PORTLAND, Maine — "We came, we quarantined, we isolated."
Sabina Hitchen moved with her husband and two-year-old daughter from New Jersey to Maine in March to be closer to their family who lives here.
"Normally when you move somewhere new you can make friends like through daycare with your kids or school," Hitchen said.
During the pandemic, it wasn't as easy.
"Community and connection are not just something that I want. They're things that I need, but times are crazy," she said.
She had to make those connections happen on her own.
"So I went to Instagram and I started looking for people who feel similar to me. So someone who is a mom, someone who is serving small business owners, and I found Kristan [Vermeulen]," she said.
Hitchen said she thought she appeared to be someone she wanted to be friends with. She did something she felt she had to do. She sent a stranger a direct message, looking to connect.
"Right away I was very open and just so happy that a new mom in the area wanted to do an initial outreach," Vermeulen said. "I was looking for a community, I was looking for a connection."
Like Hitchen, Vermeulen is also a mom. She has two young kids. She is the host of a podcast called Makers of Maine.
Over time they were able to form a friendship. Now, their group is growing.
"I actually met Sabina through a Facebook post," Mallika Malhotra, a mom of three kids and the Brand Photographer and Strategist at MikiFoto & Co., said. "I learned I was moving to Maine for my husband's job and I put out this post as an SOS to my community saying: 'I'm moving to Maine, I'm starting my business there my brand photography business, I'm looking for connections, friends, please help me find some people so I'm not isolated and lost.'"
Social media – helping once again. That post was how she was able to connect with Hitchen and Vermeulen. As three business owners and moms, they are now sharing how they've been able to connect so others can do the same.
"I think the most important thing I've learned is you need to be proactive," Hitchen said. "Things are different so it's not going to be as easy so you need to take that initial first step and reach out to people knowing they are hoping for the same things."
"I think it's also important to ask for help," Malhotra said. "To really be transparent and to be vulnerable. Moving and starting over is really hard especially during the age of COVID."
Malhotra added it's important to ask for help to make connections because it will pay off as it has for herself.
"Social media has been such a great support system for me personally and that's how I met these lovely ladies and just connecting them with the right people," Vermeulen said. "That can help build themselves as individuals but also as their personal brands too. I find online support is extremely powerful these days."