BOULDER, Colo. — It started with a sewing machine and a pipe dream.
"I started making clothes for myself at first. I started with alterations, since my mom taught me how to sew when I was really little."
Then, University of Colorado senior sprinter Jaida Drame turned it into her self-titled business.
"I started making clothes for my friends and they started liking it, other people started seeing it, and now I sell them as my own business," she said.
Thanks to the NCAA's newly passed Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) ruling, a side project can now be a full operation for Jaida and her company Dramé Apparel.
"I can finally put my name on something and be like, 'This is mine. I created something from the ground-up,'" Drame said.
As an athlete, she had the inside track to functional fitness wear.
"Track led me to making clothes, because some things just don't fit me the way that I want them to fit me."
And it also gave her insight into the top-flight fabric.
"It was a lot of trial and error because I would make stuff and then go to practice and be just dripping sweat and be like, this is just not working," she said.
But eventually, it did. Jaida always goes back to the drawing board, and is motivated by seeing her creations come to life.
"The actual part that just sparks me is when I finish making something and I put it on and I stand in the mirror like, 'Oh, this actually looks kind of cool!'"
A sincere moment of realization that led to a life-changing one for Drame.
"I think this is something that I actually enjoy doing and I love creating stuff like this and I would like it to be a career," she said. "I want to be a fashion designer."
A scary moment, she recalled, when she finally said that out loud. Drame recalls wishing she could be a fashion designer from a very young age, but dismissing it as a childish fantasy.
Instead, the CU senior studied integrative physiology, with the hopes of attending veterinary school. Now, that dream is fading into the background.
"Now being older and realizing I don't need to close every single door, I can have multiple doors open," Drame said. "And more doors have opened for me since starting my business that I didn't even think would be a possibility, and now here I am."
A habitual self-starter, Drame walked on at CU, after never running a single race in high school. After two indoor seasons and a single outdoor season, Drame raked in six first-place finishes and raced the 400m, the 4x100m relay, and the 4x400m relay at the 2021 PAC-12 Outdoor Championships.