Check Your Ego, Persistence, and Whatever it Takes with Amy Peterson.
00:01 What is going on everybody? My name is Ben Trela and this is taste for tenacity. This week on the show I chat with Amy Peterson in 2013, Amy and her business partner, Diana Rogensen, cofounded rebel. Now it’s a Detroit social enterprise that exists to employee educate, empower women with barriers to employment. Now prior to taking over as CEO at rebel Nell, she served as the vice president of special projects and general counsel for the Ross initiative in sports for equality arise and rise, worked as the associate counsel for the Detroit tigers. Amy, welcome to the show. Thanks for having me, Ben. So it is always a pleasure to chat with someone from a social enterprise because it focuses so much on having a positive impact and I’m just absolutely thrilled for our conversation. Thanks. Me too. All right, so let’s wind back the clock a little bit.
00:59 What did your life look like when you were, you know, trying to figure out whether you were gonna go to college or go directly into the workforce? What was that phase in your life like? You know, I think I, I always wanted to go to college. I think that was where me and my focus was. And I, it, I think it’s a different world now. I think education is far more at your fingertips and in college isn’t necessarily the, the absolute answer, but I think at the time when I was growing up, it was just for career advancement. So college was certainly the decision that I, that I wanted to pursue and and I wanted a small liberal arts school and that’s where I ended up. So it was sort of the natural path forward for you at the time?
01:51 Yeah, it was. Okay. So you started college right after high school. What were you studying? What were you doing during that time? Ah, so funny. Oh, well, you know, I, I, I’m going back now. You’re making me refresh a lot of memories. I was pretty laser focused. And that, I mean, looking back, there’s, there’s a lot of good to it, but there’s also a lot of bad things. You know, I meet people who say they wish they had laser focus back then, but I did. I did. And the problem with that is that, like you, it’s all you see. And anything short of that can be problematic. But I decided a really, really young age. I wanted to work in sports. I was probably like 14. Wow. I didn’t know what, there was a point in time when I wanted to be a doctor.
02:44 I ruled that out immediately. That’s one class of biology. I was like, Nope, maybe that was more like the sports medicine route. And then I I always knew I wanted to work in sports. I really wanted to be the first female general manager of a major league baseball. I wanted that at a really young age. And so I, I kind of geared my path in that trending that. Absolutely. So that’s kind of a lot of the decisions I made were around that vision. And what drew you toward a small liberal arts school right out of the gate? In part I think both my parents attended small liberal arts schools. I liked, I came from a small town. I like people. I liked the thought that you could know almost everybody on campus with only 1600 kids. Wow. That’s, that is a small liberal arts school.
03:39 And I really wanted to play rugby. That was a big thing for me. So I finally settled on Kenyon college in the middle of nowhere, Ohio. One of the greatest decisions I’ve ever made in my life. It was a crate. Great school, great opportunity. And I cherish the memories I have from providing Kenyon. Did you get to play rugby? I did. I played all four years and loved it. What was it like balancing that, that workload with your laser focus on the education side? And the nice thing about going to a liberal arts is that there, there’s not a direct major that’s in line with sports or anything like that. So I, I ended up being, I was a history major. I’ve always loved history. I was able to focus my thesis on the Negro leagues and Kansas city, so I was able to do all a little more of a baseball focus.
04:37 But yeah, I think that that all stuff took maybe a little bit of the pressure off cause I didn’t have to like major in sports management or anything like that. It was a, it was a broad stroke and then I knew from there I was going to go to law school. So that’s kind of where I was always sort of heading. So you, you start wrapping up school? Yes. What law school was in your targets right out of the gate and say that I, you know, here history is 2020 sometimes, but that’s not true. That is not true. I wanted to take a year off. I wanted to go live in Nashville with some of my friends who were living there. They had graduated a year ahead of me. My parents were very opposed to this idea. I don’t remember that Christmas. I got a bunch of sat books under the tree.
05:25 Oh, nice. Yeah. It was a subtle, subtle, not so subtle like so yeah. You’ve said you want to go some point time. We remember it. You may have been five, but yes. We’re going to encourage you to go. But I definitely was in the my mind because I was pursuing this track of working in sports. I really wanted a well-rounded brain. I wanted to understand contract cause I wanted, I think at this point in time I was getting a clearer focus of, of getting more on the player acquisition side of things. I really, really wanted that. So I didn’t want to, I knew I was going to be in an all-boys club, so I wanted to give them no reason to tell me no. Yeah. I mean they, they did lots, but that’s, I’m sure we’ll get there. Huh. So you really wanted to just get as many tools ready so that when you got to that point you had everything possible?
