Premiering Thursday, April 29th on Maine Public TV

They come from places as far away as Ghana, Iraq, Rwanda, Kenya, India, Bolivia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. They are small business owners toiling away, doing what is necessary to make it in Maine, while giving back to a community that has welcomed them without hesitation.

In partnership with Bangor Savings Bank, we are proud to bring to the region “Elevating Voices,” a new series that celebrates diverse businesses, and their importance to Maine’s economy. Over the course of six weeks beginning April 29th, a dozen business owners will be featured in heartwarming, inspiring, and provocative stories that shine a light on the value of diversity and its positive impact on our communities, culture, and economy.

We would like to extend a huge thank you to all of our sponsors including MTI, Maine DECD, Kennebec Savings Bank, Eaton Peabody, Hannaford, Martin’s Point, Albin, Randall and Bennett, First Park, Sutherland Weston, and Thomas College.

“Over the last year, we’ve been tested like never before,” said Governor Janet Mills. “But Mainers have risen to the challenge with the resolve and resilience that is at the heart of our character. That character and resilience is also embodied in the 12 small business owners you will learn about in the ‘Elevating Voices’ series. I thank these business owners for their inspired entrepreneurship and leadership; your contributions to our state make Maine, and the nation, a better place.”

Sponsored By:

Bangor Savings Bank

Hear Their Stories

Viewers can tune in at 8:00 p.m. on Thursdays to one of the following Maine Public Television stations: WCBB 10 Augusta, WMEB-TV 12 Orono, WMED-TV 10 Calais, WMEM-TV 10 Presque Isle and WMEA-TV 45 Biddeford. The series will be rebroadcasted on Sundays at 5:30 p.m.

Meet the Honorees

Along with the visibility, each of the deserving featured business owners is receiving a $5,000 grant from Bangor Savings Bank. Take a moment to read about each honoree and use the links to visit their websites and social media pages!

Adele Ngoy

ADELE MANSENGO DESIGNS; ANTOINE’S TAILOR SHOP AND FORMAL WEAR, Portland

Adele attended fashion school and worked as a professor in the Democratic Republic of Congo prior to coming to Maine as a refugee and single mother. She re-established herself as a designer, founding Adele Masengo Designs and purchasing Antoine’s Tailor Shop and Formal Wear. Ngoy founded Women United Around the World in 2011, which promotes the leadership development of female immigrants.

Ebenezer Akakpo

AKAKPO DESIGN GROUP, Westbrook

Ebenezer Akakpo’s jewelry is inspired after native symbols in Ghana of abundance, affluence, bravery, endurance, friendship, hope, loyalty, strength, supremacy of God, and unity. Prior to moving to Maine, he trained as a fine jeweler in Ghana and Italy.

Katherine Slevin

LOVE COOKIE PROJECT, Portland

Inspired by her passion for the immigrant and refugee community, and her love for pastry, culture, travel, and hearing peoples’ stories, Katherine Slevin founded C. Love Cookie Project, a business that employs immigrants and donates a portion of sales to support the immigrant community of Portland.

Abeir Ibrahim, Regina Phillips and Deqa Dhalac

CROSS CULTURAL COMMUNITY SERVICES, Portland

Cross Cultural Consulting Group, run by Abeir Ibrahim, Regina Phillips, Deqa Dhalac, provides cross cultural, multicultural training and coaching to organizations that want to become more knowledgeable about Maine’s growing refugee and immigrant community and people of color.

Jason Brown and Donna Decontie-Brown

DECONTIE & BROWN, Bangor

Decontie & Brown is a luxury jewelry and fashion studio owned by Jason Brown and Donna Decontie-Brown. This husband-and-wife team draws inspiration from their Penobscot tribal heritage and their experience in the luxury jewelry industry to create beautiful trendsetting designs with a Native American influence.

Deko Kutz

DEKO’S KUTZ BARBER SHOP, Orland

Deko Kutz is a former mill worker in Bucksport who reinvented himself after the mill shutdown. He started a successful barber shop where he also gives free haircuts to those in need.

Thomas Douglas

DOUGLAS, MCDANIEL & CAMPO LLC, PA, Westbrook

Thomas Douglas is an experienced litigator who has successfully argued cases in state and federal courts throughout Maine, including the Maine Supreme Court. Thomas started his career at a large firm in Boston and moved to Maine where he is a Partner at Douglas, McDaniel & Campo LLC, PA.

Adrian Espinoza Garcia

EMPANADA CLUB, Portland  

Adrian Espinoza Garcia moved from Bolivia to Maine with his wife and quickly discovered that empanadas were practically impossible to find in Maine. He reaches customers directly through sales at farmer’s markets, breweries and events, building up a following for his food.

Marcia and Daniel Minter

INDIGO ARTS ALLIANCE, Portland

Indigo Arts Alliance, founded by Marcia and Daniel Minter, embodies a Black-led, multiracial approach to the rich intersections of citizenship, community-building, and creativity. IAA’s mission is to build global connections by bringing together Black and Brown artists from diverse backgrounds to engage in their creative process.

Somali Bantu Community Association (SBCA) and Agrarian Trust

LITTLE JUBBA, Wales 

Last year, the Somali Bantu Community Association (SBCA) and Agrarian Trust formed the Little Jubba Central Maine Agrarian Commons (AC), a transformative new model for community-centered land tenure. The long-standing dream for secure farmland became a reality for this group of immigrant farmers in May 2020 when they found their perfect farm, 104 acres in Wales.

Amber Boutiette and Patrick Breeding

MARIN SKINCARE, Portland

Amber Boutiette and Patrick Breeding founded Marin Skincare after they formulated a product to address Boutiette’s eczema. Now they are on a mission to bring the relief she found to as many people as possible, by building a brand of intentionally designed skincare products for people with sensitive skin.

Cherie Scott

MUMBAI TO MAINE, Boothbay

Cherie Scott, originally from Mumbai, India, is a content creator who utilizes her platform to share everything from cultural appreciation, the stories of Maine, and personal anecdotes. Cherie puts a big focus on dishes from India and loves to share her culture with others.