in the studio with illuminated me

Sharon Herrick's cheery yellow studio on the second floor of her South Portland home is adorned with kites, flags, and artifacts from her travels, all bathed in a warm light that pours through the window on our late morning visit. It is the most well-suited space we can imagine for this entrepreneurial artist, emanating the same energy and optimism that is palpable as soon as she starts speaking. "There's a lot that inspires me and shows up in my studio space: fine art, street art, natural forms, spirituality. I try to ground all the pieces I make in something bigger than me."

In the studio with portland, maine based jewelery-maker, Sharon Herrick of Illuminated Me

Beads and tools in the studio of portland, maine based jewelry-maker, Sharon Herrick of Illuminated Me

Although Sharon's company, Illuminated Me, only officially launched in 2016, years of experiences led up to its inception. After studying filmmaking in college and pursuing a Masters Degree in Social Work, she spent many years engaged in social change efforts, working as an advocate for both elder justice and refugee healthcare. To mitigate the stress of her work, Sharon learned to string and weave beads, finding herself deeply satisfied by the meditative process. Encouraged by her friends and family to sell the pieces she was making, Sharon began to formulate a plan for how she could apply her skills and her passion for social change to build a business around the hobby she had grown to love. "My skills are transferrable," she tells us, "and life is so much more interesting when you can take your skills and try them out in new situations.” 

Personal items on a shelf in the studio of Portland, Maine based jewelry designer, Sharon Herrick of Illuminated Me

Shelf of beading supplies in the studio of Portland, Maine based jewelry designer, Sharon Herrick of Illuminated Me

Beads inside of jars in the studio of Portland, Maine based jewelry designer, Sharon Herrick of Illuminated Me

In the Spring of 2016, Sharon reached out to Portland Jobs Alliance, an organization pairing low income and new Mainers with local employers. Through them, she hired her first employee, Nabaa, a migrant to Maine from Baghdad. "She's from a family of artists and has her Masters Degree in Interior Design," Sharon raves. "She brings so much to the table and I feel incredibly lucky to be working with her." For convenience to both women, who have children and value the flexibility of a 24 hour access studioIlluminated Me rents two tables at Portland's Gathering of Stitches in the East Bayside neighborhood. Using thread and beading wire, they string the small beads in precise patterns, crafting pieces that are designed to represent truth, hope, clarity, courage, and connection.

Good luck and inspirational items in the studio of Portland, Maine based jewelry designer, Sharon Herrick of Illuminated Me

Tokens of positivity in the studio of Portland, Maine based designer, Sharon Herrick of Illuminated Me

Natural Art Forms book in the studio of Portland, Maine based jewelry designer, Sharon Herrick of Illuminated Me

Driven by her passion to support not only newcomers to the community, but also Maine's many existing local businesses, Sharon makes an effort to collaborate with them whenever possible. "I feel really well supported here," she says regarding Portland, "I'm always thinking about how we can work with the talents that are nearby. That's what this is all about.” Along with her involvement with Portland Jobs Alliance, Women's Business Center, Small Business Development Center, and SCORE, she relies on local companies and artists for product displays, logo design, photography, and bead supply. 

While Illuminated Me is still a small operation, sales have increased steadily and Sharon has plans to hire more employees as the business grows, providing them with jobs that offer fair wages to support themselves and their families. Just as the past years and experiences have brought about developments she never planned on, she remains excited for what lies ahead. "I just stay open and keep taking advantage of every opportunity that's in front of me," she smiles. "I'm at this place now where I can make change with beauty."

Shop Illuminated Me jewelry by clicking here, or scrolling below to view the full collection.

Sharon Herrick of Illuminated Me bead weaving in her Portland, maine studio

Inspiration hung on the walls of Portland, Maine based jewelry designer, Sharon Herrick's studio

Sharon Herrick of Illuminated Me wearing some of her own jewelry designs


2 responses

Kathleen O'Donnell
Kathleen O'Donnell

October 05, 2016

Beautiful pieces displayed here! I’m intrigued with the titles of the collections and how they fit with values and philosophies that I like to think that I live by. These must resonate with women…& even men!


September 19, 2016

Wonderful designer, amazing passion and beautiful designs.

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