06:14 Yeah, I wanted the cards stacked in my favor and I, after law school I went to get my MBA just for that reason. But I, I mean I still got tons of rejection letters. Yeah. Naturally. Naturally. So, so you, you went through, you, did you wind up going to Nashville at all? I did not. I did not. I went straight to law school. I moved to Boston and went to new England school of law. Hmm. Okay. What was the law school like? To be honest, I think that law school for me was the first time I really put my nose to the grindstone. In college I certainly had a lot of fun. I wasn’t the super studious type. I was very social. And I enjoyed that time of my life. Those are some of the best friends still to this day, my life.
06:58 And everybody’s college experience is different. I mean, my sister, her, her closest friends are from high school. And so that just, that’s just what it was for me. And so law school was my kind of kick in the ass moment for myself and just really taking advantage of the opportunity that I had. Law school is hard for me. I’m not, I’m not naturally gifted. I’m not overly smart. I am just a hard worker and that’s always been the case with me. Nothing’s really come easy. I just, I just grind it until I figure it out. Yeah. You’re laser focused and, but in the effort to make sure you can actually make it happen. Absolutely. In law school, yes. What, what came next? What was on your mind really as you were wrapping up your law degree? What were you interested in? You know, I was spending a lot of summers.
07:51 I’m trying to just get into the sports world, every opportunity I had. Even in college during the summers I was working into minor league park. I was, you know, I lived in Columbus and worked as an intern helping the Columbus blue jackets their first year. I just was willing to go and work for free for anybody that would take me. And I knew the challenge. I knew how hard it was gonna be to get into the world of sports. And so even during law school, I would spend my summers in Baltimore or working for a Cal Ripkin rape game management design organization, kind of a subsidiary of, of Ripkin baseball. Okay. And that was an amazing experience. You know, so often interns, that word means you’re just shuffling paper or just, you know, you’re not doing a lot at the Ripken experience. I was with two other interns.
08:41 We were truly building a company and I don’t think to this day they realize how much we were actually doing. Wow. Yeah. And it was just the three of us and we were all interns and then we all went back a second summer. It was mind blowing. I mean so much what I learned during that experience carries with me today. Hmm. No, that’s fascinating. Cause like you were willing, you knew it was going to be tough to get in regardless, but then you had the commitment to your vision to say, screw it, I’ll work for free. Yeah. I got a summer, Tammy absolutely in. I was willing to go wherever the wind would take me. That’s how I ended up in Detroit. Huh. So, so you’re working at the Ripkin group. What sort of stuff were you working on? It was very cool stuff. So I remember having to put together proposals for municipalities kind of RFQ and I, we had no idea what we were doing and we just, I feel like we didn’t have a lot of the tools that we have today.
09:43 We just did it. And the two other people that were there with me or all so incredible and hardworking too, we learned a lot about territorial rights and baseball. And I think that was kind of the focus area that I took on just from my interest in law school. And we would make proposals about acquiring maybe a merely your independent team and where should we move them? Where can we move them? Do you have a stadium? If you have a stadium and you need it refurbished, we have these preferred vendors that we’d come in and just kind of building out these. And it was so beginning stages of this company and now running my own company, I am. It’s really incredible what we were doing with, none of us had any experienced yet. But I think it just goes to show that, and I’m a firm believer in this, that the right person is a hard worker.
10:34 They can learn anything. That’s awesome. So I’m super fascinated in this because I’m going back and I’m like even more saying it out loud, I’m like, I cannot believe we were doing this stuff. That’s what we were doing. And one thing that really underlines your experience up to this point was a lot of times nowadays with the frankly abundance of information that we have available, a lot of times we ask ourselves like, Oh crap, how do we start? And we get stuck with that. How do I start? How do I do this? And, and really you, you at that time looked at it and said, would you just start, just do it, just do it. And I think that’s, that will give myself a lot of credit for, I don’t usually do that, but I do tend to just put one foot in front of the other and not look like way down the road of how the heck are we going to accomplish this?
11:22 It’s just like, well, today we got to do this and it’s going to get us to this and today I’m just going to start a company. I worry about growing it as we go, but I don’t think that way. I think, well, I’m going to start a company and it’s going to employ women. Okay, let’s do it. Let’s do it. And if I, and I’m grateful that I don’t have, because if I did or if I started thinking about the numbers and the accounting and all this, I would never do anything. You’d get frozen, I would phrase I would phrase. So you’re, that’s awesome. I love that. Good or bad. I don’t know. I don’t know if it’s or not. I’m sure my accountant would be like, wow, maybe we a revisit your thought process circle. So, so, so you’re in law school, you’re sort of doing everything you can to get exposed to the sports world.
