PORTLAND, Maine — The process of making necklaces, bracelets and more with nautical maps takes time and patience. The result: a gift that hangs very close to Kristan Vermeulen's heart.
"On the inside [of this locket] is a photo of me and my daughter," said Vermeulen.
The locket was made at CHART metalworks in Portland.
Early in her career, Vermeulen worked at a fertility clinic and never thought she'd ever need the kind of help she gave other women every day.
"Actually going through a challenge was so hard," she said. "Like, 'how did I get here? And how do these women go through this?' I don't think people realize the struggles that other women go through until they go through it themselves."
After a miscarriage she felt defeated and craved change.
"Growing up in the Maryland area things were just so busy and chaotic and I wanted to find something new and fresh and a little more low key," Vermeulen said.
She and her husband moved to Maine. She landed a dream job, as the PR manager for CHART metalworks.
"I learned how to sail on Penobscot Bay out of Castine," said Charlotte Guptill describing her inspiration to create the custom jewelry company, more than a decade ago.
Guptill said early on, her mentor advised her to hire a PR manager to help the relatively small brand grow.
"It was a big lesson," she said.
That person helped the company land a story in the magazine, Coastal Living. From there, business boomed.
"It really launched our business," said Guptill.
She said orders soared from a couple of sales a week, to hundreds.
"For months and months this lasted," she explained.
When that public relations manager left to pursue another opportunity, Vermeulen stepped in.
Then came even better news. Vermeulen learned she was pregnant with her daughter, Elayna.
"She is the love of my life," Vermeulen said. "I would do anything for her."
She was gifted a locket after the baby was born.
"It really just sums up what my life is now and it also represents the future," she said. "Future memories of growing my family and being a mom."
At the same time, she remains mindful of how she got here.
"It has been a life changing event for my family and I'm proud to be in the Maine area," said Vermeulen.
So inside that Portland jewelry shop, you'll meet two women who both have gifts to celebrate this Valentine's Day. One came in the form of career-shaping advice. The other, a new addition to their family.