Unique popup store benefits homeless Chicago women

It started with a simple question: What can I do to help my neighbor?

For Amy Peterson, who was living in recession-plagued Detroit pursuing her dream of working in Major League Baseball, that neighbor was a women’s shelter. She wanted to help the women find their way out of difficult circumstances by providing employment and teaching them to create something to sell.

The result is Rebel Nell, a jewelry company that teaches homeless women how to make one-of-a-kind jewelry from fallen street graffiti. Not only that, but the profits would provide money to help the women get back on their feet, says Peterson, co-founder and CEO of Rebel Nell. And what was once a passion project on the side has now become the Detroit mom’s sole focus in a push to create Rebel Nell as a national company to help more women. Chicago, she says, is the first stop into making that come true.

Graffiti paint chips gathered from Soho House and West Town will be turned into jewelry and sold at the Rebel Nell popup noon-7 p.m. April 26-27 at Chicago Truborn, 1741 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Deborah’s Place, a homeless shelter in Chicago. Peterson will be in Chicago at the popup.

One day, she wants to open a workspace for women in Chicago to create the jewelry.

More than 20 women have moved out of the Detroit shelter to work for the company. She says she works with them daily.

“… To see the change, to see these women evolve from someone who had so much doubt in themselves to see their self-esteem come back and see them believing in themselves. … With each class and each piece of jewelry they make, their confidence rises,” she says.

To learn more, visit rebelnell.com.

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