Kicking off the New Year with week five of getting to know the makers behind some of the products in the shop. We have met some amazing people over the last 5 years. This week we had the pleasure of interviewing Amy, the founder of Rebel Nell.
Let’s get to know more about Amy
Amy never thought she’d do what she’s doing right now. She spent 11 years with the Tigers. Five years after starting Rebel Nell Amy took the leap and left the sports world behind to go run Rebel Nell full-time.
What lead Amy to start Rebel Nell
At the time of working for the Tiger’s she was living next to a women’s shelter. She wanted to do more and empower women. Ultimately leading to the creation of Rebel Nell, a company that would “teach a woman to fish”.
Rebel Nell hires woman from nine local shelters in the Detroit area; women who have been homeless, refugees, or formally incarcerated. At Rebel Nell their only goal isn’t to provide just employment, but they provide these women with all the support they need to be able to overcome barriers and hurdles that have hindered them in the past. Everything from financial training, life wellness, housing, etc.
These women will graduate and move into better opportunities to be able to get jobs that they can now maintain because of the resources they have been given through Rebel Nell. They are about to hire their 30th woman, and to date have graduated 20 into the workforce.
Where does the name come from
Amy and her business partner, Diana, wanted to pay tribute to a woman who was a leader and all about empowering women. After debating on the name for some time, they realized their shared love of Eleanor Roosevelt: the epitome of a women’s rights activist and woman ahead of her time. Her nickname growing up was Little Nell and they thought she was deserving of a more badass nickname. It fit in perfect with the fact that the women they employ as “rebelling” against the cards they were dealt. Also the fact that they utilize fallen street art, a rebellious art in and of itself.
Why a jewelry company
They thought it was important to have a product that would allow creativity and a vision to come to life, jewelry just happened to be a common denominator. Amy is self-taught and had a small jewelry business to pay her way through law school. While Diana had taken a few classes at Wayne state. They both appreciated jewelry and it kind of just fell into place.
What makes Rebel Nell jewelry so unique
One day when Amy and Diana were running, they came across some fallen street art, and were immediately intrigued by it. They found a way to expose the layers of the art and ultimately what has made their jewelry unique from the start. Each piece is made from fallen graffiti from Detroit. They wanted to ensure they had a sustainable business to help these women grow, fallen street art was where it all began.
Amy joked about how they would use old Christmas ornaments for the jewelry when they were out of metal. She said their “first pieces were total shit” haha! It’s amazing to see how far their jewelry has come.
Let’s learn about her favorite pieces and collection
They recently relaunched their signature collection, the pieces that started the company. She is really proud of them, it’s a true testament of their humble beginnings and what they have grown to today. Once each designer is trained, they get the creative freedom to make these unique pieces: from the cutting of the shape of the metal to the graffiti that they use. Amy described each of these signature pieces as “raw and so beautiful and so imperfect in so many ways, but they really are works of art.” This collection pays tribute to each woman who has designed them.
What inspires Amy and the creativity at Rebel Nell
They are always looking for the next thing or memory that they can preserve for their customers. Customers continually reach out to them sharing their stories of how special the necklace or bracelet was that they bought because of a moment in their lives. For example, here is one of the stories Amy shared from a customer: she had bought a piece from the Michigan Central Station because this was the last time her mom saw her dad before he went to war. Over the years they have really came to realize that they are the preservers of so many memories, something they would have never imagined. Keep an eye out for the amazing collections that they have launching this year.
What type of products does Rebel Nell sell
Aside from jewelry, they have tried to bring in more lifestyle pieces. For example, their wine stoppers are amazing and let’s be honest, who doesn’t love wine?! They want to have something for everyone, including cufflinks for the man in your life. Each piece is the perfect gift for someone or yourself, and a reminder that you are “one of no other kind”. You can shop all of the products directly on their site: https://www.rebelnell.com.
Advice to other entrepreneurs
“Get as much advice as you possibly can from everybody around you.” Surround yourself with a strong circle of connections. There will always be someone smarter than you, someone you can learn from. One last piece of advice Amy had because so many people make this mistake, “get an accountant.” You may think you can do it yourself, but it’s just too much. Make the investment before it costs you more in the long run.
We hope you enjoyed learning more about Amy and her journey starting Rebel Nell. We are so inspired by Amy and Diana, and all that they have done to create a company to empower so many women. Check out all of their one of a kind pieces on their website and at Ferne.
Check back next week for our next Meet the Maker | Entrepreneur.