Kayleigh Dunne went from living rough on the streets of Southampton to photo shoots

Kayleigh Dunne - photo by Dikki Hurst

Kayleigh Dunne - photo by Dikki Hurst

First published in News
Last updated
Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Feature Writer

WHEN she was still a teenager, Kayleigh Dunne became homeless.

She would often wander the streets all night if she hadn’t been able to find a safe place to sleep, falling asleep in the daytime.

She is proud to say she never begged and even managed to support herself with a cleaning job.

“I would drop my rucksack off in the morning at this place that supported homeless people then go and clean these huge houses in Winchester all day,” says the 26-year-old.

Eventually, at 18, she managed to get a place in a hostel in Winchester and it was while she was there that she entered a Miss England competition.

She didn’t reach the final, but it gave Kayleigh a taste for modelling, and a different lifestyle. Her life began to change direction.

Having her hair and make-up done and getting dressed up for a glamorous photo shoot stood in stark contrast to the everyday reality of her world. For a few hours she was experiencing a different lifestyle and creating a lasting image of this ideal version of herself.

She fell in love with being in front of the camera and became one of a growing number of people who sign up to websites offering their services as unpaid models, in exchange for photos for portfolios, the glamour, fun, escapism and the chance to be a model.

Kayleigh found that she was in demand – her picture has been in magazines, on advertising posters and flyers, in catalogues, on poker chips, playing cards, on fashion websites.

Most of her work is as a rockabilly or pin-up model, often sporting a retro look, evoking 1940s and 1950s sophistication and style, but with a modern edge – Kayleigh has several tattoos and often shows them off in photo shoots.

She has also diversified into performing with fire, and has previously taken to the stage as a burlesque dancer.

As well as an impressive cuttings folder, Kayleigh has also gained herself a fanbase – there are more than 1,000 followers of her fan page on Facebook. Her admirers often send her gifts and there is a section of her website to direct them to some items she has her eye on.

But despite her success, modelling is still a hobby rather than a job for Kayleigh and there is a contrast between her glamorous image and her day-to-day life, as an unemployed single mother to a two-year-old.

“I just do it for fun, because I enjoy it,” she says of her modelling.

“Some of the photo shoots I’ve done to get photos for my portfolio, others for the exposure.”

Kayleigh is now diversifying with a new project that aims to help other women feel more gorgeous and also to give her a regular income stream.

Daily Echo:

Photo by Jerry Griffin

She is in the process of setting up her own toiletries and cosmetics business, creating everything from body scrubs to nail varnish.

She is a huge fan of learning, constantly taking adult education courses, and her new venture will take advantage of some of her qualifications, including a recent diploma in biochemistry. She is also a qualified make-up artist and has studied everything from teaching English as a foreign language to making toiletries!

“I am like a jumping bean, always pushing myself to do a million things at a million miles an hour and there’s no one to slow me down,” she laughs.

“I wanted to create a range of cosmetics that didn’t make women feel like they have to look any better than they do without make-up. I just want to add a touch of sparkle to their beauty routine, that is natural, animal friendly and oozes glamour – the kind of glamour that gives us that spring in our step when we walk down the street, because we don’t just look beautiful but we feel beautiful too.

“I want to help make other women feel good about themselves and glamorous in a healthy way. I am very creative and have lots of interests so this is a way to bring some of those interests together,” she adds.

Kayleigh’s life has moved on since her days of rough sleeping, but it has left her feeling grateful for her opportunities in life and for what she has and with passion and energy to succeed.

“To me, life is about learning,” she says.

“I like to cram in as many things as I can. I feel so appreciative of everything I have in my life.”

Comments (11)

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6:42am Tue 28 Jan 14

KA says...

Well done you... and best of luck for the future:D
Well done you... and best of luck for the future:D KA
  • Score: 30

7:31am Tue 28 Jan 14

skeptik says...

Always admire folk who reach the top or strive to reach the top against the tide- sadly today we are dominated by those who have reached the top with daddies money rather that ability.
Always admire folk who reach the top or strive to reach the top against the tide- sadly today we are dominated by those who have reached the top with daddies money rather that ability. skeptik
  • Score: 24

7:32am Tue 28 Jan 14

sotongirlie says...

Shame about the tattoos.
Shame about the tattoos. sotongirlie
  • Score: -9

9:22am Tue 28 Jan 14

elvisimo says...

sotongirlie wrote:
Shame about the tattoos.
send us a selfie.
[quote][p][bold]sotongirlie[/bold] wrote: Shame about the tattoos.[/p][/quote]send us a selfie. elvisimo
  • Score: 2

9:59am Tue 28 Jan 14

ToastyTea says...

I remember giving her a ciggie and a sip of my Stella when I saw her on the streets one day, I like to think that helped her on her way.
I remember giving her a ciggie and a sip of my Stella when I saw her on the streets one day, I like to think that helped her on her way. ToastyTea
  • Score: -6

11:01am Tue 28 Jan 14

Beer Monster says...

Fairplay to the girl :0)
Fairplay to the girl :0) Beer Monster
  • Score: 10

12:31pm Tue 28 Jan 14

Lilybert says...

sotongirlie wrote:
Shame about the tattoos.
Its amazing how someone could read such as inspirational story and come out with such a narrow minded response. After all she earned the money for those tattoos and I personally think she looks beautiful tattoos and all.
[quote][p][bold]sotongirlie[/bold] wrote: Shame about the tattoos.[/p][/quote]Its amazing how someone could read such as inspirational story and come out with such a narrow minded response. After all she earned the money for those tattoos and I personally think she looks beautiful tattoos and all. Lilybert
  • Score: 12

1:45pm Tue 28 Jan 14

999medic says...

gave her a sip of your stella and a ciggy. interesting how you think you help help on her way, just how do you come with such a stupid response toasty, oh yes its becuase of the amount of stella youve drunk and the waccy backy you rolled into those cigarettes youve smoked

Good on you girl you look amazing very sexy with the tats to
gave her a sip of your stella and a ciggy. interesting how you think you help help on her way, just how do you come with such a stupid response toasty, oh yes its becuase of the amount of stella youve drunk and the waccy backy you rolled into those cigarettes youve smoked Good on you girl you look amazing very sexy with the tats to 999medic
  • Score: 2

5:06pm Tue 28 Jan 14

hmw says...

Can't be doing with tattooed girls myself, it would be like being in bed with a sailor. So I'm sorry, Kayleigh, but it just wasn't meant to be. Move on
Can't be doing with tattooed girls myself, it would be like being in bed with a sailor. So I'm sorry, Kayleigh, but it just wasn't meant to be. Move on hmw
  • Score: -2

5:48pm Tue 28 Jan 14

saints63 says...

what a load of crock notice the real life stories not been told ?
what a load of crock notice the real life stories not been told ? saints63
  • Score: -2

5:58pm Tue 28 Jan 14

saints63 says...

Lilybert wrote:
sotongirlie wrote:
Shame about the tattoos.
Its amazing how someone could read such as inspirational story and come out with such a narrow minded response. After all she earned the money for those tattoos and I personally think she looks beautiful tattoos and all.
dont get sucked in by this story lilybert :)
[quote][p][bold]Lilybert[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]sotongirlie[/bold] wrote: Shame about the tattoos.[/p][/quote]Its amazing how someone could read such as inspirational story and come out with such a narrow minded response. After all she earned the money for those tattoos and I personally think she looks beautiful tattoos and all.[/p][/quote]dont get sucked in by this story lilybert :) saints63
  • Score: -4

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