Meet our 2021 Cultivate Award Finalists

These 3 BIPOC designers were chosen for their originality, innovation and design aesthetic for the 2021 Cultivate Award. With the help of our judges, we were able to narrow it down to 3 impressive indie plus size designers of color!

RSVP and Tune into the livestream event on May 2, 2021 to find out the winner!

Here’s What the Winners Will Receive:

Meet the Finalists

A’Shontay Hubbard
Courtney Noelle
Melissa Mercedes

About Each Finalist

Christian Omeshun Nu Boheme

Meet Ashontay of Christian Omeshun

The Cultivate Awards Finalists- Christian Omeshun

A’Shontay Hubbard is the Owner and Head Designer of Christian Omeshun, a plus size contemporary fashion brand dedicated to catering to sizes 12-32 on a made to order basis. She has built a name for herself as the go-to place for all your plus-size garment needs.

With deep industry knowledge, coupled with an analytical and detail oriented approach, She has equipped herself to understand the needs of the most discerning women, delivering an experience rooted in customer service, integrity and expertise.

Her strong fashion and design skills makes her a keen advocate for clients, proactively seeking out new ways to enhance her services and continually attain excellence, with customer satisfaction the ultimate objective. 

Over the course of her professional life, she has served and consulted with top industry executives of different fields, and travelled extensively. This grants her a sophisticated and nuanced perspective that elevates her current work, enabling her to match clients with the outcome they require.

She has also worked with renowned celebrities such as Raven Goodwin, a popular actress featured in the Television Series “Being Mary Jane”, who wore her gown to the Soul Train Awards, and Brely Evans, another renowned actress that wore her garments on The Sister Circle. 

Cyber Monday Plus size deals- Courtney Noelle

Meet Courtney Noelle

Courtney Noelle is a self-taught fashion designer. Born and raised in the Bronx, New York. She was surrounded by all facets of the fashion industry. From the streetwear brands, she and her wore, to watching people enter the tents in Bryant Park for Fashion Week. Fashion has always been a way to express herself, but she did not believe it was possible to become a designer as none of the designers she looked up to represented her.

In 2011, she graduated from Williams College with a Bachelors in History, fully expecting to land a job in the finance sector like many of her peers. However, she bet on herself and accepted an assistant position from an independent designer and three years later she bought two sewing machines with her last paycheck and started Courtney Noelle.

The Cultivate Awards Finalist- Courtney Noelle

Courtney Noelle is made for the woman who is full of herself, in the best way. Founded in 2014, Courtney Noelle is a fashion brand driven to push the envelope for plus size women’s fashion. Their playful color choices, daring prints, and glamorous silhouettes are leading a new standard in plus-size design.

Made in New York, Their signature collection features statements pieces, evening wear, and cocktail attire. Celebrities such as Lizzo, Gabourey Sidibe, Danielle Brooks, Mary Lambert, and Tess Holliday have worn their garments in campaigns, appearances, and on red carpets. Most recentlyCourtney Noelle was featured on as part of the “Black Parade” celebrating black businesses.

The Cultivate Awards Finalist- Melissa Mercedes

Meet Melissa Mercedes

The Cultivate Awards Finalist- Melissa Mercedes

Since the tender age of 7, Melissa had found her calling for fashion. She would cut her own clothes into doll clothes. She designed her 7th birthday dress. She designed her sweet sixteen and prom dresses.

She graduated from Long Island University with a MA in School Counseling.  Then she spent four years working alongside youth who struggled with behavioral issues and social obstacles as a counselor for Freeport Pride, a Non-Profit Organization.  She also prepared students for job interviews during their career search and conducted style tips on dressing for success. 

After spending some time preparing numerous students for their big moments, she realized it was time to concentrate more on empowering people through fashion.  

She started by styling friends and family. Then she created a styling company Called RetroBohoChic.  After styling for two years, she realized there was a lack of representation in dresses for women of all sizes.  After having to make her own dress to attend the Latin Grammys in 2016, she realized something had to be done. That’s when Melissa Mercedes was born.

Melissa has had the honor of being mentored by top designers in the industry who style some of Hollywood’s top stars.  With their help and some hard work, Melissa created a line of dresses for curvy women to promote SELF LOVE, CONFIDENCE, and EMPOWERMENT.