Sharon Herrick’s story is one of passions converging: passion for beauty, and passion for social change. Illuminated Me by Sharon Herrick is a Portland, Maine-based handcrafted jewelry business that sources materials locally, designs and crafts each piece by hand, and employs people who have arrived in Maine as immigrants or refugees. Herrick draws from a range of professional experience to make beautiful handmade jewelry through her community-engaged business.
Sharon Herrick first approached CEI after hearing about successful business advising services offered by the Women’s Business Center. She worked with business advisor Sarah Guerette to refine and grow her business. “Among the many pieces of infrastructure building Sarah helped me with… she was very helpful in guiding our pricing structure, market research, peer networking and continuing education,” said Herrick.
After about a year of working with the Women’s Business Center, Herrick had constructed a growing business. With more work than ever, she was introduced to the Portland Jobs Alliance to help her find an employee.
“My three year business plan always included hiring individuals new to Maine who were artisans in their home country. Partnering with the Portland Jobs Alliance brought my plan to fruition in just 6 months.”-Sharon Herrick, owner, Illuminated Me
The Portland Jobs Alliance, supported by CEI’s Workforce Development Program, works to connect immigrants and refugees with quality jobs in Portland that suit their specific skill sets. Herrick was introduced to Nabaa, a professional artist, certified Interior Designer, master cake baker and former business owner from Baghdad.
The Portland Jobs Alliance provided the opportunity for Herrick to bring on Nabaa for a fully-funded preliminary training period, as well as cover Nabaa’s childcare costs. Herrick was subsequently delighted to hire Nabaa full-time. “As a highly skilled and educated artisan, Nabaa has helped me launch new products, feel comfortable with making delivery deadlines and allow me to work on my business infrastructure and grow my business.” Herrick took Naaba’s employment even further by not only bringing her into the business, but integrating her into the community. They are often seen together at artisan events around Portland.
“There are so many small business educational and network opportunities in Portland, Maine. I love how organizations like CEI partner with SCORE, SBDC, and others. This open communication between organizations has given me a solid team of experienced entrepreneurs and corporate business consultants to help me grow my business.”