I grew up in South Melbourne. I was an only child and was raised by my nan. She was an aged care worker. My nan was awesome. She was totally old school in her values – hard worker, good provider, created a family environment. I’m strong, like her. My childhood was good with her. I only have good memories.

I’ve always liked make-up. We didn’t really wear make-up when we were young, not like teenagers now. When I was 19, I started practising and just improved. I liked putting glitter on – I still do. It’s my favourite.

I finished VCE and I was interested in doing social work, just helping people.

I’ve got three kids. Their father and I tried to make it work for about 11 years. I had to move from Melbourne because of domestic violence, so we were housed in the country to escape that situation. I liked living in the country, things were much calmer there. My youngest was about seven at the time. I wasn’t able to work – it’s tough being a single mum.

My husband David and I met on a dating site. He asked to meet up and chat, and we connected straight away. We’ve been together for six years and married for coming up to five years.

We decided to move together to Melbourne. We were homeless for a bit, living in and out of motel rooms and wherever we could stay. That was a rough time for my kids, too. They’re troopers – they’re pretty strong.

We finally got housing in a flat in the northern suburbs. My eldest kid is 20 and my youngest is 16 now. We all live together. We have six cats. We’re animal people! We had two cats originally and then they had kittens. My kids didn’t want to let them go because they’re too cute.

David had started selling The Big Issue when he was homeless quite a while ago. So then I joined up. I thought it was great straight away. It’s great for underprivileged people to be able to get back out there and make a little bit of spare cash – and to be able to meet new people, too. I’ve been selling for about four years now.

My favourite thing about selling The Big Issue is just meeting people. The human kindness. Being able to work whenever you can, the flexibility. The money helps with food and contributes to accommodation, especially if you’re sleeping in motel rooms – it’s costly. Economically, things are hard on everyone right now.

I sell in Moonee Ponds. There are so many nice people there. My favourite customers are the elderly ones, but I also love the ones who come up just to say hello. I get lots of compliments about my glitter make-up when I’m on my pitch.

I just want to say thank you to the customers for being so warm, welcoming and accepting. Thanks for supporting The Big Issue.

Kylie sells the Big Issue on Puckle St, Moonee Ponds, Melbourne

Interview by Sinéad Stubbins
Photo by James Braund

Published in ed#693