By Leah Fox
An autistic 15-year-old who began creating uplifting clothing after being bullied at school is now pals with celebs, reality stars and influencers – and his designs have already been backed by the runway.
Schoolboy Oliver Reece-Woods showed off his t-shirt and hoodie line Oliver Jude Clothing line at Liverpool Fashion Week last week and dreams that one day his designs will make it to the catwalk.
The young clothing designer’s £10 t-shirts feature positive affirmations, including phrases such as ‘Believe in yourself’, ‘Love’ and ‘I am joy’ and he hopes to make his first million by the age of 20.
The teen is now being backed by celebrities including TOWIE’s Gemma Collins, singer of the 1990s hit ‘Dreamer’ Janice Robinson and the stars of the Real Housewives of Cheshire and Love Island – who support him via social media.
Oliver, from Laffak, St Helens, Merseyside, said: “I’ve managed to gain massive support from celebrities and everything fell into place when I built up my celebrity clients.
“I drop them messages from time to time and they give me their full support.
“Janice Robinson invited me to one of her shows in June and told me that it was so good to see someone of a young age being successful, it was really nice.
“My parents are over the moon with it all too and they support me every day – they’re always there for me.
“People tell me that no other 15-year-olds do what I’m doing, but it’s just me being me!”
Oliver, who was diagnosed with autism in August 2016, got the idea to create the clothing line after going through a tough time at secondary school, where he was bullied by other pupils.
He transferred with help from the local council and got a place at another mainstream high school where he is much happier.
Oliver has sold around 150 t-shirts so far and has already made £1,500 profit from them – but he doesn’t take a cut and instead reinvests the money back into the business.
Other famous names that have backed his clothing line to date include Tyne Lexy and Laura Anderson from Love Island, Instagram influencer Beth Bartram and X Factor star Anthony Russell.
Oliver said: “At school, I was made out to be the naughty kid because teachers didn’t know how to deal with my autism and it was a very traumatic experience and felt like hell.
“I think my autism has its benefits because it’s what gave me a business brain, but I behave and think in a slightly different way to others and some people think it’s an excuse but it’s just an explanation of who I am.
“At my first high school, I was put in isolation for two years, excluded almost every day and wasn’t receiving the support that I needed to succeed – it really affected me.
“But I then managed to transfer to another Rainford High where I got 25 hours of full-time support from the amazing support staff in the Special Educational Needs Department.”
After the school troubles Oliver had gone through, he became inspired to set himself a goal to lead up to, which was to start a business.
He said: “My goal was to start a business – I have always been business-minded and wanted to own a successful business helping others.
“I got the idea to make clothes with positive affirmations on the front, which started with three designs on t shirts and hoodies, and I have plans for more designs in the future.
“Through my hard times at school I learnt to always believe in myself, no matter what happens.
“Everyone deals with negativity in their lives, so the slogans on the tops are to encourage others to go forward through these tough times with positivity.”
Oliver Jude Clothing officially launched in January 2019 and just nine months later was offered the opportunity to attend Liverpool Fashion Week after earlier coming runner up at The Positive Awards, which honour inspirational entrepreneurs.
Oliver added: “I was so shocked and overwhelmed when I was offered the opportunity to go to Liverpool Fashion Week – I kept asking myself, ‘’is this really happening?’
“I absolutely love seeing my work on other people because of the big smiles on their faces when they wear it.
“In the future, I have plans to expand my business and I dream of becoming a millionaire by 20.
“However I don’t want to take a cut out of my profits yet – I’m not in it for the money, I’m in it to spread a message and awareness.”