Former Big Issue seller now runs multi-million pound fashion firm

A former Big Issue salesman who now runs his multimillion-dollar sustainable fashion company talked about how time spent selling the magazine helped him start his own business.

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

The 44-year-old, whose company Bulk Vintage Wholesale now sells over £ 9 million a year, said: “The Big Issue has helped me put money in my pocket and feed myself.

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

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

After his three years as a Big Issue salesman, Philip opened a market stall in Camden, London, and now oversees two High Street stores in Newcastle and York.

The Vintage Store will open two more branches, in Liverpool and Manchester.

Philip added: “Let’s fight fast fashion. Let’s save clothes from landfills, go to big factories and get clothes. Last year we saved about 600 tons of clothes and then reused them for resale. “

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

“They are therefore supported by our frontline teams, who are always on hand to help, 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 Problem can have on people’s lives.”

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

Vendors receive five free magazines which are then sold to the public for £ 3, with new copies purchased for £ 1.50.

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