At just 20-years-old, clothing designer Olivia Rita Oram can add tennis pro Venus Williams to her roster of clients. One of over 35,000 entries in the Tide Plus Febreze Freshness Sport design contest, Oram vied for—and won— the honor of seeing her design come to life on the tennis court at the 2010 U.S. Open.
"It was amazing," Oram said. "I had no idea she would choose me. There were some other great competitors in the finals and I was so glad she chose me."
Oram first heard of the contest through an admirer of Olivia's Designs, her You Tube fashion video forum. "I got to the top in Week Three by the people's choice votes," she said. "In Week Eight, Venus chose me as one of her favorites."
Oram, who began sewing when she was 16, always knew she had a knack for fashion. Reaping inspiration from television shows like Project Runway and The City, she soon realized her dream of designing.
"I've always been creative," she said. "Watching shows on TV, I knew what I wanted to do. Creating something and throwing it on the runway is very appealing."
With just four years of experience sewing, designing the haltered black and white tennis ensemble for Williams was an enormous coup for Oram. After the prevailing design was chosen, Oram received further acclaim from the tennis pro herself when Williams took to her Twitter account, and sent a tweet shouting out the winning design.
"Congrats to Olivia Oram, winner of the Tide Plus Febreze Freshness Sport design contest! Can't wait to wear your outfit at the U.S. Open," Williams tweeted.
"It was amazing," Oram said. "I wasn't expecting for her to write a tweet. My sister and I saw it and were really excited about it."
Because of the support and encouragement of her family, Oram, a Lahser High School graduate, chose her sister to join her in claiming her prize.
"They flew us out to New York to the U.S. Open, and paid for the hotel in Times Square," she said. "I didn't get to meet (Williams), but the trip was amazing."
Tide also awarded Oram $5,000, which she shared with the St. Paul Nonprofit Charitable Organization (SPANCO), a charity that assists people in developing countries.
"The money I donated helped a child in Ghana, West Africa with their schooling and food," she said.
A Bloomfield Hills resident, she admires the fashions at Caruso Caruso and Oliver's Trendz in Birmingham.
"Joe Faris is definitely my favorite designer in the area," she said. "(His fashion) is really different, with a little bit of an edge to it." ...continued on page 2