Rebel Nell

Using Motor City’s graffiti as art and to create jobs for women

Rebel Nell creates defiant jewelry with a purpose and that’s to employ, educate and empower disadvantaged women in our great city of Detroit. 

My partner Diana Russell and I make jewelry from unique local materials, but also provide a transitional opportunity for disadvantaged women in Detroit.  Our goal is to help them move from a life of dependence to one of self-reliance, overcoming barriers to employment through the fruits of their own labor.  We work directly with local shelters to identify women who are ready to transition to a new phase in their lives. 

Rebel Nell’s product line starts with repurposing graffiti, an abundant local resource here in the Motor City. We collect the graffiti after it has fallen off the walls due to the weight of layers of paint or damage caused by Mother Nature. 

The scraps of graffiti look a little rough on the surface initially, just like many people's first impression of Detroit. However, after we take it through our special process we are able to reveal all of the beautiful layers that make up the graffiti just like the intricate layers of people, ideas and history that make up our city. After some hard work and TLC, the women of Rebel Nell are able to turn that scrap into a beautiful and unique piece of wearable art. The kaleidoscope of colors serves as inspiration for our creative designers.

A major focus of Rebel Nell is restoring the confidence in the women we hire.  Many of them are coming from difficult situations and they need someone to believe in them to get them back on track. We allow them to have complete creative freedom over the color and design of each piece that they make.  Our pendants are our signature pieces and you can see the uniqueness of each designer by just glancing at all of the shapes on our website. This process allows them the opportunity to take control and create what speaks to them.  We have seen their confidence levels soar when someone purchases a piece that they created and designed from start to finish.  These are women who when hired have no background in jewelry but now they are creative designers who make incredibly intricate and unique piece, each one more beautiful than the next.  

In addition to on the job training and guidance on how to make jewelry, we also provide them with life management and financial training to make sure they have the confidence and knowledge that will enable them to leave homelessness/dependence behind permanently and move forward as strong independent women. We believe that Rebel Nell’s sustainable business model will affect change in our community for many years to come. 

For more information, please visit Rebel Nell at or on facebook at



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