Skip to content

This Detroit Business Is Helping Local Homeless Women Find Employment

This Detroit Business Is Helping Local Homeless Women Find Employment


All photos courtesy of Rebel Nell

While most employers require a stable address, education and work experience before even calling a candidate in for an interview, Rebel Nell in Detroit is changing the process for how employment works. 

"Rebel Nell was established as a result of living next door to a women and family shelter,” co-founder and CEO Amy Peterson tells Because of Them We Can. “While taking my dog on walks, I would stop to chat with the residents of the shelter. Over the course of many months, they shared their courageous stories about the challenging situations they left behind in hopes of a fresh start. It was a light-bulb moment for me and my business partner."

In 2014, Peterson linked arms with Diana Russell (co-founder and creative director) and Julia Rhodes (co-owner and director of sales and marketing) to launch Rebel Nell to help impact the lives of the women she talked to on her morning walks. With the social enterprise company, the three women work with the Coalition on Temporary Shelter in Detroit to find women who are ready for a new transition in life. After identifying the women and taking them through an extensive interview, Rebel Nell then employs the women with a job at the company helping to make jewelry.

"We pride ourselves on being a self-sustaining social enterprise," says Rhodes. "Every piece of jewelry that we sell goes directly toward supporting our mission." 

Selling their pieces in various boutiques and museums nationwide, as well as on, Peterson and Rhodes also pride themselves on providing the women with more than just jobs.

Launching a non-profit branch to their business known as Teaching, Empowering, Achieving (T.E.A), Rebel Nell employees are provided with training, education, and the skill development needed to maintain financial stability and to find employment beyond their current company.

"On average a woman is with us for 2-3 years," says Peterson and Rhodes. "In addition to employment, the first year really focuses on giving them room to ‘breathe.’  We work on creating a budget to help get their finances in order, make sure they get out of the shelter and into permanent housing, get drivers licenses restored, help with transportation and restoring their credit." 

Since its inception, Rebel Nell has employed 15 women to its company and has graduated six women into the traditional workforce. While each women comes to the organization with their own personal obstacles, Peterson and Rhodes say seeing their employees overcome their challenges is beyond rewarding.

"This evolution is really powerful because now that they can breathe we see them envision their dream scenario and help lead them on the path to success," says the co-founders.

To learn more about Rebel Nell and how you can support their business, be sure to visit their website at and follow them on social media @RebelNell.