Collingwood’s fashionable Social Studio is creating a buzz this week as it vies for the $100,000 American Express prize from The Oprah Show.

Oprah seems to be everywhere this at the moment, including Collingwood, where the Studio found out they were finalists in the competition two weeks ago when Oprah’s television crew showed up and started filming. “It’s been going crazy ever since with everyone voting on Facebook. We are hoping to use the money to expand the Studio upstairs, get new sewing machines and a screen printer,” says retail coordinator, Zubeyda Ahmed.

Social Studio opened in September 2009 and is a retail shop, coffee haunt and design studio where young refugees from many backgrounds gain training and employment in fashion design. Already the 30 student designers have presented two major collections and with whispers of 2011 L’Oreal Fashion Week and orders from Hunter Gatherer, its no wonder they need more space.

Designer Atong Joseph, 18, is completing her Certificate II in Clothing Production through the Studio and says she is bringing her unique African aesthetic to the next collection. “I love colour and everything is colourful in Africa. Sudanese and Australian dresses are totally different, so I combine western styles with African patterns,” Atong says.

The prize money will also give Social Studio well deserved recognition for being one of Australia’s leading entrepreneurial projects supporting refugee communities. “With the international exposure, who says we couldn’t go worldwide? We don’t just want to keep this in Collingwood, we want to see this from Queensland to Mexico,” Zubeyda says.

Voting closes tomorrow, so to show your support for The Social Studio by heading to the American Express links through their Facebook page.

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The Social Studio
128 Smith Street, Collingwood