12:07 Yes. Did you know you wanted to go back for your MBA or what did that, what was behind that shift? Yeah, it really, I mean it was early on in law school and I was like, okay, I’m going to do this, I’m going to get my MBA afterwards. There were lots of joint programs popping up and luckily there’s a school very close to where I was going to law school called Suffolk university in Boston and they would honor my law credits so I could do an, an expedited MBA and I was like this, if I can get in, this is a no brainer, I’m just going to keep going. And that’s what I did. So what did you study in law school? You know, law school is unique in the sense that you don’t really get in focus area. It just trains your brain how to think differently and you really become a specialist when you find a job. Okay. Once you’re actually in points, you’re in practice. And it just, I mean, and then you can sort of kind of gear, well I’m maybe interested in this, how do I learn more? And then find somebody to sort of mentor you. But they don’t really teach it a whole heck of a lot of that in law school. I mean, yeah, it really, it’s, it’s just more
13:14 How do you, how do you issue spot? I think that’s one of my biggest takeaways from law school is that I just trained my brain to be like, wait, that could be, I could be a problem. Don’t know what the answer is, but I know that that is that same question to ask. Exactly. Huh. So how did that compare to, to your MBA? It’s very different really. Yeah. I, you know, law school is so analytical and feel that businesses, so solutions oriented. I, and I can’t say which necessarily liked better. I think I liked my MBA program better. I think that is more my brain. I actually don’t think I’m the best attorney per se in the sense that I just, I like to solve problems. I definitely like to a lot of attorneys can handle the gray area. I like to be a little more
14:02 The answer driven. You’d like to find the right answer. Yes. So then when you say more solution oriented, what does that mean? I guess in the sense that I, if there’s a problem out there and I’m involved in it, I want to solve it, I want to know how to get, I mean, just even on a day to day basis, my team will say the same thing. Like I can’t walk away from problems that are unsolved and they encouraged me to go home and sleep on it cause I know it’s not healthy, but I think that’s just how, how my brain operates is that I like to just constantly be moving forward and it means we have to close this chapter, we have to solve this problem and then we’ll see what tomorrow brings because that problem was going to pop back up. Oh, for sure.
14:44 For sure. Okay. So you’re, you’re in the MBA, you’re in, you’re doing your MBA. Did you have a specific focus while you were in your master’s? I think I did. Okay. I asked a good question. I don’t remember if I did or not. Okay. So then what, what did that, as you ended your now, how long was your college career at that point? Oh my gosh. Someone just asked me this the other day I went to, I mean, it’s a lot of school. It’s a lot of schools, seven years of, of higher ed. How law school is three. This was a year and a half. So yeah, four and a half plus plus college. Yeah, about eight and a half and a half. Wow. So you’re going now from school to trying to, you know, do what you want to do for the rest of your life.
15:30 What was that like? You know, I think it gave me I was grinding so much like I was studying so much studying around the clock that when I definitely went into the right field wall, I should say that like, I mean, getting, going straight into baseball is, I don’t know how it worked out for me. I couldn’t get a job. I couldn’t land an opportunity. I was begging to work for free for any team that would take me. And so it certainly kept me persistently. I think I’m a persistent personality. But that, you know, I had several people, one guy, I thought it was going to be an incredible mentor for me. I was so excited to sit down and meet with him and I told him my dreams of working in sports, particularly, you know, wanting to be a GM or on the player acquisition side.
16:21 And he said, I literally laughed out loud and he said, honey, you’re best bet is just to marry a player. Wow. I know. And so every I remember that and I just said, wow, I, I, I respectfully disagree. And I just walked out. Like I just turned around and I mean, I was so only because I wasn’t shocked at what he said. That was, I was getting a lot of that, like, you’re crazy. No way. And the fact he was just somebody I was leaning on to be a mentor, so I wasn’t expecting it from him. I just walked out and then I went back to my apartment and I remember sending out five more resumes. Like I just kind of, I use it to feel my fire, say I want to prove this guy wrong, you know? And, and whether that’s a good or bad, that’s just what I did.
17:13 And so then for, I made it a practice that, you know, while I was finishing my school for every rejection letter I received, I would send out, you know, three more. That’s awesome. That is awesome. And that’s what, that’s what landed me here. Huh. So then what, what brought you to Detroit? How’d you, how’d you wind up here? And to be honest, I, if Jordan failed, if you’re listening to this, you’ll find this funny, but in parts there was a little bit of a white lie. And also I just stay on top of the game. So I was, I had three rejection letters from the tigers and I would follow up regularly. I mean it’s just, I would put it on my calendar to do and there is a fine line between annoying the heck out of somebody and being persistent.
18:08 And I certainly respected after working in sports too because there were some other people out there like me who I had so much compassion for because I get it. But you know, your days are a lot longer than when you’re actually in the work world. Right. So it’s not top of mind to respond to all the intern requests that we receive. Yeah. However, for the person reaching out as an intern there waiting with bated breath to see whether or not they’re going to get life. Exactly. And I was there, I saw, I get it. So anyway, having both sides now, you know, there is a certainly a fine line of being persistent versus annoying. And I don’t know at the time where I fell, but long story short, I had three rejection letters from the tigers. A lot of people telling me that I was overqualified for the internships and I knew that that’s how I needed to get in.
