This Startup Turned Recycled Graffiti into a Business

By Amanda Lewan on March 24th, 2014 / Comments

Detroit is a city full of street art. Everywhere you drive in the city you are bound to find some type of wonderful outdoor art. But you are also bound to see some art that’s flaked and fallen apart.

Two Detroit women have discovered they can make beautiful jewelry out of recycled chips of graffiti from old art pieces, and turn it into a business with a socially good focus. Rebel Nell creates this colorful jewelry by hiring and training homeless women in Detroit.

Co-founder Amy Paterson says the idea for the jewelry came from a run at Detroit’s Dequindre cut, a bike path Downtown known for the street art on display. Amy and her business partner Diana Russle saw pieces of graffit had fallen off one of the walls. They began to play with it, and discovered they could reveal layers of spectacular color. They currently make four different pieces, including earrings, rings, necklaces and cufflinks all made from recycled Graffiti.

“It was made up of all these cool colors. We realized we could display this,” said Amy.

Rebel Nell also works with a local shelter to create the pieces, training women from the shelter. Amy says she had always wanted to work on a business that helped women at the shelter near her house in Detroit.

“Many women (at the shelter) didn’t have control over their finances, so we wanted to start a jewelry company to help them gain their independent,” said Amy. The company hires these local Detroit women from the shelter and teaches them how to make the beautiful jewelry. Currently they employee three women part-time, but are hoping to grow their hours and hire on two more women in the near future.

The company is just under a year old and has had exceeded their expectations for the first round of sales. They also have an abundance of graffiti to work with in the city.

“We were able to stockpile for the winter and make things. We anticipate with the harsh winter, more will be falling off the concrete walls,” said Amy.

You can find this creative new startup coming up at the Rust Belt Market in Ferndale on March 29th and March 3th, and online at

About the Author

Amanda Lewan

Amanda Lewan

Editor @michipreneur. Co-founder Bamboo Detroit. Follow me @Amanda_Jenn. I love telling the story of entrepreneurs and innovators.