Sisters and Artists: Oami Powers

This is the second in a series of posts on artists with a special relationship – sisterhood!

She probably doesn’t know this, but as soon as we got back to North Carolina and started researching designers in the state, we stumbled on Oami Power‘s clothing line, Judah Ross. We fell in love with the lines and patterns and colors and of her work. And when we found the fantastic blog she created with her twin sister, we knew we had found a kindred spirit.

We interviewed Oami to find out more about her inspiration, her craft, and her relationship with her sister, Ruscha.

Rucha, her son Royal and Oami in Oakland, CA

The Makery: Could you tell us a little about your life as an artist? How did you come to create Judah Ross?

Oami: My mom taught me to sew when I was small, and I started making clothes as well as re-working vintage when I was in high school. My dad actually hoped I would become a costume designer. I wanted to be a painter! I took as many fine art classes as I could and even completed a semester at CCA in Oakland. Eventually I gravitated back to making clothing. I get an incredible amount of satisfaction from producing products which will be used everyday, and which make women feel beautiful.The painter in me comes out in the choice of fabrics, and of course my custom & hand dyed textiles. 

Vespertine skirt from Fall 2012 collection – hand dyed
I started Judah Ross when I moved with my husband to Raleigh. I’d had a line before with a friend of mine and missed designing and having my own business. 

Oami and models at 2012 Redress Raleigh show

What has it been like for you to be a sister? What was life like growing up together?
My sister and I are fraternal twins. We were born in Berkeley, California about a block away from an area called the Gourmet Ghetto where Alice Waters’ restaurant Chez Panisse & the original Peet’s Coffee are.
Little East Twin, West Twins

Between them it seemed like our parents could make just about anything, and our house was filled with beautiful things they collected: antique textiles, my mom’s collection of weird and wonderful folk dolls, lots of records and books. We didn’t have a t.v. until we were about 7 or 8; our dad read to us every night. Later we moved to New Zealand, where most of our mom’s family lived.

We had a lot of freedom growing up, it was up to us to entertain ourselves. We basically did everything together. I was super shy and my sister was super outgoing so she was the leader during our adventures running around the neighborhood. She was the girly girl and I was the tomboy, so it’s funny that I’m the one who ended up as a designer. In high school our crew of girl friends were at our house all the time, we shared clothes and one of our friends even moved in with us for awhile. Since college we’ve rarely lived in the same city, which has been tough, but we talk on the phone regularly and visit when we can. 

Has your sister had any part in your artistic life – as a collaborator, feedback-giver, or inspiration?  

Rucha has always been super supportive. She’s busy raising three kids but she makes time to talk to me through tricky situations with the business and I really value her savvy. Plus she’s an incredible sales person. She can work a trunk show changing room like no one else!

 Sister Ruscha modeling Inca dress from Spring 2012

If you could work with your sister on a fantasy project, what would it be?

We’ve been working on our first creative collaboration for a couple of years now; a joint blog where she shows off her incredible writing chops and I try to keep up by being funny & posting pretty pictures. If I could have my way she & her family would move out here and she’d come to work with me on the business. But failing that, I’d really love to have her make some needle felted kids toys for my online shop.  

Read our last post with Whitney of Freshly Given, and check back next Wednesday for our interview with Laura Tamea.

3 thoughts on “Sisters and Artists: Oami Powers

  1. Thanks Krista Anne, a pleasure to speak with you! I’m surprised and flattered to know that you were fans of my work and the blog. What a great idea for a series of blog posts; looking forward to hearing about more sister acts.

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