Our First-Ever Create & Cultivate Scholarship Winners


We’re so excited to announce the winners of our first-ever Create & Cultivate Scholarship in partnership with Chandon! We selected three winners to attend each of our Los Angeles, Chicago, and Miami conferences, with round-trip travel, a one-night stay, and a ticket for a friend. These women exemplify what it means to be an entrepreneur, and we were thrilled to host them at C&C! Here’s what we were looking for in a candidate:

1. The business is majority female-owned/female-led (majority defined as minimum 51%)

2. The business is U.S.A. founded + operated in at the time of application

3. The applicant is 21 years or older at time of application

4. The business revenues do not exceed $150K in year prior to application

5. The business has a defined purpose and mission and a specific use for the fundsH

And below are the lucky winners! Stay tuned to find out who will win $10,000 in funding for their business on behalf of Create & Cultivate and Chandon!


Samantha Santana

Samantha Santana Creative | Instagram

Tell us a little about your business and what makes it unique.

My business, Samantha Santana Wallpaper & Creative Studio, is a design studio in which I create photographic realistic and illustrated removable wallpapers and other goods. Many are created with real florals that I style in real space. I also provide custom design services to other small businesses and larger brands, helping them create wallpaper, packaging & branding artwork, photography, textile design, etc. Every aspect of my business right now is done through me. Design work, packaging, accounting, branding, social media, and, hopefully soon, printing. I am trying to save money and buy a printer. I would like to manufacture my own product out of my garage, to better control quality and lower my prices.

What makes my business unique is that I design everything in house with real flowers, as I use to be a florist. I sought to find a way to work with fresh florals without working in the event industry, and the idea for my style of surface patterns and artwork was born. I am so glad people really seem to like what I do!

How has attending Create & Cultivate helped you take your business to the next level?

Attending Create & Cultivate this past year has helped my take my business to the next level in multiple ways. Firstly, the application process for the Los Angeles scholarship program aided me in laying out my goals for the year and strategize how to achieve those goals. I expanded my product line and designed lots of new work. Secondly, the networking I was able to do at the Los Angeles Summit help me land multiple features in print and online publications, such as Origins Magazine and Thoughtfully Magazine. These publications help legitimize my work as a retailer and an artist, leading me to more sales and, more importantly, my biggest client yet. I can't share what business it is, but it is HUGE. Like, I was blown away this business wanted to work with me, and I can't wait to share that work and the wallpaper install in a few months. I really can not wait to see what the next year holds for me, and Create & Cultivate truly played a huge part in encouraging my hustle and expanding my business.

What are your goals for 2019?

My goals include launching 10-15 new removable peel & stick woven wallpaper patterns, launching a notebook, fabric and cell phone case line, and expanding my wholesale business. Ideally, I'd love if I could provide wholesale and drop shipment product for retailers to carry in their brick & mortar and online stores. Similarly, another goal of mine is to collaborate with other artist, innovators, and small business owners. I am currently working on a line of florist wallpaper collaborations, and dream of expanding to other artist as well. Likewise, I'd like to grow the licensing side of my business by finding a artist representative to share my work with other brands for use in their product lines. Lastly, I would like to generate enough income to hire one employee to help me with office management and my shipping department, so I can focus on creating new artwork and developing new wallpaper innovations and product lines.

When you look back at 2018, what is the most successful or exciting memory you recall?
Looking back on 2018, I have to say my most successful and exciting memory was the birth of my daughter, Juniper, with my husband, James. She is sitting in my lap right now grabbing the keyboard as I type! Juni has changed everything for me, and part of the reason now I work so hard to stay self-employed. I want to be available for her and someday show her all the cool work her mama produced while pregnant and through her first years. It has been so hard to be the primary caregiver while working, but it’s so worth the sacrifice. Second to birthing a human, I would say my most exciting memory was my hot air balloon ride with Create & Cultivate and Chandon. I was so terrified, but it turned out to be a magical experience (like riding a cloud). I truly have checked off a few bucket list items this year I had no idea I had!

How would a $10,000 grant help you take your business to the next level?

If I won $10,000 in funding, I would invest the money in 4 specific ways. First, I would expanding my wholesale inventory, which would gain me the ability to provide wallpaper and custom wallpaper lines to retailers. Secondly, I would hire an employee to help with business operations so I can focus on creating new artwork and product. Thirdly, I would invest in product development for notebooks, fabric, woven blankets, art prints, and phone cases. Lastly, I might also use the funds to purchase a new camera for my floral photography.


Afenya Montgomery

The iCan Collective | Instagram

Tell us a little about your business.

The iCAN Collective (innovation, collaboration, accountability, network) connects diverse entrepreneurs to resources that allow them to create, launch, and scale a business. We're a Chicago-based company curating premium events featuring successful business owners to share advice and their entrepreneurial journeys with attendees. We are all about creating meaningful content and experiences for diverse entrepreneurs, creatives and leaders. We're the only organization doing this work quite like this, with a focus on multicultural entrepreneurs! I want people to see representations of themselves in business, media, and corporate leadership in a way that they may have never seen before.

How has attending Create & Cultivate helped you take your business to the next level?

