Kiani Mills, 35, has revealed how she fought her way out of poverty
A single mum-of-two has revealed how she clawed her way out of a life of poverty and ditched the ‘toxic’, drug-dealing father of her children to build a multi-million dollar conveyancing company.
Kiani Mills, 35, was born and bred in Frankston, a working class suburb in Melbourne’s south-east. She told FEMAIL she couldn’t wait to ‘get out’ of the area and had her eye on a glamorous life in the city.
Her plan for a new beginning started with a $1,600 cheque from her grandmother, a passion for law and a $100 printer.
Today she has owns a thriving conveyancing firm, has stakes in a law firm and part ownership of an advocacy group.
But as a teenager Kiani was trapped in a cycle of despair which began the night she was drugged and raped at a party when she was 14.
In the years which followed she was stalked, bullied, harassed, made to feel worthless and was often ‘completely penniless’.
By age 16, Kiani was failing all of her classes except legal studies and had moved out of home to live with her boyfriend.
She was focused on working to make rent and saw school as a social pastime rather than a serious space for learning.
The mum-of-two realised she was the only person she could rely on to build a good life for her children Koby and Summer
She will be forever grateful for her grandmother who gave her $1600 to kickstart her new life – by getting a conveyancing certificate
Kiani then suffered a devastating miscarriage which was a ‘harrowing’ thing to go through at age 16 after falling pregnant to her high school sweetheart.
‘These things all made me who I am today, and gave me skills to negotiate with people from all walks of life, but they weren’t easy,’ she said.
The traumatic experiences failed to distract Kiani from her dream – she wanted to work in the city and had her heart set on finding a career in law.
But given her academic record the youngster knew she couldn’t go about it the traditional way – university wasn’t an option.
So at 18 she landed herself a trainee job at a city law firm – where she earned just $14,000 a year but gained valuable experience in the business.
‘I was so poor I lived on the cheap sausage rolls from 7/11 because it was all I could afford. But I didn’t mind, I spent my lunch breaks walking through the city, I was out of Frankston,’ she said.
In the evenings she had to return to the outer suburbs – where her life continued to fall apart.
By age 22 Kiani was falling in love again, but the relationship took a turn when the young paralegal discovered her new boyfriend was actually a drug dealer.
He was arrested in front of her, charged and went to jail.
They got back together when he got out on parole and within months Kiani, then 23, was pregnant.
Kiani pushed through adversity silently doing what she could to achieve qualifications she needed to build a life for herself
As a young woman Kiani liked to socialise – in fact she went to school just to make friends and failed almost all of her classes
Her business KLM conveyancing quickly grew from a workspace on her dining table to offices across Melbourne
She picked up extra jobs in hospitality to make ends meet as she was supporting her unemployed partner – her job as a paralegal was teaching her valuable skills but wasn’t enough to finance her growing family.
He would regularly steal my ATM card and disappear for days, partying and gambling, leaving me heavily pregnant with no car, no money and unable to get to work.
Some 15 months after having her first baby Koby, Kiani gave birth to her second child, Summer.
When she went back to work three months later, at the end of the paid maternity leave period, she was informed she no longer had a job.
‘It would have been too easy to throw my hands up and say this is all to hard. To fall into bad patterns. Or to follow my then partner’s patterns,’ she said.
But Kiani was ‘born with pure determination’. So at 25 she made the life-changing decision to back herself.
‘I knew I had to provide for my family financially and I knew that it had to be flexible,’ she said.
She had the skills to be a conveyancer but needed the $1,600 certificate to be able to set up shop on her own – and knew she couldn’t scrap together the cash.
The mum decided to lean on her background in law and chase her dreams, this meant leaving the partner who was father to her kids, and work double time to make ends meet
She revealed her very social life and experience in hospitality helped develop relationships with future clients
‘Every dollar I earned was gone. I was living beyond my means and constantly negotiating my bills. I wouldn’t have even been able to scrape up half,’ she said.
So she asked her nanna for help.
It was the hardest phone call I have ever had to make, I am not good at asking for help, and called her choked up with tears.
‘I explained I needed the money for the licence and she was so sweet, she said she would rather I have it now than once she is gone,’ she said.
‘She offered me more but I said no, I knew the licence was my ticket.’
Kiani threw herself into completing her conveyancing certificate full time and was able to tick off most of the requirements because of her time at the city law firm.
Before long she had the practicing certificate. She bought a $100 printer and set up shop under the name KLM Conveyancing at home.
‘I will never forget my first customers, they were an older couple and we sat at my kitchen table together. I printed off their paperwork on the letterhead I had designed myself on word and watched as they signed on the dotted line,’ she said.
‘It was a euphoric moment for me but it was also very scary because I was desperate for it to work out.’