18:56 Finding a job in sports is really hard cause usually it’s hired from internal. And so I just kept applying and like, no, let me, if I’m applying for an internship, that means I’m willing to do it. But the problem is where I was living. I, at the time I, I hadn’t moved around. I, I’d finished school and was, you know, I did a little stint for a law firm and then I had to come back and help a family company or our family company for a little bit. Okay. So I was living in Columbus, so Boston back to Columbus. Yeah. And that’s not where I’m from. That’s just where the family company is. I’m from Jamestown, New York, but was there I, yeah, but I was there and still applying and but I know especially how sports scenes work, that if there’s even a thought of them having to relocate you, they won’t do it.
19:38 Right. Especially for an intern level. That’s, yeah, they’re all local. They don’t want to spend money on heard off. Absolutely unheard of. So I was like, I got to get in front of these people. That’s, that’s my number one ML. So another opportunity came up with the tigers and they said, okay, let’s do a call. I was like, no, no calls, no more calls. I can’t because I’m losing out. I feel like if I would just, and no one remembers a call, you don’t, you don’t remember a call. And I said, you know, it just so happens I’m going to be visiting my sister love to come in cause I just made sure I scheduled the time at the call and I was telling you, Oh, I’m going to be there. So can we meet in person? I said, sure. Yeah, come on in.
20:16 And actually there was like third or fourth time I’d done that. I was broke cause I was full spending my money. I remember flying to Atlanta, I said the same thing, you know, I’m just going to be in town. I wasn’t, I just wanted to get in front of them. So anyway, I drove to Detroit and as situation would have it, the gentleman in front of me was very much, had a similar story to me and going to law school, wanting to work in sports, start as an intern, climbed his way up and he said, you remind me a lot of me. And he’s like, yeah, well will he be a shot? Wow. And he’s like, where are you going to live? And again, I knew if I said I had to move here, they would have not considered me, or at least that’s what I was afraid of.
20:57 And my sister was living in Lance and going to law school at the time, I was like, Oh, I’ll just live with her and commute. And they’re like, okay, good enough. And then that’ll work. It’ll work. Which wasn’t the case. I just moved here and I had all inflatable mattresses and packed my entire life up into my mini Cooper and drove here. And that’s as much as I had with fitting the mini Cooper. Huh. That’s so, it’s, it’s interesting. And you, you kind of point out this line between persistent and annoying for someone who’s trying to be persistent, how, how can they find where that line is?
21:33 You know what I think is a healthy, I, I still do this to this day, you know, if I follow up and I maybe don’t hear anything or I put a reminder on my calendar for three months out and I say, okay, just follow up with this person. And I gave it three tries and it may be a year and a half, you know, but and I think maybe that’s a little bit longer time cause the business world works a lot slower when versus when you’re looking for a job. But I will say because of that, I is now in my adult life, how many opportunities have come because of that? You know, they, you’re, and I think that’s important. I think it shows hustle. So I mean, you know, maybe if you’re in the intern looking for an intern or looking for an opportunity, he’ll, people want to be reminded.
22:22 People especially today, want to see, want to see a fire. I want to see a hustle, I want to see that determination. I mean I man, as I would be blown away if I saw somebody with a, I don’t, I don’t see it that much anymore. And so that’s just like you know, find out when the job is, see if he can get in front of the person. I, I am a firm believer of that. I understand that there may maybe finances and it’s not the absolute [inaudible] I respect that. But if you can meet with that person, do it because they will way more remember you then versus a phone call. Yeah. You actually have the ability when you’re in person to make that connection and Intuit builds a lot more trust between you and that person. Absolutely. When you’re on the phone, like they, they could be wearing a tee shirt and jeans or they could be in a full tox and you would never know what’s going on.
23:14 But if you have them in front of you, you can kind of feed off each other and you can feel that. I can relate a lot more. Not to mention, they’re probably talking to you, responding to emails, reading a contract like while they’re on the phone with you versus if you’re there, they’re going to give you the time and it’s going to be reading the contract. They’re not, they’re not. So that’s what I, that’s what I would encourage. And I think if you can do that and you know, you have a higher likelihood of success and then just follow up. I was talking to some people about this the other day about my age. Yeah. I used to do handwritten follow-up
23:51 And we were talking about is that necessary anymore? There was, it was hard line down the middle. It was like 50, 50 split. Some think that an email follow up is perfectly fine. I know today that if I got, if someone took the time to write me a handwritten note, I all of a sudden also going to the top of the list. Like in my brain. I will remember that that takes time in a day when we, in a time when we are constantly going, moving fast. If you can pause and just say thank you with a handwritten note.
