Rebel Nell began with the mission of employing, educating and empowering disadvantaged women in Detroit. The social enterprise makes jewelry by repurposing graffiti into wearable art. Working directly with local homeless shelters, Rebel Nell identifies women who are ready to make this transition to a new phase in their lives. CEO Amy Peterson (along with co-founder Diana Russel) began the Rebel Nell vision in 2013.
What inspired you to found Rebel Nell?
I lived right next door to the Coalition on Temporary Shelter located on Peterboro Street for several years. I’d walk my dog and talk to these women and listen to their stories – all they’d overcome and the awful situations that they left behind – and it inspired me to do more for them. To provide them an opportunity to learn and grow.
What else does Rebel Nell do to assist women in need?
We offer financial, literacy and management classes to our staff. We also provide regular mentoring sessions to help each of our team members build confidence. Additionally, we hold entrepreneurship classes to help empower our staff to further their impact on the city in their own way. Lastly, we assist in providing legal aid to the women who need it. All of these classes are built into the staff’s work day.
We also work really hard to get them out of the shelter as soon as possible and into transitional housing. However, we’re in the process of taking it a step further and developing a housing initiative that will take them from homeless to home owners. More to come on that.
What types of products do you sell and what’s the price range?
Our products include pendants, cufflinks, rings, bracelets, and more. The prices range from $65 to $175. Our necklaces which are our signature products come with a location identifier that tells you from what part of the city the graffiti originated. It is important to note that we are a self-sustaining business that relies on the sales of our jewelry to support our business and the programs that we offer. Each sale really makes a huge impact on the lives of the women we hire.
Where are your products sold?
We sell our products directly through our website (www.rebelnell.com) and art shows around Detroit and Chicago. Our products are also sold by over 40 distributors around the country. Locally you can find our products at the Peacock Room, City Bird, Detroit Artist Market, DIA and the Henry Ford Museum.
How do you want your company to impact Detroit in the long term?
I think that creating jobs is key to the transformation of the city, but you also need to provide the tools for people to be successful — which includes education, confidence building, and support. My short term goal is to be able to add one to two more women to the staff by the end of the year. To date, we’ve hired four women full-time from shelters.
What is the Rebel Nell Security culture all about?
Our culture is all about family. The most important part of what we offer is a support system, whether it’s listening or providing guidance. Our culture is helping one another.
What companies have you collaborated with in Detroit as customers or suppliers?
We collaborate with quite a few local Detroit partners to offer guidance to our staff. Just to name a few, Lips and Hips help with our women’s empowerment classes, LifeLine Business Consulting Services provides entrepreneurship assistance, LauRyn Williams provided financial advising, and Foley & Lardner LLP provides our staff with legal aid.
When you can connect with another Detroit businesses, what benefits does that bring?
Our relationships with fellow Detroit businesses adds to the community atmosphere that Rebel Nell offers. If it weren’t for the people and businesses of Detroit supporting us we wouldn’t be where we are today.
D2D Program Manager