

The magazine is sold by the homeless, long-term unemployed, and those who need money to avoid getting into debt, Big Issue says.

Vendors are given five free magazines which are then sold to the public for £3, with fresh copies bought for £1.50.