24:24 Goes very, very far. That’s how I got one of my first guests. See? Yeah, I sent him, I sent him a letter, they launched a new podcast that was in like the personal finance world. And I wrote a hand, wrote a letter and just said, Hey, I appreciate you. I appreciate the book you wrote. Just, you know, thank you. And that’s it. And then, you know, a year and a half later when I launched this,
24:47 Hey, you got some free time. That’s amazing. And yeah, it’s crazy. It is. And it’s something, it’s a, it’s a lost art. Writing is a lost art. I myself am, I, I don’t do it as, as nearly as often as I should, but I think that that’s, especially if you’re in that phase of wanting, like really wanting a job and how do, how do you make yourself memorable? Those are great ways to do it that aren’t annoying. And it shows dedication and it shows that you’re persistent, shows that you care. Yeah. Love it. So what, was there something specific about the Detroit tigers? They were like, yup, I don’t want that tape. No, not at all. I was willing to go to, I have rejection letters from almost every team in baseball. Huh. I was willing to go wherever the wind blew me and the wind blew my ear.
25:41 I have zero ties to the city when I came here. I mean, no, I’ve been here 13 years. I’ve got a family here. I’m very rooted in the community, but I didn’t know a soul, not even like a third cousin that could maybe help me. I didn’t know a person. And you know, thinking about when I moved here was 2007 no one was moving to Detroit. Not, I mean, I got my first month’s rent free for living downtown. I mean, they, nobody was here. I think I looked out my window and a 60% of the skyline in Detroit was vacant at the time. I would walk to work at any point in time. I mean, you could fire a cannon down Woodward and not hit a sole, not hit a one person. Wow. So yeah, Detroit wasn’t, and it wasn’t awful. My writers just wasn’t on my radar and I, I just was willing to go wherever.
26:35 Wow. Okay. So, so you land this gig finally. Were you an intern at that point was, I came in as an intern in community. So then what, did you stay there for a long time? Did you work up through the ranks? Well, I did. I, so I, I, I’m, I’m grateful for the boss that I had Jordan for giving me the opportunity and I was constantly seeking new things. But here’s, this is some advice I was giving this to. One of the ladies who works with me, you know? Yes. Being an intern in community affairs with a JD and MBA isn’t, isn’t attract most people go. I felt it was a fairly important, I was really willing to clean toilets. Just let me get a foot in the door and show you what I can do. And as much as that was important, it was also very important to do my job and do it well.
27:26 So I wanted to be the best intern that Jordan ever had. Yes. Did I know that I could do more things? Sure. But I wasn’t, I wasn’t above doing what was required of me as an intern. And so I would just make sure I would do everything. And then I would say, Jordan, I’ve got some ideas. What if we could do this? Does this help you? If I can track it this way or like just trying to wait and make things better and more efficient. And then once I would do that, I would, you know, maybe my Workday would end done. I would go and have conversations with other departments who had talk to marketing. I would stay late. I was there through every single game even when I didn’t have to be and say, you know, Hey, do you guys need help over here?
28:07 How can I help you guys? And just really learning the industry. But I stressed it was super important to do the job that you had really well. Cause I think a lot of people go in and they’re like, okay, I mean now how do I get up? You still got to do your job. Yeah. You, you knew what you were brought there to do and you knew the only path forward was to do it as well as possible. And then around the fringes when you had that extra time when you were there anyways, like you said, you had no ties here when you came here. So you were, you had that freedom and that ability to do anything and everything it took. Yup. So did you stay as an intern for your entire time there and no, thankfully I moved up pretty quickly through the ranks at, at the tigers and I’m fortunate for that.
28:54 I was an intern for a short period of time. Then I became coordinator of community affairs, then I moved over to manager of sponsorship services and then became associate counsel about five years into working at the tigers and a position that they created for me. Talk about job stability. Yeah. And it was, it was, it was great. I learned a ton. And at the time I was I still wanted to dabble on the you know, player acquisition side of things. So I remember specifically, I had a great boss at the time, Steve arms’, another tremendous mentor for me and I, one night I was working really late, I always worked. I worked my tail off and I was leaving and our general manager was there, a guy named Dave Dombrowski and I saw the lights were on and it was like, Oh man, I don’t know if I should do, I mean, I was, I was low on the totem pole at the time.
29:59 You don’t really look senior level people in the eye at this time and the culture. And I walked past his office and I was like, yeah, screw it. I’m going to go back in. And so I just knocked. I said, Dave, do you have a few minutes? I said, yeah, come on in. And, and to Dave’s credit, he knew, he knows everybody in the organization. You just was that kind of guy. I said, Dave, what does it take to be you? You know, what would you recommend for someone like me and this is what I’m doing? And he said, well I’ve got some ideas, you know, you need to need to learn the value of a player. And he’s like, you have a law degree, don’t you Amy, as I do. They said, well, I know we’re really busy with arbitration this year. The term morning come in early.
