A Letter from our CEO, Amy
Nearly three years ago, we hatched an idea to empower women and help guide them into the next chapter of their lives. It seems like just yesterday we had our first ever sales at Dally in the Alley in 2013. There is so much work, anticipation, anxiety and fear that goes into a public launch. How will people respond? Will they like our product? Do they believe in our mission? Are these girls totally crazy for launching a social enterprise? I am happy to say, having just participated in our 3rd Dally in the Alley, the answer to all of those questions was and still is YES, even the crazy part!
We are grateful to our supporters who have made this extraordinary adventure possible. Your love and support, coupled with our passion to empower women, helped us to persevere through adversity to ensure another successful year. While it is nearly impossible to personally thank everyone who has supported Rebel Nell, please know you have contributed to the success of our vision to employ, educate, and empower women as they transition to an independent life.
So, here are my top 10 highlights for the past year. (When I started writing this letter I had over 30 points!)
- We are proud to announce that Rebel Nell was 100% sustainable in our first two years of operation. This is a tremendous feat for any company, let alone a small social enterprise. We are hoping that we can pull this off again in year 3. Fingers crossed!
- In August of 2014, we welcomed Rebel Nell’s first coordinator, Ms. Julia Rhodes. Julia has played an instrumental role in managing day-to-day operations and growing the business. As a graduate of Wayne State University and proud Detroiter, we are thrilled to see Julia share our passion to empower women, improve Detroit and continue to ensure the success of Rebel Nell.
- This year we hired 3 additional women who were ready to transition to independent lives. Rebel Nell currently employs five creative designers, all women from COTS shelter. Not only did we increase our workforce, we also increased wages, hours and responsibilities for all creative designers!.
- In July, we graduated our first woman who went on to get her dream job at Detroit Central City - helping re-integrate ex-offenders who struggle with mental illness.
- So far, all women hired by Rebel Nell have been able to move out of the shelter and into subsidized housing within 2 months of working with us, furthering their financial independence and providing a stable environment for their families.
- Speaking of the next generation... we are pleased to announce the creative designers of Rebel Nell are now the proud owners of SIMPLE IRA accounts. The IRAs were opened for the designers who have been with the company for one year. This is the next step in teaching our ladies the importance of saving for their future and for their children.
- Education continues to be a cornerstone of our company. Rebel Nell provides educational resources to ensure the financial stability and well-being of its creative designers including:
- Financial literacy classes
- Monthly appointments with a personal financial advisor
- Regular meetings with a women’s empowerment advisor
- Six week long “Intro to Entrepreneurship Class”
- Team building exercises
- We worked with the community to overcome obstacles. As many of you are aware, reliable transportation in Detroit is a challenge. And when faced with suspended driver’s licenses, the creative designers of Rebel Nell initially found it difficult to arrive at work for their scheduled hours. Fortunately, through the generosity of the dedicated team at Foley & Lardner, they restored the driver’s licenses for several of our creative designers.
- With the assistance of the Michigan Women’s Foundation, Rebel Nell secured scholarships to a leadership camp. The opportunity to attend the camp was provided to the daughters of Rebel Nell’s creative designers to empower the next generation of women.
- At this point, we know what you are thinking, “When do you have time to make and sell jewelry?” Staffed with a fantastic team, we make it happen. Last year alone, we sold over 2,000 pieces of jewelry. We hope to double that number this year and are working to expand our line and product offerings.
We have accomplished a lot this year. But our proudest moments are highlighted by watching the creative designers grow into confident and determined women. As they continue to develop their skills while working at Rebel Nell, they have each found a niche of the business that resonates with them. We look forward to cultivating their strengths and encouraging them to thrive in an entrepreneurial environment.
Thank you for your continued support of Rebel Nell as we strive to improve the lives of women for years to come. Please keep us in mind for your holiday gifts. Your purchases really do make a difference!!