And the 29 other amazing models, artists and designers who make up this year's creative class.
n founding Queenly, a platform that enables users to purchase pageant dresses secondhand, Trisha Bantigue is giving every woman a shot at becoming Miss American Dream. It makes sense: the pageant world became Bantigue's world after she won emancipation from her abusive mom at 17. Without parental support to make Bay Area rent payments during her time at University of California, Berkeley, Bantigue, who had worked both modeling and McDonald's jobs to get by, decided to compete in pageants as winning prize money could keep her in school. "Pageants really helped me get my degree, and they changed my life," she says.
After college Bantigue did what any enterprising Berkeley grad does: She worked at Facebook, Google and Uber. But her heart was still in pageantry, she noticed how inaccessible the industry is for women like from backgrounds like her own. "These gowns sometimes cost as much as a car, and it's crazy because you only wear a gown one time," she says. "I started noticing how hard it was for other people, and even myself to find a gown, afford a gown, and then resell it."
Poshmark, Depop and the other resale sites just didn't cut it when it came to peer-to-peer pageant gowns. So she enlisted Kathy Zhou, a Penn-educated engineer with whom she interned at a tech startup, and told her about her idea to build a peer-to-peer formalwear reselling platform. Zhou was a skeptic until Bantigue convinced her to compete in a pageant. Today, thousands of shoppers have used Queenly to browse by dress shape from mermaid to side-slit, and shop closets of queens like Taylor Hale, Miss Michigan 2021. The cofounders have raised over $7 million from Andreessen Horowitz, Y Combinator and the CEO of Fitbit, among others, to give every aspiring queen her perfect gown.
"Pageants really helped me get my degree, and they changed my life."
The other diverse creatives on the 2022 Forbes Under 30 Art & Style list are similarly amazing. This year, our editorial team and judges prioritized candidates potential and embraced the way in which the Under 30 distinction can catalyze someone's career. In such, these honorees are the people who received the highest marks from the judging panel of supermodel-entrepreneur Tyra Banks, designer Kim Shui and artist Amy Sherald.
Take Taipei-born PleasrDAO cofounder Emily Yang who, as a digital artist for good, has donated $1.5 million to charitable causes at just 29. Earlier this year Yang created and sold an NFT for $525,000, subsequently forming the Stand With Asians Community Fund to champion AAPI causes. (She's personally contributed $700,000 to the fund.) After this, founded PleasrDAO, a charitable NFT collective that worked to donate $5.5 million from the sale of an Edward Snowden NFT to the Freedom of the Press.
On fashion side, there's the Mance siblings who cofounded iconic shoe brand Naked Wolfe, known for its chunky heels. And though they have celebrity fans like Ariana Grande and the Hadid sisters, the siblings got their start in footwear long before starting Naked Wolfe—they grew up in their father's Melbourne, Australia shoe shop. It became clear to the footwear-steeped siblings that no brand made chunky shoes that celebrated urban youth culture, so they made their own. Today the Mances' Naked Wolfe makes upwards of $80 million annually selling chunky and funky sneakers, heels, boots and loafers.
On the topic of celebrity, fashion fans will undoubtedly recognize 27-year-old supermodel Winnie Harlow who earned a place on this year's list for work advocating for alternative beauty as the most prominent model with vitiligo to appear in campaigns for Victoria's Secret, Marc Jacobs and Nike, among others. Then there's lesser known model Geron McKinley, who grew up in a Compton, California trailer park and has now modeled for Gap, Versace and Michael Kors (alongside Bella Hadid), among others. He's also the founder of nonprofit Concreet, which aims to uplift underprivileged Los Angeles youth.
There are amazing photographers like Emily Lipson and Kendall Bessent. Lipson, who cut her teeth at Vanity Fair , has since gone freelance—shooting for Nike, Charli XCX, Parade and others, making it virtually impossible to walk down a New York City street without seeing her work. At just 21, Bessent is interested in exploring the complexities of Blackness and has done so in the pages of the Washington Post , Atlanta Constitution Journal , and i-D , among others.
It takes deep industry expert and empathy to recognize who has what it take to be on top, and who better to judge than Tyra Banks, Kim Shui and Amy Sherald. After becoming the first Black woman to grace the covers of GQ and Sports Illustrated Swimsuit , Banks shepherded the next generation of models as the executive producer and host of the first 22 seasons of America's Next Top Model . Shui made the Under 30 list in 2019 and since has had her sexy and subversive fashions worn by Kylie and Stormi Jenner, Cardi B and Hailey Bieber, among others. On the art side, 48-year-old Amy Sherald has become one of the most prolific painters for her arresting depictions of everyday Black Americans. She's had multiple solo shows at Hauser & Wirth, won the 2019 Smithsonian Ingenuity Award and has works in Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, among others.
This year's list was edited by Alexandra Sternlicht and Joshua Burrell .
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