Artist's Bloc Gallery

Owner: Bob Sherman
Address: 1304 Cornwall Ave.
Phone: 739-2304
Startup Date: April 4
Square Footage: 500
Initial Investment: $3,000

Bob Sherman’s Artist Bloc Gallery on Cornwall Avenue aims to give young local artists a place to exhibit their work and establish a following of prospective buyers.

   Bob Sherman readily admits he is one of those Californians who moved to Bellingham in a mass exodus, but insists he’s the type that will benefit the community. Sherman worked in the art and retail business in and around San Francisco for nearly 35 years before relocating to Bellingham in January 2005, and now he’s putting his expertise to use helping young artists market and sell their work.
   The idea behind Artist’s Bloc is to give fledgling artists their first break, a place to hang and sell their work and a person to guide them through the process, Sherman said.
   The gallery’s clean, freshly painted white walls and terra cotta tile floor give the inside a crisp, open feel for better gallery-style viewing.
   “I wanted to give an atmosphere for young artists to get started, to help new artists get a chance in the art world,” he said. “It’s a hard business.”
   Sherman features 17 to 21 artists with no formal gallery experience, and asks them for a 90-day commitment to exclusively show their work at Artist’s Bloc. At the end of the 90-day period, Sherman will evaluate whether he’d like to keep showing their work.
   The gallery’s art sales operate on a consignment model, with a percentage going to the artist and a percentage going to Sherman, who also gives encouragement and feedback to artists whose work he shows, as well as artists he turns away.
   “I wanted to help, and to make money, too,” he said. “Who knows? I might have the newest great young artist.”
   Artists rarely get paid for doing what they love — only about 10 percent actually do, Sherman said. He wants to help change that in Bellingham.
   The majority of artists his gallery features have never shown work in a formal setting.
   Prices for the pieces, which include paintings, photography, mosaic work, silkscreen prints, sculpture and ceramics — mostly by Bellingham artists — range from $25 to $2,000. Even though he’s sold artwork in San Francisco for up to $250,000 a piece, Sherman said he wanted to ensure people from all income levels could afford his gallery’s art, so he will also sell small-scale prints of the artwork on cards.
   Sherman said his gallery is somewhat unique for Bellingham in that he will focus solely on gallery-style art, and not sell any other gifts or trinkets, he said.

Bergman HR Services
Owner: Michelle Bergman
Address: 5926 Birdseye Court, Ferndale
Phone: 384-7691
Web site:
Startup Date: Jan. 21
Initial Investment: $2,500

Michelle Bergman’s passion for HR work has led her to the formation of her own new company, Bergman HR Services.

   Michelle Bergman has a passion for human resources. In her case, that is not oxymoronic. Radiating communication and organization skills, Bergman truly believes in the power of well-managed human resources to improve a company’s overall performance.
   In January, Bergman started putting that passion to use as an HR consultant based out of her home in Ferndale.
   “I love developing systems or programs for companies, and customizing them for that company’s culture,” she said. “I’m able to work with managers who do their job well, but I can offer expertise on more complex HR things.”
   Companies who already have a human-resources department but need some extra help or who have special projects, as well as companies who may need smaller-scale ongoing help are the types of companies Bergman envisions benefiting from her services. She can help companies with employee recruitment, from finding candidates to interviewing them or developing and implementing an entire recruitment system.
   Or she can help with “soft skill” human-resources training such as conflict management, interpersonal relations, performance management and sexual harassment training.
   Bergman can also assist companies with more traditional human-resources issues such as employee relations, workplace surveys, strategic planning and developing handbooks, among others.
   She focuses on tailoring her services to the company’s culture, she said. After working as a human-resources manager in Denver for companies ranging from 100 to 40,000 employees, Bergman said she feels confident handling all types and sizes of companies.
   She can work by phone or e-mail, or come into the business and work there, whichever suits the nature of the job, although she said she likes to visit the office at least once to get a feel for the employee environment.
   Originally from Wyoming, Bergman received her bachelor’s degree in communication from the University of Wyoming and her master’s degree in education from Montana State University with a focus on adult community and higher education administration.
   Before going into human-resources work, Bergman worked as a career counselor in Denver, an experience she said comes up time and time again in human resources.
   When she moved to Whatcom County with her husband, she stayed home with her two children, but decided recently to start working again as they became more independent.
   “I love being able to provide services to companies to let them focus their energies on what they do well,” Bergman said.

Shahrazad: House of Kabobs
Owner: Parvz, Kris and Danielle Kazemzadeh
Address: 207 E. Holly St.
Phone: 733-9335
Startup Date: April 26
Square Footage: 1,700
Initial Investment: $160,000

Danielle Kazemzadeh has opened Shahrazad: House of Kabobs on Holly Street in the former Mallard Ice Cream site.

    Danielle Kazemzadeh and her parents, Parvz and Kris, decided to open Shahrazad: House of Kabobs because they couldn’t find any other Persian-food restaurants within a hundred miles.
   The family has worked to transform the space at 207 E. Holly St., the former site of Mallard Ice Cream. The walls are painted a pale mint-green and warm-hued oriental rugs line the floor. Customers order at the counter and pay, then sit down at one of the many tiled tables that line the wall.
   “I wanted to sell food I like to eat,” said 27-year-old Danielle, Shahrazad’s executive chef and CEO.
   Growing up on the East Coast, Danielle would sit on the counter while her parents cooked traditional Persian cuisine.
   She started doing the cooking on her own soon after, first taking classes from a Culinary Institute of America—trained chef when she was 15, then competing in and winning culinary competitions as a senior in high school.
   Danielle went on to work for several prestigious catering companies such as Design Cuisine Catering Company in Washington, D.C., and restaurants such as the Ritz-Carlton and the Rainforest Café in Virginia before moving to Bellingham with her parents in 2004.
   “It’s nice knowing it’s all in the family and I don’t have a corporate overlord,” she said of working with her parents.
   So far, the response to Shahrazad from customers has been “super positive,” she said.
   “Everyone is so enthusiastic about our being here,” she said.
   One customer even came back three times in one day to try different menu items, she said.
   The menu features four types of kabobs with ground beef, beef tenderloin, chicken breast or fresh fish, in addition to other Middle-Eastern specialties such as gyros and falafel. Prices range from $5.79 to $13.99 for meals during lunch and dinner.
   Sharazad makes traditional kabobs by skewering large pieces of meat and grilling, them over an open fire that is fed with wood chips to enhance the kabobs smoky flavor, she said.
   Danielle said most of the dishes use lemon, onion, yogurt and saffron flavors and ingredients.
   The Kazemzadeh family anticipates their restaurant will be a success because of its location and ethnic-food niche, Danielle said.
   “There is no other true Middle-Eastern food in Bellingham,” Danielle said.


Related Stories