30:44 And then she, she to our general counsel and he’ll, they need help on arbitration this year. I said, Oh my God, yeah, be in, I’ll be in. So I came in early and I met John and, and another guy, Mike and I said, I’m here to help. And they said, okay, here you go. Let me just like through a stack of papers. I mean, I honestly, I had no idea. I didn’t really have, I didn’t have a ton of support on how to do it. I really had to reverse engineer it. And this is one of those situations where I, I still had a full time job. It was, I was manager of sponsorship services. And so my boss at the time, I said, I really want to do this. I want to learn. How do I do this? Yeah. And he said, Amy, go for it, but you still have to do your job.
31:29 I said, okay. So he’s like from nine to five your mind any time after that do what you want to do it too. So I would literally, I would work nine to five and then five o’clock I would shift hats and I would just teach. I would reverse engineer all these arbitration cases and I would be there until two, three in the morning, every weekend. And this was during the off season a baseball is when arbitration occurs. I just, I taught myself how to build an arbitration case. Huh. And I wish I had had more support. I mean certainly I wish that there was a little more like guidance, but it is what it is. And, and I did that for three years. Hmm. Okay. Sacrifice a ton. A ton of family time and ton of relationships. That was normal. That was very normal. So then, no, you didn’t stay at the tigers forever, correct?
32:17 I didn’t. I didn’t. What sort of led you toward moving in different directions? While I was at the tigers, I had started rebel Nell. And I think rebel Nell was a great outlet for some of, you know, maybe a frustrations I had with kind of being a woman in the industry and, and not not getting a lot of of guidance that I was really seeking. Okay. And so I was also having to be living right next door to a shelter in Detroit called cots at the time. So when I would walk my dog, I’d have conversations with these women and they are truly incredible women and I was so inspired by their perseverance of sometimes they left really challenging situations to go to the shelter and start all over again. Yeah. so in 2013 while I was still at the tigers, that’s when I started rebel Nell and it was just going to be a side project and kind of put it in perspective.
33:14 You know, Detroit was right in the middle of it bankruptcy. There was a lot of grassroots stuff happening and I thought, I want to be a part of that. I don’t, I don’t know how, I don’t know how I’m going to fit into this. I don’t have a ton of time, but my business partner and I decided, well, we’ll have, what if we could start this little company that would teach a woman to fish? What the heck does that look like? Hmm. And so rebel Noah was born in 2013 while I was still there at the tigers and then I did it for about five years until 2018. Oh, all right. 2017, 2017. Okay. And then I I thought that my love of what I was doing it rebel Nell, you know, a lot of social justice stuff combined with sports. So this opportunity came up at rise, which is the Ross initiative in sports free quality.
34:05 Cause like, I’m going to go try that. This is perfect. So the opportunity presented itself to go do that and I thought that’s would be a happy landing place. And I was there and great people working at rise. But while I was there, I just had this really internal tug to go do rebel. No. And so I finally, I was afraid to give up sports. To be honest. I was really afraid is something I fought so hard to get into. And to walk away was not first nature for me. But I will say when I did take the leap in August of last year, I, I haven’t looked back, which I’m also very surprised about. So as a quick aside, how did you come up with the name rebel bell? Where did that come from? Great, thanks. We you know, we wanted to pay tribute to a trailblazing woman who had come before us.
34:53 Okay. Diana and I really love Eleanor Roosevelt and everything. She stood for incredible human civil rights advocate, women’s rights advocates and let me have the time. And when she was standing for these things, it’s just remarkable. In her nickname that her dad gave her was a little, now we thought, Oh, she’s deserving a much stronger nickname. We’ll call her rebel. Now. We also believe that everyone we employ is rebelling against what life’s dealt them. And we’re dealing with falling graffiti, which is a rebellious art form. Huh. I didn’t know itself. So that’s how we got our name. Sort of like the perfect cocktail. Yeah. Yeah. It really, it’s like we love her name. In fact we’re celebrating Illinois his birthday this Friday. Oh, awesome. Yeah. Neat. So it all kind of came around. So you decided to finally pull the plug and, and really go all in on rebel now.
35:53 Yes. What’s it been like building a company from 2013 all the way to now? I, I think when we first started I encouraged my business partner to come on full time as well. I think we both are in shock of how in the hell we did both at the same time. Like we worked another job and had rebel now because now we spend every waking moment on rebel now and still there’s a ton of hours in a day. But I been, I truly love it. I, I, I love what I do. It is without question, some most stressed, stressful job I’ve ever had. Still those hours I worked. And that’s saying a lot coming from baseball, most intense hours. I’ve worked, right. A lot of baseball. You just have to sit there and be a part of the game. But this is like every minute, every email, everything is so passion driven.
