It takes a bold set of jewelers to collaborate with one of their favorite artists—and then take apart the finished work.
But that’s exactly what Amy Peterson and Diana Roginson did with their latest Rebel Nell collection. With celebrated muralist Louise Jones, the Detroit-based jewelers and their team, who they’ve dubbed Creative Designers, carefully demoed an original piece of artwork to create a collection of rings, earrings, necklaces, cufflinks, and more.
Detroit-based Rebel Nell is known for turning graffiti into fashionable jewelry. But Peterson and Roginson always knew the soul of their business was repurposing meaningful materials into wearable art. Now, the socially conscious jewelry business is evolving in that direction, turning everything from original art to vintage Motown records to treasured landmarks like the Atlanta Braves’ Truist Park Dugout into jewelry collections.
The Ouizi Collection is Rebel Nell’s first in its new Artist Series. In May, Rebel Nell invited Jones—who goes by the nickname “Ouizi”—to its Detroit headquarters, which includes its design studio and retail store. Jones, known for her large-scale floral murals across the United States, created a one-of-a-kind painting, which Rebel Nell then deconstructed to create each individual piece.
Peterson, Rebel Nell’s cofounder and CEO, says since the company started making graffiti and street-art jewelry in 2013, it has dreamed of expanding into new mediums and art forms. Peterson met Jones in Chicago years ago and sought her out as the launching point for future artist collaborations.
The resulting jewelry is delicate yet powerful, detailed to the smallest degree with the texture of Jones’ individual brushstrokes. Each purchase comes with a 5-by-5-inch canvas reprint of the original mural, something Peterson says Rebel Nell will do for its of its Artist Collections.
“Graffiti is still very much part of our soul, but what we realized is we’re great at preserving memories and telling stories through jewelry,” Peterson says. “There’s something important about being able to repurpose this meaningful material. There’s environmental reasons for owning a piece of history, but it’s also about having a personal connection with something you love.”
Rebel Nell pays tribute to its Detroit headquarters through jewelry partnerships with the Detroit Tigers, creating a Comerica Park collection. It also has created limited-edition collections around Detroit landmarks, such as the Belle Isle Aquarium as well as the Joe Louis Arena. Another unique partnership is with the Motown Museum, taking its heart-shape albums and turning them into jewelry.
In addition to its Detroit-focused collections, Rebel Nell recently expanded to work with the Atlanta Braves on its Truist Park Dugout series and the Cincinnati Reds, using stadium banners in a collection that supports the Reds Community Fund.
These collections also represent Rebel Nell in its work as a social enterprise with a mission to employ and provide equitable opportunity as well as support to women who have barriers to employment. To date, Peterson says, Rebel Nell has hired 31 women out of Metro Detroit shelters and graduated 22 into traditional workforce employment.
Peterson says they look forward to working with other artists as well as new collaborations in Atlanta and Miami in the months to come.
“We always wanted to do this, but we also needed the bandwidth to do it. We decided as we were coming out of COVID that now was the time to try something new and see how it sticks,” Peterson says.
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