Editor’s note: This is an edited version of the story Dre Barthel wrote while participating in a Whyography workshop.
It was a lovely summer day in early August. Dre Barthel had been looking forward to her 7th birthday party for weeks. She had picked out the perfect outfit and eagerly awaited the signal to come outside. As she opened the door to their backyard, she could hardly believe her eyes. Dre’s mom had transformed the entire yard into an extravagant circus complete with games, prizes, and characters in full costume. Her friends and sisters were all there. It was an amazing, one-of-a-kind experience. And for a kid who often felt like she didn’t fit in, on that day Dre felt like she truly belonged.
That special event sparked Dre’s love of celebrations. She could often be found arranging tea parties and rounding up friends for all kinds of get-togethers. She loved the delicate beauty of vintage tea cups and was equally happy getting dirty racing her Big Wheel at the community block party. During her school years, she was the go-to gal for planning parties and ensuring the decor was on point. It was second nature for her.
But when she wasn’t gathering people together and creating memorable experiences, the feeling that she didn’t belong crept in. Dre often imagined herself among the characters on the Island of Misfit Toys from her favorite classic holiday tale, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” She could relate to Hermey the Elf and all of the misfit toys singing their anthem of loneliness, questioning their identity, and wondering how they fit in. Then, when she was in high school, she was offered a gift that would shift the course of her life forever—an invitation to a local church.
Among the company of other young adults at the church, Dre discovered her truth. What she’d been telling herself about being a misfit was a lie and it was finally brought to light. Her narrative changed to one of hope, joy, and purpose. Her identity was now securely rooted in being a child of God. With this realization, Dre knew what she was meant to do. She would use her gifts to create inclusive experiences for others who also identified as misfits and those in the margins.
Though Dre’s career path didn’t follow a straight line, she’d always held positions that combined her passion for helping and connecting others and her knack for planning and organizing. And no matter where she worked or volunteered, she was part of the event planning committee. After a long stretch as a stay-at-home mom, and struggling to manage re-emerging misfit feelings, Dre prayed and considered what was next. Finally, the answer became clear: Entrepreneurship was the path for her.
In 2017, Dre launched Covey, a boutique events business that partners with organizations to bring their brand and mission to life through meaningful experiences that keep both the host and the guest in mind. From the invitation to the thank-you note, Covey handles all the details and creates gatherings with intention. Clients include large corporations, nonprofits, international speakers, small business owners, networking groups, and more.
Though producing extraordinary events is her primary focus, Dre has found that building her team—the Covey Crew—has been one of her greatest joys. She jokes that her job title could be “dream facilitator” because she has a gift for recognizing untapped potential and providing opportunities for dreams to be realized. Her relationship-building skills also translate to Dre’s work with Covey clients as she brings the vision of their events to life and creates purposeful interactions with lasting impact.
Since opening its doors, more than 10,000 attendees have been impacted and inspired by Covey events. Dre has helped raise over a quarter of a million dollars for her nonprofit partners. She also hosts several Covey-powered events like the MomBoss 5K and Steadfast Retreat. Covey is the vehicle that allows Dre’s passion for meaningful events, effective branding, and smart strategy to collide with her deepest desire to make a difference in the lives of others.
To learn more about Dre’s business, visit CoveyEvents.com.
Photo: Kate Becker Photography