Amy Peterson knew she wanted to work in baseball since she was young, so after she went to law school and business school she applied to work for free for any baseball team. She wound up interning for the Detroit Tigers, and she's been "paying it forward" in Detroit ever since (though now she's their lawyer, not their intern). All of this is super, but none of it is the direct reason she's being featured. The reason she's being featured is the creative outlet/hobby she turned into the social enterprise known as Rebel Nell. Initially, she was making jewelry that she sold to mom and pop stores, which made her just enough money to pay for her law books. The rest, is better told in the podcast and below:
- What is the product? Rebel Nell’s jewelry line starts by repurposing graffiti, an abundant local resource in Detroit. They collect this graffiti after it has fallen off of walls. Initially these scraps of graffiti look a little rough on the surface, just like many people’s first impression of Detroit. However, after they take it through their process, they're able to reveal all the beautiful layers that make up the graffiti, just like the intricate layers that make up the city of Detroit. After some hard work and TLC, the women of Rebel Nell turn that scrap of graffiti into a unique piece of wearable art. Rebel Nell creates signature sterling pendant necklaces, rings, bracelets, earrings, tie-clips and pins. All products can be seen here.
- How is this product solving a problem and/or filling a gap? Rebel Nell prides itself on being a self-sustaining social enterprise. Every piece of jewelry that is sold goes directly toward supporting their mission of empowering women and helping them successfully transition to an independent life Our product makes it possible for Rebel Nell to implement financial literacy programs, entrepreneurship classes, and empowerment classes.
- How is the creator of the product disrupting the product's respective industry? When Amy moved to Detroit in 2007, she immediately fell in love with one of America’s greatest cities and was adamant about contributing to Detroit’s revival. Living next to one of the city’s most well known shelters gave Amy the unique opportunity to build relationships with many of the residents. The inspirational stories many of the women shared of overcoming emotional, physical and financial abuse were the catalyst for creating Rebel Nell. Amy was adamant about providing women in the shelters with an opportunity to lead an independent life. She believes that employment paired with financial literacy, business education, and a focus on life wellness can transform women's lives and help them regain the confidence they need to lead them on the path to success. Amy and her business partner, Diana Russell were named Social Entrepreneurs of the Year by Ernst & Young.
- How is it different from competing products? Rebel Nell is not just about the jewelry. They have set up a transitional system that enables the women they employ to stabilize their lives and reclaim their independence. Behind every piece of Rebel Nell jewelry is a story of a woman working towards building a future for themselves and their families. Their goal is not to pigeonhole them to be jewelry makers for the rest of their lives. At the heart of this social enterprise is a need to make better employees, to restore their confidence and to provide the resources necessary for them to realize their dreams and watch them come to fruition.
LISTEN to find out which movie it was that got Peterson to learn about the jewelry making process and how she strives to bridge the gap between the opportunity divide.