Alumni Spotlight: Baylee Eby Nov 14, 2018 BY BAYLEE EBY (EDITED BY MOLLY HANNON) Alumni Spotlight: Baylee Eby 2018 has been an exciting year for me. In April, I launched a small business, Dreamer & Co, with my co-founder Jessica Gardner. Dreamer & Co is a social impact company whose mission is to provide job skills and a steady income to young women in the Horn of Africa, helping them realize their potential and feel empowered, dignified, and in turn, flourish in their daily lives. We purchase handcrafted paper beads directly from our partner artisans and we use the beads to create ethically sourced jewelry. The idea for Dreamer & Co began during my last semester at Batten in 2015. I had traveled to the Horn of Africa to study water provision for refugees for my Applied Policy Project (APP). I was working with a local NGO there, and while not at the refugee camp, they introduced me to the other programs they ran, one of which was a women's vocational center. The center teaches low-income women different skills, such as making paper beads, sewing, and baking. In addition, they teach them how to do manage their finances and run a small business. While meeting the women who made the paper bead necklaces, I could not help but dream about how much more their market and economic sustainability could increase if they were able to sell their products in the U.S. During this time, I was taking a Social Entrepreneurship course with Christine Mahoney at the Batten School. We had done case studies and studied companies that elevated people out of poverty by providing greater economic opportunities. In this course, we actually did an exercise where we had to create our own social impact brand by filling out the Social Lean Canvas Template and present it to the class. I later used the exact worksheet we filled out in professor Mahoney's class to plan out Dreamer & Co. This was one of the courses that provided me with the understanding, tools, and confidence to start Dreamer & Co. I started working with Jessica, who during this time worked for an NGO and also with the women at the vocational center. We began to plan out how we could create a business and be the link between these women and consumers in the U.S. Three years of dreaming, planning, and working tirelessly and we have finally launched! I could not be more obsessed with the jewelry that we sell. I still can’t believe our artisans make these beads out of paper. The pieces are sustainable, contemporary and stylish. Not only that, but each piece tells the story of a woman who is able to dream about a better future. Starting a business is a lot of work, but it comes with a lot of rewards. Of course, we are still in the infant stages and still have a lot of learning and growth ahead of us, but we are excited to be making an impact on these women's lives as their products also make an impact on consumer's lives. At Dreamer & Co we operate under the belief that consuming goods in a globalized economy should be more than about ourselves. As consumers, we can play a role in improving the lives of others through conscious consumption. Therefore, we are rooted in seeking to provide consumers with products produced responsibly, ethically and transparently for the benefit of others. We achieve this by providing job skills and a steady income to our partner artisans and empowering women through business. Christine Mahoney Christine Mahoney is Professor of Public Policy and Politics at the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy and Director of Social Entrepreneurship at the University of Virginia. 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