36:47 It’s mentally and emotionally and training. Yes. And, and we’re, you know, in the population we serve is, it’s, it’s frustrating and not, not that they’re frustrating, just how broken the system is in. It’s just so it’s so draining. But I love it and all that crazy, crazy brain of mine. I really, truly love it. So what, what does rebel Nell do? So we provide employment opportunities for women with barriers. So we work with local shelters and we hired directly out of the shelter and we hire refugees. Women who are homeless for any reason. Usually it’s bigger events that have happened in their lives and or our returning citizens formally incarcerated. And we provide them not only with employment and we teach them how to make jewelry out of graffiti that we collect once it falls off the walls. But we also provide all the wraparound support that they need to then help transition them to a more independent life.
37:50 So we do financial literacy, business education, life falls, wellness, housing, resources. We do a really deep dive to tackle like a lot of the barriers that have been prohibitive in the past and help take them to the next level and then they’ll graduate. So we graduate them into more sustainable jobs. Cause we like to think of it, we’ve gotten them to a place where they can breathe again. Yeah. You’re, you’re there to help not hold their hand but help guide them and work with them through very, very challenging point in their life. Yeah. Yeah. And it’s, it’s not easy and it’s not, and I think sometimes we, we get frustrated cause it’s not as much changes. Sometimes we want to see or, or maybe it is, I, we’ve had some incredible stories and those are the, the adrenaline rush that keep us going. But you know, to try and reverse generations of, of challenges is hard to do in a two year period, let alone when job.
38:49 Yeah. Well we’re trying. We’re certainly giving it our all. Now, how did, how’d you come up with making jewelry out of fallings? I know it’s the weirdest thing. I know my story is so bizarre, bizarre. But we are also unique in the sense that rebel, no, our business was started with the mission first. Well that’s what we, we knew we had no product when we just were like, Oh, we’re going to start a company teaches a woman to finish it. Yeah, we’re gonna have to make something, but we don’t know what yet. This is when we get there. We’ll get there. I do not recommend that. Really? No, no. But in some ways, shape or form, it’s also been clarifying in the, in the sense that we always know who we are. Like if we’re not doing something that’s making these, the lives of these women better, it doesn’t make any sense.
39:40 So it’s like you had your priority out of the gate, the rest you needed to fit to that mall. Absolutely. And we have made a lot of adjustments in our company around that to make sure that that is that’s, that’s our focus. But the product and we wanted it to be Detroit centric. I mean, Diana and I have very to say we have jewelry making background at all is, is unfair to true jewelers out there. She took a couple of classes at Wayne state. I had a side jewelry business when I was in law school. Go with what, you know, it was really a common denominator and not after a ton of study, we’re just like, yeah, cool to try jewelry on it, let’s make it, and we, we didn’t know what we were. I mean, all sorts of crazy ideas.
40:26 Then one day I was running on the cut, saw some graffiti. It was just laying on the ground. I thought, wow, that’s kind of cool. Let me do something with this. And then we could see the layers. And so then we just started prototyping. Took us about four months to get a product that we were really confident enough to wear. And yeah, the rest is sort of history. So do you just walk around and pick up scraps of feeding? I mean, nowadays we have so much in inventory, which is great. We have people who bring it to us. We have people who mail it to us. I have some coming in from Baltimore next week. We had some shipped to us from Chicago. Yeah. It’s so it’s like crowdsourcing or materials. Yeah. And it’s, we have large quantity of, so we don’t, we, we go out every now and then, but not nearly as much as we used to.
41:18 And then we’re now we’re doing some fun things. And so it’s kind of weird how life goes in a weird circle that comes back around. Yeah. So we just launched a F last Friday, a partnership with the Detroit Redwings. Hmm. I mean, it’s like, wait, really? Like that. I never see you when I started rolling, how it would really weave its way back. But it did. And it’s been one of the most successful things we’ve ever done to date. Where I saw a bunch of the Joe Lewis that was just, it was literally the red paint was all over the ground. I drove by one day when they were starting to deconstruct it and I called my staff and I was like, someone get a broom and a box, meet me here. Like I sent them a pin and they did and we just swept up all this red paint and I was like, Oh, this is cool.
42:10 I called the Redwings just like I got an idea, let’s help raise money for the red wings foundation, but also give rebel Nell and some some headlines here and it’s been very successful so far. We sold out in a very short amount of time last Friday cheese, and I’ll admit I’m a wing nut and I saw that come up and that was easily one of the coolest collaborations. Yeah. So what’s, what are some of the things that that really took you off guard about running your own business? Hmm, gosh. So where do I start? Then I could talk for hours just on this topic alone. Yeah, clearly I tapped into something like, ah, where do I start? What are some things, I mean, it’s funny, I joke, I joke and this is a total joke, but I say it all the time that I, I think I’d have an insanely successful business if I didn’t have to deal with employees and customers how much diamond energy employees require and, and customers as well.
