Mere Designs is anything but mere. In fact, it’s a Tallahassee-based luxury clothing brand that services clients from across the world with custom pieces such as bridal, prom, evening wear and more.
Its founder, Shelbie Mere, 26, says she always had a passion for fashion, but it wasn’t until college that she took that passion even further and built her business from the ground up.
While growing up in Belle Glade, Mere knew that she wanted to own her own business. After graduating high school, she followed in her older brother’s footsteps and decided to major in business at Florida A&M University. While her vision for the future was growing, Mere was also growing and developing as a young woman physically. Due to her tall stature and curvaceous figure, it was sometimes difficult to find clothing that fit correctly.
In an effort to solve that problem, Mere began to research how to make her own clothes, a task that would soon put her on track to be an award-winning designer.
“Youtube played a big part in me learning techniques,” said Mere. “People would always ask me where I got my outfits from and would be shocked to learn that I designed and constructed them myself.”
The young designer launched her very own clothing brand in 2016. One very popular aspect about the brand is its prom collection. During prom season, when high school juniors and seniors are preparing for the formal dance, Mere is swamped with custom orders and creates her own hand-crafted designs.
“My first prom season was three years ago and I started off with two orders. This year, I had 30 orders,” Mere said. “During prom season I can’t take any orders outside of the category.”
Mere’s custom gowns range anywhere from $650 to $900. Because everyone can’t afford a designer gown such as hers, Mere decided to do something special this year by having a prom giveaway.
“I decided to host a giveaway this year. While most people would probably have strict GPA requirements, I simply requested for the young ladies to write in and explain why they needed a gown,” Mere said.
Marciana Linot, who was provided a custom prom dress from Mere, said she felt like royalty among her peers. “As Shelbie assisted me in getting dressed for prom, I felt like a princess ready to attend the Grand Ball,” she said. “Several of my peers and family members complimented me on the dress. As Queen Bey would say, ‘the world stopped!’”
Another highlight from this year would be a wedding gown that Mere designed for Nakisha Zambrana. The gown featured a nine-foot train and glass crystals that were hand placed by Mere.
‘If they could look up customer service in the dictionary, they would see Shelbie’s picture. She stayed for the duration of my wedding, pressed and put my gown on for me,” Zambrana said. “Every time I see my gown I thank her for making my masterpiece, I still have the same feeling about it that I did when I got married in April.”
Mere credits her aunt Cerine Francois for inspiring her to become the woman that she is today. “My great aunt was a hustler. She brought my entire family over from Haiti years ago. If it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t be here.”
Mere’s plans for the future are to relocate from Tallahassee. She hopes to open an official store soon, as she continues to grow her business.
“My main goal is to get a building because it always feels better when you’re able to leave home and head to work. However, I’m extremely proud of myself and what I’ve accomplished thus far.”
Mere’s designs can be found on Instagram by searching Mere Designs. She is taking orders for next year’s prom season.