When we started Rebel Nell in 2013, the vision for growing the company was already in my mind before our first year was in the books. We have been committed to continuing the work we do in our hometown of Detroit, but I’ve always dreamt of expanding our reach to other cities where we could also have an impact on women in need. However, like so many entrepreneurs, I had no clue what that would look like or how it would happen. So many uncertainties, followed by self-doubt. Will this new city like us? Will they understand what we are doing? Will all this energy be for nothing? I’ve learned that once you weed whack your way through the doubt, and quiet your fear of failing, you need to speak it into existence and work at it, little by little.
This lead me to ask the big question: Where would be our first expansion city? And just like that, the universe answered. In the middle of 2018 we received a package from an amazing customer. In the package was a giant slab of graffiti with a sticky note that read, “Hey Rebel Nell ladies! I was out walking in Chicago and came across this chunk of graffiti that fell off of a wall near my neighborhood. I thought you guys would like it. Keep making a difference!” That was our lightbulb moment. Chicago would be our first launch city. It was perfect! Chicago is a sister city to Detroit, and we now had graffiti that allowed us to make a location-specific collection. To top it off, we already had an incredible retail partner in Chicago Truborn. We pitched them the idea of launching a Chicago specific collection at their location and they were equally excited about the opportunity.
However, one thing was missing. While we are still not ready to open a production facility in Chicago just yet, we wanted to ensure that this collection has an impact in the local community that is true to our mission. We researched organizations that share the same passion of empowering women and learned about the tremendous work of Deborah’s Place. This incredible Chicago-based organization opens doors of opportunity for women experiencing homelessness in Chicago. They share our belief that supportive housing and services offer women their key to healing, achieving their goals, and moving on from the experience of homelessness. We selected Deborah’s Place to be the worthy beneficiary of a portion of our proceeds from the sale of our Chicago Collection at our pop-up with Chicago Truborn.
The entire experience from the pop-up to now with our Chicago Collection launching online, has been wonderful and I am proud to call it a success. The pop-up went well despite the blizzard and our small advertising budget. Chicagoans were very receptive and supportive, and we are so grateful for the opportunity to partner alongside them in the mission to empower women. Launching in a new market is incredibly challenging and no matter how much love, time, money and energy you give to an experience, your marketing material may still be used as a coaster (true story), but I am proud of the vision and dedication of the Rebel Nell team to expand our impact and make a difference in the lives of women beyond our own community. I hope that you find a piece you love from our Chicago Collection, and thank you for your continued support in our mission to empower women.
Co-Founder + CEO of Rebel Nell