43:14 But we are striving to constantly be better. And I, I love that about my team. I love that about, I frankly like it about myself. I love it about Diana. Like we want to always be better. I think to be successful, you need to check your ego at the door. I think the ego can be the biggest downfall of so many entrepreneurs, but you have to realize that so many people who have done it better, they’re smarter, they have ideas. You need to listen to them and take it with a grain of salt. Sure. Of course. You know your business best, but be very open to, to those kinds of, of feedback. It seems you’re, you’re more working for your employees than them working for you. Yeah, and especially the, our model, our model is that way. We, we are serving two customers.
44:02 We have not only the customers that purchase our jewelry, but we also have our, the women that we serve. And so how do we do the best for them as well? So it’s a very interesting model. It’s a very challenging model. I have a incredible respect for people who do this type of social enterprise. And I define social enterprise for me different across the board. But for me, it’s those who take the time and energy to employ a challenged, challenged workforce. Because it’s really hard. It’s really hard and you have to be understanding. You have to accept the challenges that they have and how do you work with them and, and understand what they’re going to, it’s a lot of empathy, but eh, but then with all of that, like you’re sacrificing business, right? You’re, you’re sacrificing production because you want to help them grow.
44:57 You want to help them take classes. They’re paid to take the classes that we offer. So every time they’re doing that, then they’re not making jewelry in how do you make this work and scale? It’s, it’s a very complex model. The bottom line isn’t your bottom line. Right. And as I say, it’s a triple bottom line, which is so hard to follow. But but there’s, yes, there’s lots of them and all in all, you still have to make money. Cause if you are not, if you’re not producing, if you’re not selling, you’re not helping anybody. I don’t know how to business. Yeah. So it, it’s hard. It’s a very, very, very, very hard model. So I think with that we should, we should kind of use that cause that’s a great spot to jump into the second portion of our show. Okay.
45:41 So what are some of the key takeaways that you found from your career and your project so far of Mike [inaudible]? Say that again? What are some of the key takeaways from your career or projects so far of my career? I true. I, you know, I know this is sounds a little bit cheesy, but I believe I’m, I’m a very tenacious person and I that’s, I love the name of your podcast for that reason. I, I, I hate, I have it in me. It’s grown that with each, no, you get tougher with each other. I don’t think that’s gonna work out. You, you walk a little taller and that’s, it’s not easy and it’s, it’s something you gotta takes time, takes practice, takes a lot of energy. But that, that, that is something that I certainly have learned over time and breathes through those moments because they can be really debilitating.
46:43 But you know, I always believe when one door closes, another door opens and it may not be exactly what you’re looking for, but you should always take a look inside, always peek inside that door. Cause I’m surprised at what I’ve been like, no way. Heck no. That’s, I’m not even sure I should respond to that email. And then it ends up being one of the coolest things or collaborations. And that’s the only thing I always respond to emails, no matter who it is. I’m a big believer in that. Unless it’s so outlandish when we do have a few of those that it’s like, I don’t even, I can’t go down this rabbit hole, but I mean everybody who reaches out I think is really important. And as you grow in your career, remember that you were there at some point in time. Can we take, I’ll, I’ll do any interview. Like I think it’s really important even from the, the high school paper on up. I just think that everybody deserves a response. That’s the one thing I got out of the tigers. I will say they required, you know, a hundred percent response rate. Wow. So what piece of advice would you give to your 20 year old self?
47:55 It’s going to be okay. I feel like some of this is, I’m still giving myself today. It’s going to be okay. Treat yourself kind
48:15 And try not to get so frustrated in the dark moments. This is definitely a theme there, but yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s life as a weird balancing act and I haven’t figured it out yet. I don’t know the answer. I am a work in progress and I’m sure that there’s a lot of stuff. I’m gonna regret that I’m doing now 10 years from now. And so there’s this balance of I truly believe you have to work hard and I do believe there is some formula for self care. I just don’t know what it is, but I don’t think you should come into a job asking for self care right off the bat in a weird way. Does that make sense? Yeah. You should be. You should be willing to sacrifice if it’s for your bigger picture. Yeah. Yes. I love it. What is one book or resource that you’ve found that has helped you on your journey?
49:06 Traction. Traction is an amazing book. I recommend it all over the place. Okay. it particularly if you have a business and you’re trying to figure out how to scale it, it was a game changer for my business partner and I love it. And where can people learn more about you and your story? Oh, to learn about me and rebel now it’s like all, all over the rebel nell.com and I have a LinkedIn page, but actually share how much is on there. Okay. But yeah, certainly, certainly go to rebel nell.com. Love it. Amy Peterson, you are the vow CEO of rebel Nell. You have been for a little bit now. Thanks for coming on the show. Thank you for having me.