Attending Create & Cultivate was a game changer for me! I learned to really put myself out there. It's so easy to think that your idea is only a good one to you, but sharing with others like you makes all of the difference. Being surrounded by like-minded women that all wanted the same things out of life as me was so motivating. I listened to the fireside chat with Ben Silberman (Pinterest) and have been working on a strategy to use Pinterest to grow my reach and brand. I learned from Alli Webb (DryBar) how filling a gap in the market can be the key to a profitable business. During the Mentor Power Hour, I connected with Ebony Lee, Senior VP of Strategic Development at Comcast and was able to build a relationship that led to a potential partnership with her company. I met far too many amazing people to name, but I took away so many actionable tools, tips, and resources to lay foundation for an amazing 2019 and beyond. Create & Cultivate is for the woman who knows where they want to go and just needs some help getting there. The conference was EVERYTHING because you are able to hear the stories of people who started out just like you and have made so much impact in their businesses and careers. Being able to witness success on this level in such a relatable way lets you know it's possible, and that you can do it, too. I'm taking my business to the next level because C&C gave me more confidence, motivation, and inspiration to really go for it—to seriously go out there and get everything I am working towards. Attending this conference was a blessing, and I will keep going back!

“Create & Cultivate is for the woman who knows where they want to go and just needs some help getting there.”

What are your goals for 2019?

Creating a more solid business foundation, increasing digital content, growing my community and increasing brand awareness, increasing revenue through sponsorships and creating additional income streams (products and services).

When you look back at 2018, what is the most successful or exciting memory you recall?

One of the most exciting moments in my life, period, was winning this scholarship. That's a given!  

Looking back on 2018, I am proud of myself for launching my new #GoalGetHer initiative and hosting my second-annual conference. #GoalGetHer is not only an inspirational hashtag, but also an event series supporting women (and men) in building viable businesses. These events empower, inspire, and motivate attendees to embrace their gifts, conquer goals, and create a foundation for building successful businesses. The November conference created a safe space for people to learn from each other, share ideas, and build strong networks through collaboration. Following [C&C CEO] Jaclyn's journey has really helped me strengthen my own business skills, get an even thicker skin, and push through obstacles to make IT happen. 2018 has been about finding my strengths and being strategic about creating a brand that's built to last. All of the year's wins and losses have been about learning more than anything else. I'm grateful for every single experience.

How would a $10,000 grant help you take your business to the next level?

I would use the funding to support the efforts of my new #GoalGetHer series. We recently launched this series of events that focuses on conquering goals, creating your own opportunities and building lasting businesses and brands. I HAVE to keep providing this content for men and women that need it and this funding will help me do just that.

Sasha Flynn

Adore Adorn | Instagram

Tell us a little about your business.

Adore Adorn is a direct-to-consumer e-commerce jewelry brand. I personally design every piece. The brand was built on a set of 10 mantras that exist to keep us in check and add something to the world—rather than take away. Fashion can be ephemeral these days, but we like to think that the natural materials used in jewelry has an opposite effect. I know that I hold an incredible amount of power within my creativity. For my customer, every fashionable expression is documentation that they have a choice to purchase with purpose. Adore Adorn works directly with our suppliers to source goods that are sustainable and crafted with love. We do our best to not overwhelm the planet with too much stuff as we are small batch, and sometimes custom-only. We design to last. We provide keepsakes that can be held within your lifetime and carried on, if chosen.

How has attending Create & Cultivate helped you take your business to the next level?

The Vision Summit was all about believing and creating. For me, I found the most value in being amongst peers who spoke on the panel, as well as meeting some great women during the networking sessions. I reached a point earlier this year where I was really stuck with my social media persona... I felt like I was having a hard time getting my message across and I realized it was because I didn't feel I could authentically share the place I was in. My year consisted of putting my head down and working, with no fun stuff like traveling and socializing. I took my personal Instagram page down for about 4 months, and I allowed my marketing assistant to work on Adore Adorn's social media pages, solely. I couldn't figure it out—but I was just "over it." The summit felt like the opposite of what I'd been feeling. I connected with creatives that were “doing the work" on social media and truly creating results. The messages from the panels let me know that everyone struggled with it from time to time, but that consistency and staying true to who you really are‚even if that only reaches a niche audience—is what will make your presence stick. Of course, I shot a lot of content on that day, and I have since been a lot more actively engaged. I think the summit gave me fresh eyes to realize that I wanted who I am online to match who I already feel I am, offline. So, thank you!

What are your goals for 2019?

In 2019, we hope to offer our mid-luxury goods to a wider range of consumers that enjoy personalization and customization. We think jewelry is the perfect way to offer goods that are unique to the consumer. Jewelry, by nature, has the ability to last for generations. The story of a piece can be passed down amongst loved ones without ever reaching the "grave." With the direct-to-consumer model, we will have the opportunity to maintain closer customer relations and build something that is truly meaningful.

When you look back at 2018, what is the most successful or exciting memory you recall?

2018 was CRAZY demanding! I opened a showroom in Atlanta, GA this year. It took me almost 6 months to design the space and make it fit within the brand aesthetic. I worked with Savannah College of Art and Design to hire recent graduates across 4 different majors to assist in the process and help elevate my brand. The showroom is an intimate space where customers can come in and design made-to-order custom jewelry and enjoy the experience of learning about natural stones, crystals, energy, and so much more. We partnered with WeWork to open a showroom in their Buckhead location. They have been so gracious to allow us to completely customize the space to fit the Adore Adorn brand. The entire experience has been one for the books, but above all, reaching new people to spread our message has been the best part. We just have so much that we'd like to share, which is why I was extremely excited to close out the year with Create & Cultivate, along with the potential of a business scholarship.

How would a $10,000 grant help you take your business to the next level?

We hope to use the $10,000 in funding for marketing the unique stories of creative women across the United States. We are story-tellers at heart and hope to build a documentary/content segment that highlights women that are using their life experiences and know-how to build companies that are unique and marketed towards the smart consumer (such as the Adore Adorn target consumer). We hope to fund a marketing campaign that allows the world to see these non-celebrity and non-influencer women for the strength and humanity that they have built in their respective industry.