Diana Russell – Co-Founder of Rebel Nell
In 2007 Diana received her bachelor’s degree in Fashion Merchandising from Wayne State University, in Detroit. In an effort to grow her career in the fashion industry Diana moved to Chicago, where she enjoyed the demands of living in a big city. After two years in the ‘Windy City’ she moved home and challenged herself to seek out new experiences.
In March of 2013, during a night out with friends, Diana learned of Amy Peterson’s idea to employ, educate and empower women in need. She loved the idea and decided that she wanted to help her friend succeed in launching her new business. The pair immediately starting working to develop the brand and her intention to “help” gradually turned into a deeper, more meaningful role. Diana and Amy realized early on that their skill-sets were complementary in every way; Diana contributed a strong knowledge of the retail industry and a creative background that would help Rebel Nell’s jewelry
Why did you decide to build a business within your industry?
My business partner, Amy, lives next door to Coalition on Temporary Shelter (COTS)
. While walking her dog she often spoke with the women residing in COTS. She learned of their stories and realized that often these women made a choice to leave an unsafe situation in an effort to better their future. Amy came up with the idea of making jewelry as a means of giving women in need a transitional opportunity. I absolutely loved the idea and the passion Amy had for her idea. I had to be a part of it!
What is one productivity life hack that you use all the time?
I can’t think of any life hacks that I actually use. I must be living life the hard way!
What are 3 online tools that you cannot live without?
I have to keep myself organized with Evernote
I have a full-time job in addition to Rebel Nell so it is often difficult to answer and respond to phone calls. Email allows me the freedom to respond at a time that works for me. Typically, the time that’s best for me is not good for those I’m responding to…very late nights, early morning and weekends.
The Facebook Pages app allows me to stay in touch with social media at all times. I’m home so infrequently that I need to be able make posts and respond while on the go.
What are some obstacles you face as an online e-commerce store?
E-commerce is difficult at times. I do not know how to code so one glitch in the system can throw our whole website offline until our IT guy can fix it for us. One moment offline feels like forever!
How do you market your site?
Amy and I reach out to anyone willing to listen to our story. We also do our best to respond to all press inquiries that come our way. We rely 100% on sales in order to keep our business sustainable. Without marketing and sales we would not be able to achieve our mission of employing, educating and empowering disadvantaged women.
How are you and your company giving back to the community?
We work with COTS in order to employ disadvantaged women in Detroit. We currently have three employees that we’ve been working with for almost a year. In addition to employment, we work with various others to help us accomplish our mission of educating and empowering these ladies. As an example, our team meets with a financial adviser once a month. In the course of working together our ladies have learned about budget plans and have all set up Simple IRA Plans.
We’re so fortunate to have had great success this past year. Because our customers have been so supportive we’re able to hire an additional two team members before the end of the year. We’re really looking forward to expanding our team!
Walk us through a day in the life of Diana Russell. What is the most difficult part about owning your own business?
A day in my life consists of a lot of work because I have a full-time job in addition to Rebel Nell. A common day looks like this:
6:30-8: Wake up, get ready for my full-time job, commute to work
12-1: Eat lunch and respond to Rebel Nell emails
5-6: Commute home
6-10: Work at Rebel Nell
10-6:30: Sleep and repeat
The most difficult thing about owning a business is successfully managing a work/life balance. It’s very easy to get caught up in work because as an entrepreneur there is ALWAYS something to do.
Who has been the biggest influence on your life?
My mom and my Aunt Sharon have been the biggest influence on me.
What lessons did that person teach you?
My mom has a huge heart and is always willing to put others before herself. She is also the hardest working person I know. Over the years I’ve realized that I’ve taken those two traits and incorporated them in a way that works for me; the older I get the more like my mother I become.
My Aunt Sharon has lived her life in a way that I’m completely in awe of. She’s always gone against the norm; she’s lived in big cities, small apartments, and places you and I might think twice about. She has the best taste in music and stories that are insanely entertaining.
What do you want to accomplish in the next 5 years?
I hope that in the next five years Amy and I are able to add 10-20 more women to our team. We’d really like to be able to expand our impact in the community.
How would you like to be remembered?
I’m simple…I’d just like to be remembered fondly.
What is your favorite television show and where can we stream it online?
I don’t have cable so any show I watch is either available for streaming on Netflix or is broadcast on a local channel.
I really like the suspense of ‘Breaking Bad’. I also really like that the writers took their time to develop each character, so that the audience feels as though they know every little thing about each of the characters.
My boyfriend and I just discovered a series on PBS called, ‘How We Got to Now’
. The show reveals stories about the ideas that made modern life possible and all the consequences that happened as a result of small choices made to advance society.