Kaitlyn Mescher, a senior at Annapolis Area Christian School, and Chase Hilliard, a senior at Severn School, could have easily stayed at home and relaxed — as many teenagers did — when COVID-19 quarantine restrictions started in 2020. The students decided together, however, that they wanted to use their time to make an impact on their community. Mescher and Hilliard both live near the Severn River; they grew up making memories on the water, and they wanted to do something to help preserve the Chesapeake Bay.
“We want to be part of the reason future generations enjoy the bay just as much as we do,” Mescher said.
The teens started a company called Beyond the Bay. They design, print and sell T-shirts, then donate the profits to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. With Mescher’s graphic design abilities and Hilliard’s money management skills, they knew they had the tools they needed to go in together on this artistic and exciting business venture.
“With our combined strengths, we knew we could make a successful company,” Hilliard said.
They got to work. Mescher designed the now-popular character Baylor the Chesapeake water dog, a mascot that could represent the Chesapeake Bay and relate to nearly all Marylanders. Hilliard began working on the finances. The teens did extensive research and reached out to Brackish Life owner Kyle Poore to schedule a meeting. Poore appreciated their passion and their cause, and he helped them navigate the start-up process, as well as promotion and production strategies.
Much to Mescher and Hilliard’s excitement and surprise, the T-shirts were soon sold out.
“Since we launched our first two designs, we sold out almost immediately, which was something neither of us thought we'd accomplish in such a short time,” Hilliard said. “We’ve placed numerous orders since then and we plan on expanding our brand with a website including more products very soon.”
The T-shirt company now has a wider following, and the teens are working to restock new items to expand their store.
“When starting this passion project, neither of us thought it would come this far, but with the help of friends and family, we have succeeded more than we could have possibly imagined,” Mescher said.
For more information on Beyond the Bay and its new merchandise, follow the company on Instagram at @BeyondTheBayCo. Mescher and Hilliard are hoping to sell many more T-shirts, stating that, “We want to be part of the reason future generations enjoy the bay just as much as we do.”