A passion for fashion

A contest that launched Olivia Oram’s career.

BY WEAM NAMOU

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When she was 20 years old, Olivia Rita Oram of Bloomfield Hills competed in a fashion contest and her winning outfit design was chosen and worn by Venus Williams at the 2010 U.S. Open. Everything changed after the competition. Four years later, at 24, she announced the release of her clothing line OLIVIANCIO at rapper Frenchie’s single release party in New York.

“I love seeing the process of clothing design going from an inspiration, sketch, pattern to the final piece,” she said.

Oram’s love for fashion began as she was growing up and watching fashion shows. She started off her dreams recycling fabric and hand stitching unique pieces together and by age 18 she invested in a sewing machine.  Shortly after, she created her own YouTube channel where she featured how-to videos for sewing and fashion design.

“Venus Williams is a big fan of my videos and even tweeted my You-Tube page on her Twitter for all of show. It all comes along with a lot of her followers to see,” said Oram. work and not giving up.”

Oram’s parents, Gary and Bushra, and her two sisters, Maryann and Melinda, are supportive of her work and love keeping up with her designs which include custom clothes and accessories. As a businessman, her father gives her business tips and advice on how to build up her brand. Her family enjoys attending her fashion shows for Detroit Fashion Week and seeing her latest designs on the runway.

“It’s a dream come true, especially seeing it all come to life here in Michigan where I grew up,” she said.

Growing up in the Chaldean community has influenced her hard-working ethics.

“This profession definitely wasn’t easy to get into,” she said. “Especially while learning everything on my own – from sewing, to starting a business, to putting my name and designs out there, to designing for big names and also being a part of a larger fashion show. It all comes along with a lot of work and not giving up.”

That’s the advice that she wants to share with younger Chaldeans – to never give up on their dream.

“Live life with no regrets,” she said. “If people have something negative to say about your dreams, push back with something positive.”

Oram’s breakthrough came when she entered the Tide Plus Febreze Sport design contest. More than 35,000 entries were submitted and Venus Williams studied the top 60 finalists and chose the outfit designed by Oram.

“I was always a fan of Venus Williams so seeing her in the tennis outfit that I designed for her for the U.S. Open was amazing, especially since she personally chose to wear it,” Oram said.

The contest also helped her see that anything can be achieved if you set your mind to it.

“You are always going to face tough times but it is how you react to them that changes everything,” she said. “I tell people that you only live once and to do what you love and what makes you happy.”

The contest also motivated her to create her own clothing line which led to her involvement in a number of large fashion shows in Detroit. Through these shows Oram has received recognition by big names such as Pam Shiver, Jessica Szhor, Dove, Talenthouse, MTV, Frenchie, and ESPN2.

Oram has been the only designer to showcase her designs in the last three Detroit Fashion Week fashion show, two of which were for the opening night of the Auto Show for Mainevent20. This year, she will again showcase her clothesline at the opening event for the 2018 North American International Auto Show.


Her aspiration is to grow her line. She recently added men’s accessories such as baseball hats, tennis visors and bow ties and plans to build up even more on the men’s selection. As for the women's fashion, her collection includes dresses, skirts, tops, shorts and pants as well as accessories such as shawls, scarfs, jewelry, headbands, baseball hats, tennis visors. All her items are handmade in the United States.

Oram’s biggest challenge is teaching herself new techniques and learning to make original designs. The most important thing for her is her involvement in charity. Recently, her fashion show raised funds for Hands on Haiti.

“Help others in need along the way to a successful career,” she said. “Get involved in charities and make people happy. Show them that their lives can change if they believe, work hard, and always stay positive.”

A percentage of the proceeds from each of her OLIVIANCIO items goes to charity. You can find the list of charities she’s involved in on her website www.OLIVIANCIO.com and on her OLIVIANCIO social media pages.