Detroit Graffiti + Social Enterprise = Chic Jewelery

PICTS: COURTESY OF REBEL NELL
PICT: COURTESY OF REBEL NELL

Many thanks to Romy Gingras, of Gingras Global for permission to use excerpts of her interview for our latest Patriot-Made podcast story. This American made story is about Rebel Nell and with just few words you get that this is a story about : Chic Jewelry! But, there is quiet a unique  back story about Rebel Nell’s roots and how they got started. Listen to our podcast story here.  It also seems Rebel Nell is gaining the attention of Martha Stewart and even Detroit’s Mayor Mike Duggan who visited the Rebel Nell shop, just yesterday! 

 In revitalizing the city of Detroit, Amy Peterson, co-founder of Rebel Nell, has a dual mission: To help rebuild the city by using graffiti that has fallen off  decaying buildings, to make jewelry and to get women out of shelters. Rebel Nell employs, educates and empowers under-served women from shelters in Detroit to assist them in transitioning to an independent life.   Rebel Nell’s goal is to help women move from a life of dependence to one of self-reliance, overcoming barriers to employment through the fruits of their own labor.  Working directly with local homeless shelters, Rebel Nell identifies women who are ready to make to transition to a new phase in their lives.

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PICTS: COURTESY OF REBEL NELL

Rebel Nell’s product line starts by re-purposing graffiti, an abundant local resource in the Motor City.  They collect the graffiti after it has already fallen off of walls.

PICTS: COURTESY OF REBEL NELL

After some hard work and TLC, the women of Rebel Nell turn the scraps of graffiti into a unique piece of wearable art.

The studio in Detroit is located in the Grand River Creative Corridor, in a creative work space called the 4731 Building. This was an abandoned part of Detroit that has come under the care of local artists to become a breeding ground for creativity.

How Rebel Nell Got Started: 

Amy Peterson, is an attorney, and nearly two years ago she was living next to a homeless shelter. She  had conversations with the women while walking her dog. During these conversations, Peterson learned that many of these women ended up in shelters through situations out of their control.  She realized that these women needed a transitional opportunity.

Thereafter, Peterson brought on board a fashion manager Diana Russell and in December 2013, Rebel Nell — named after Eleanor Roosevelt’s nickname Little Nell — hired three women, one of which was living in a shelter while the other two were in transitional homes.   Peterson and Russell plan to add two more women from shelters to the team. The two co-founders continue working their regular full-time jobs and don’t pay themselves a salary at Rebel Nell, so that their employees can make a living wage.

The primary goal at Rebel Nell is to restore the confidence in the women we hire.  In addition to on the job training, we provide financial management, life wellness and business education to help them successfully transition to an independent life.

For more information, please visit Rebel Nell at:

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