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March 2022 Small Business Spotlight: Rebel Nell

An interview with Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program alumna Amy Peterson, co-founder and CEO of Rebel Nell in Detroit.

First things first – tell us briefly who you are and what you do. My name is Amy Peterson. I am the co-founder and CEO of Rebel Nell. Rebel Nell began in 2013 with the mission to provide employment, equitable opportunity, and wraparound support for women with barriers to employment. By repurposing meaningful materials into wearable art, we mark life's important moments and connect them to your personal journey. We seek to embolden women, to embrace their infinite strength, and to define their own future. Our jewelry serves as a reminder that there is power in being ONE OF NO OTHER KIND.

How has your perspective on negotiations changed? One of the biggest learnings is to appreciate where you land if the end result of the negotiation is what you set out to achieve. You need to remember what you wanted to achieve, and if you reach that goal, that is a successful negotiation.

What were you surprised to learn about yourself from the negotiation's module? How much I enjoy negotiating. I think a good negotiation is where everyone walks away happy.

How do you prepare for negotiations? I like to think like the other party in the negotiation. What would be advantageous for them? What can I come to the table with that would benefit their interests as well as mine? I am in a very saturated industry, so I have to set myself apart from others. If I think only of my interests, I will never get a deal done.

Name 3 words that describe your negotiation style. Honest, transparent, and persistent

How do you stay motivated when faced with challenges and uncertainty? I have a new mantra this year "Breathe, Have Fun and Live." It is nothing profound, but it is helping me stay focused on what is important in life. Running a business will always have its challenging moments but the past few years have provided a new perspective.

When the moments are hard, just breathe we will get through it just like every other moment that was paralyzing at the time. It is hard to see the forest through the trees in difficult moments. Have fun, life is too short.

I love what I do, and I love my business. COVID reduced my love for the business, but I have gained it back. Live your best life, put one foot in front of the other and trust the process. Things will work out the way they are supposed to work out.

What is your process for making a crucial business decision? I like to get to a point where I feel like I have about 75% of the information I need to make a decision and then I pull the trigger. I am not one who overthinks decisions.

How do you nurture and grow your relationships while running a business? Relationships are everything. I believe being good at business means maintaining your relationships. I like to make time to connect with people when there isn't a business agenda involved. Not everything has to be about business. It can just be about connecting with people on a deeper level.

What does the word empathy mean to you and how is it beneficial in a negotiation? Empathy makes you a better negotiator because it allows you to understand where the other party is coming from, allowing you to understand what they want.

What has been your biggest learning from the pandemic? To pause and realize that every day is a gift. Time with loved ones is never guaranteed, but work will always be there. Take the time and spend it with those who matter.

Finish this sentence: “The one thing I can’t live without is my son.”

What is a piece of advice you wish you could give your younger self? Trust the process, it will all be ok. You are strong, loved, confident, and amazing

With all the distractions in our daily lives, how do you stay present and engaged? As a business owner, it is easy to be in a constant state of worry. I completely lost myself last year and was in a dark place. I went on a retreat, and it helped me reset and actually find my present state. Prior to that I didn't understand what people meant when they would say "be present". It also got me into meditation. Even five minutes a day, meditation can provide a good reminder of what to focus on during the day.

What is your favorite quote? Be bold and courageous. When you look back on your life, you’ll regret the things you didn’t do more than the ones you did - H. Jackson Brown Jr.

For more information on Rebel Nell, visit:

editor's note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.


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