For years she suffered ‘mummy guilt’ for all the time her kids were on after school care while she worked to keep food on the table and build her business
Kiani says times were dark – as she worked out how to provide for her children alone
Her years moonlighting in hospitality and days spent socialising through school proved useful after that.
‘People I knew from school had become real estate agents and took a chance, sending clients to me,’ she said.
‘I had also managed to network at the bars I worked at – and people were keen to give me a go.’
Before long Kiani’s phone was ringing non-stop and she had a steady stream of clients through her front door.
‘It was amazing that people were happy with me, my friendliness as a person first and even more incredible when news of my work ethic spread and customers sent their friends and continued to come back,’ she said.
Within six months the mother-of-two was ‘on top of the bills’ and starting to dig her way out of poverty.
‘It was a dark time and I wouldn’t wish that kind of stress on anyone,’ she said.
‘But when you are in it you don’t know any different’.
But now she can work flexible hours which means she can spend time with them whenever they want
The conveyancer is also pursuing her love for law – by opening her own firm Entourage Law
• In grade 8, at age 14, Kiani had her drink spiked and was raped at a party
• She left the family home at 16 to live with her boyfriend, working a part-time job at Big W to pay the rent
• At 16 she suffered a miscarriage
• After leaving school to pursue a career in law, Kiani landed a job as a Legal Trainee earning $14,000/year. She commuted every day from Frankston, eating sausage rolls from 7/11 on the train, as that was all she could afford.
• At 22, she met the man who would become the father of her children, later discovering he was a drug dealer who would be arrested in front of her and serve time in prison.
• At 23, Kiani discovered she was pregnant with her first child Koby. At this time, she was working full-time as a Paralegal and supporting her unemployed boyfriend who was now on parole.
• While her career was skyrocketing, her personal life was imploding. Kiani discovered she was pregnant again with her daughter Summer, who was later diagnosed with ADHD and autism.
• She returned to work only to be informed she no longer had a job.
• Kiani asked for a $1600 loan from her grandmother to pay for her conveyancing license, bought a $100 printer and started KLM Conveyancing from home, where her clients signed documents on her kitchen bench.
• KLM Conveyancing transitioned into Imperiale in 2022, with ‘Imperiale’ being the feminine translation of the word ‘empire’. Not only is Kiani building her own but also helping others, through the property, to build theirs.
• At age 33, Kiani Mills is now a serial entrepreneur, speaker and a leading figure in the property industry in Australia.
She also ditched her on-again-off-again partner for good – after deciding her family was better off without him.
‘I have been a single mum officially since my son was three but I had been supporting us since long before that and their father often disappeared for long periods of time,’ she said.
Kiani worked long hours and suffered from ‘working mum guilt’ as she arranged for her children to go into after school care.
Her business continued to flourish and her home office became a shared space in the city which became branches across Melbourne.
She is once again working from home, after closing her branches when Covid hit, but this time she has state-of-the art gear and a team of nine dedicated professionals working across Victoria and Queensland.
In 2022 she changed her business name from KLM Conveyancing to ‘Imperiale’ after the feminine translation of the word ‘empire.
‘I felt I had grown so much since starting the business, and matured, and I wanted the new name to reflect that,’ she said.
‘In many ways the woman I was then no longer exists,’ she added.
The hard work has paid off in many ways – she now has a thriving personal life as well as a successful professional life.
Her children have also expressed their gratitude for her efforts – which has gone a long way to ease her mum guilt.
Summer, is ten and Koby is 12 and they are both thriving.
‘My daughter has even started her own little business selling crystals because she sees how hard mum works and wants to do that too,’ she said proudly.
‘I also have the flexibility to spend as much time with them as I want,’ she added.
Kiani briefly considered going to university – following the success of her conveyancing business.
‘But a friend told me I would be crazy to, if I want lawyers in the business I am in the position now to hire them. I don’t have to do that stuff myself.’
She took that advice and will soon open a law firm with two business partners, a lawyer and a mortgage broker.
Dubbed Entourage Law the firm will operate separately to Imperiale, but continue to focus on property law.
‘I will be able to direct my customers to Entourage if they need the assistance of a lawyer for their property matters,’ she said.
Kiani says she got her work ethic from her mum who was a ‘workhorse’ as well as a single mum
She is back working from home again – this time as boss of three separate businesses
While conveyancers can help with most simple property matters more complicated purchases need to be done under the supervision of a lawyer.
Kiani said he nanna is ‘proud as punch’ of her success.
‘She still jokes about the $1600, asks when she might be getting it back,’ she laughed.
Kiani says she finally has confidence in her abilities and is currently looking for a beautiful home to call her own.
She also expects to dip into the investment property market soon, after helping her clients through the process for so many years.