CEI Stories

Serving & supporting small business owners just like you.


October 19, 2016

Illuminated Me by Sharon Herrick

Sharon Herrick’s passion for beauty and for social change converge in her Portland, Maine-based jewelry business, Illuminated Me by Sharon Herrick. Sharon sources materials locally, designs and crafts each piece by hand, and is committed to hiring artisans who have arrived in Maine as immigrants or refugees. A diverse range of professional experience in media and social justice informs Sharon’s approach to building her community-engaged business.

photo courtesy of KColette
Herrick working in her studio. Photo courtesy KColette.

Sharon contacted CEI after hearing about services offered by the Women’s Business Center, and now works closely with business advisor Sarah Guerette. “Sarah was very helpful in guiding our pricing structure, market research, peer networking and continuing education, among many other things as we refine and grow,” she said.

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

Nabaa working in precious metal.
Nabaa working in precious metal

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.

Nabaa and Sharon Herrick
Nabaa and Sharon Herrick

“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.”

–Sharon Herrick, Owner, Illuminated Me

Learn more: Women’s Business Center at CEI and the Portland Jobs Alliance.

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