The Fellows Initiative
Entrepreneurship and Flourishing: An Interview with Baylee Eby
by Morgan Thompson
Fellows programs are designed to help recent college graduates start well. It is our mission and hope that each fellow will finish their experience more equipped to start young professional life with Christ at the center and real-world skills to make an impact in their community.
Some fellows take the start in start well more literally than others. For Baylee Eby, a member of the Capital Fellows Class of 2015-16, the Fellows program was a launching point for founding her jewelry business, Dreamer & Co., that is bringing blessing and beauty around the world.
Baylee (on the left in the picture) is a friendly face to everyone she meets. Whether over the phone or in person at a trunk show in Northern Virginia, her bubbly warmth shines through. Friends and fellow McLean Presbyterian attendees get to enjoy her company on a regular basis. Her husband Daniel, their Mountain Bernese dog, Moose, and soon-to-be baby girl get to call themselves her family.
Baylee’s story serves as a reminder that the God who writes our life stories is an author who knows what He’s doing. Our backgrounds shape our present and guide our futures.
A Dream Broken…
Growing up in a military family meant moving ten times and visiting over 35 countries throughout Baylee’s life. Living in Ukraine in high school inspired her to continue studying the culture, language, and politics of the region through the Russian Language and Eastern European studies program at University of Virginia. Baylee hoped her undergraduate education, combined with a Master’s in Public Policy, would help her fulfill her dream of working in the intelligence community. God had other plans in store.
A few twists and turns later, Baylee’s Master’s thesis brought her to the Horn of Africa to study local water provision with a humanitarian non-profit. While preparing to travel there, she met a woman named Jessica who worked for the same non-profit. She also met several local artisans that make beaded jewelry. Several years later, Baylee and Jessica would co-found Dreamer & Co. to support the work of these women.
After finishing her education, but weighed down with broken dreams about a future in intelligence work, Baylee arrived at her fellows program. The program’s built-in community provided a place of respite and healing. But that wasn’t all that God had in store for Baylee during her fellows season.
One of Baylee's fellows professors, Steve Garber, taught a class on faith, vocation, and society. The final project was an open-ended opportunity to apply the themes of the class to your own life. So Baylee wrote a business plan.
…And Dreams Come True
Baylee wanted to make a way for the some of the women she met in the Horn of Africa to have sustainable incomes and improved lives. “As believers we see that we’re living in this world, and things are not as God intended them to be,” Baylee says. “As co-creators with Christ, we are called to push things toward what they were meant to be and sow redemption in the world.”
Dreamer & Co. has several themes of the Fellows Initiative woven into its business and its mission – to bring flourishing and to promote meaningful vocation. Each piece of jewelry is made by partner artisans in the Horn of Africa who also created the paper beads by hand. The peace and joy of flourishing is evidenced in Dreamer & Co.’s commitment to partnering with women in a way that celebrates their value and dignity.
Financial independence for the artisans is the goal for Dreamer & Co. “I love seeing the women coming to the project house to work and laughing, having fun, and feeling like they’re worth more than they were told growing up,” Baylee says. In their local language, the women are called riyo rumoday, which means dreams come true.
Vocation, from a Fellows perspective, comes with a certain luxury of purpose. Many fellows are able to explore and seek the opportunities that God has for them to serve His kingdom. To the women in Africa, vocation simply means a job that can provide for their family. Baylee hopes that partnering with these women will help them share a vision for vocation that includes stewarding the gifts of creativity, diligence, and cooperation that God has given them through work.
More Flourishing, More Hope
The idea behind Dreamer & Co. accounts for the reality of the modern world – an interconnected economy that is always buying more – and their own desire to see God’s purposes for work reflected in the lives of women throughout the world.
“We live in a globalized economy and are always consuming goods,” Baylee emphasizes. “Oftentimes as consumers we don’t really think twice about the goods we consume, but because we live in a globalized economy our purchases should be more than about ourselves.”
This is where every future or former fellow, every supporter, every Christian can join in. The hands that prepare our food, sew our clothes, and design our jewelry are hands that were formed by God the Father. Choosing businesses like Dreamer & Co. means more flourishing and more hope for people like the artisan women in the Horn of Africa.
TFI News and Updates
Interested in joining the 2020-21 fellows class? There are still spots available in programs across the country. If you are a recent college graduate, or will be graduating in May 2020, you should consider being one of 250+ fellows in the 31 TFI fellows programs. CLICK HERE to submit your TFI Common Application.
Interested in starting a new fellows program in your church? TFI hosts a 2-day training program for prospective program leaders. The next one will be September 17-18, 20120 in McLean, Virginia. Please join us to learn how a fellows program can impact your church and city. CLICK HERE to register.
Stay Connected with TFI. Follow TFI on LinkedIn! If you want to follow TFI's news and announcements, follow the TFI company page on LinkedIn. If you're a TFI fellows program alumni, join the growing community in the TFI Alumni Group on LinkedIn.
Join with TFI as a Financial Partner!
COVID-19 is challenging, but we are pressing ahead with the mission of TFI: to inspire and equip the emerging generation of leaders for the church, workplace and society. There are now 31 fellows programs across the country!
If you have been blessed by a fellows program or simply want to see this Kingdom ministry expand, please consider making a recurring donation or a one-time gift to TFI. CLICK HERE to donate online. To give by check, please mail it to:
The Fellows Initiative
20130 Lakeview Center Plaza, Suite 400
Ashburn, Virginia 20147
Thank you! TFI is a donor supported 501c3 nonprofit.
Amazon Smile - An Easy Way to Support TFI
A very easy way to support TFI is through Amazon Smile. Through this program, Amazon will give up to 0.5% of the proceeds of your purchases to TFI. It's very easy to sign up. All prices and services are the same on Amazon Smile as the regular Amazon. Please click here to learn more.