Olivia Fabian felt confident. She had practiced her presentation hundreds of times—she knew it by heart. It was her moment to share what she had been working on for most of her life with a panel of judges who would ultimately decide whether or not her idea was worthy of winning $17,000.
In the end, they decided it was.
That September 13 night when she was announced champion of the Launch: New Venture Competition at Ivy Tech Community College−Northeast, a new chapter began for Fabian and her business, OFabz Swimwear.
Fabian captivated the audience with her innovative ideas, which include a convertible suit, retro-style swimwear in moisture wicking fabrics and hot/cold technology bags. Each of these concepts was inspired by a different problem, for example, women wanting a two-piece swimsuit to get a tan, but needing it to stay in place while being active.
“My mom and I were sitting in the living room, racking our brains. We said, ‘Hey, we have sheer fabric. Let’s try this.’ Now, people love the sheer one-piece, it’s so convenient. It’s cute, but it’s useful,” Fabian said.
The concept for OFabz Swimwear originally stemmed from Fabian and her mother’s ice skating dress business. Fabian, who has skated since she could walk, was in multiple competitions, for which uniforms could get rather pricey. So, she and her mom decided to make their own.
“We came up with different styles. People would stop me and say, ‘Where did you get that dress? I have never seen anything like that.’ So, then we started selling them to our club, and then we’d go to other competitions around area to sell them. Eventually we went online and sold them globally,” Fabian said. “It snowballed.”
Then, one day, Fabian decided to make a bikini out of the scraps from the ice skating dresses. The same snowball effect happened with the swimsuits, and thus OFabz Swimwear was born.
“I expect OFabz Swimwear to do well because Olivia did excellent market research and has design, production/operation and marketing experience,” said James Tolbert, business administration faculty and Fabian’s instructor in Business Development at Ivy Tech−Northeast. “With the capital now in place, she is in a good position to launch her business.”
Fabian won $17,000 to launch OFabz, along with an $11,700 residency at the Northeast Indiana Innovation Center and a $399 spot at Ivy Tech’s September 2011 Disney Institute seminar.
So, what’s on the horizon for Fabian? For one, she is continuously working to sell her swimsuits, both online and via boutiques across the United States. Secondly, she had the rare opportunity to skate on Buzda Dans, the Turkish version of Skating With the Stars this winter.
While most would consider this the opportunity of a lifetime, Fabian seemed excited, but determined not to lose sight of what is most important to her.
“My business is my priority,” Fabian said. “I’m looking at this competition as a nod back from where we came from, before I start strong into a new chapter.”
As for what she is most excited about, Fabian explained it will be seeing all the work she has put into OFabz pay off.
“I’m excited to walk into a store or walk down the beach and see our stuff,” Fabian said. “I like being able to look around and say, ‘Look, we made that!’”
Fabian plans to start her business mentoring residency at the Northeast Indiana Innovation Center in early 2012.