Three years ago Angel Tyler found herself homeless. Today she has her own jewelry line, Angel’s Creations. Her success is a tale of faith, perseverance, motivation, renewed confidence and a passion to follow a dream.
Back in 2013 she lost her job. That led to losing her house and she found herself either living in her car or moving from friend’s couch to friend’s couch. Finally, in March 2014 she ended up at the Coalition for Temporary Shelter or COTS.
That turned out to be a godsend.
Not only does COTS provide temporary shelter, its aim is to help people get back on their feet.
Staying on the fourth floor of the agency on Peterboro in Detroit, she had heard about a meeting about The Empowerment Plan. The Detroit non-profit hires previously homeless women to make sleeping bag coats for homeless people. She liked what she heard and decided to interview.
“I was a little nervous,” she says.
Her counselor helped her prepare. The Empowerment Plan usually does three interviews. Tyler’s first one went well. During the second one she mentioned she had experience sewing and had altered her prom dress years before. That dress had reams and reams of beads.
“I pulled it out of my bag,” she says. “They said ‘I like her.’”
There was no third interview. Tyler started working at The Empowerment Plan in April 2014 and was on her way, not only to self-sufficiency, but also to a regained self-confidence. By August she had enough money to get her own place.
This past October she began following her passion and started making jewelry.
“I spent my weekends doing this,” she says. She and her kids started out at IHOP and then moved on Jo-An Fabrics and Michaels looking for unusual and interesting pieces that could be turned into jewelry. She made her first sales at the Ponyride Makers’ Market at Christmastime and took home about $500. She donated 15% of her proceeds back to The Empowerment Plan.
The jewelry line is only part of Tyler’s success story. She’s been through a lot.
Back in 2013 her kid’s dad went to jail and her job was on the line. Her place of employment had a strict attendance policy and arriving on time was demanded. Not an uncommon rule, but for Tyler it was a dilemma. There was no bus to take her kids to school so she had to drop them off and pick them up at specific times. Her job was miles and miles away from the school and it was impossible to do both. Sometimes her mom was available to help, but not always.
She lost the job and things got very tight.
“It was a chain reaction,” she says.
The cable went first. Finally, there was a big decision to make … should she sell the car to pay the rent? She kept the car and at one point lived in it.
“I felt like less of a person,” she says. “I had no money for gas so I used the car as kind of a mini taxi to earn money.”
She wanted to be make sure her kids had a safe place to stay so they began living with her parents.
“It was a blessing,” Tyler says. “I was in a depressed state and needed something to fall back on and get my confidence back.”
The Empowerment Plan has given her that and much more. She quickly earned enough money to rent a house and her kids, who are seven and nine, only had to stay with her parents for a few months. They even help make some of the jewelry.
She also has found a place that offers camaraderie, friendship and an understanding of how quickly things can go wrong and life changes.
“We are a family here” she says. “We have all been through similar things.”
Many of the other women working at The Empowerment Plan have purchased Tyler’s jewelry. She’d done special orders for their kids’ birthdays or other events. Many of them proudly showed off the jewelry they’d purchased when I visited Tyler at work.
Her earrings go for $10 a pair. A necklace and earrings set is $20 and then there’s a beautiful copper bracelet she’s quite proud of that costs $50. (I might just have to go back and buy that one.)
“We are so proud to have such a hardworking, creative, and generous person as a member of our team,” says The Empowerment Plan.
There is no feeling sorry herself in Angel conversation. “It is part of my testimony because I overcame it,” she says.
You can check out Tyler’s work on her Facebook page. Here are some samples.