Nothing like bonding over good-smelling shoes and clothes with this week's Journey catch-up ;)
YES - the wonderful Megan has worked her magic to keep you smelling fresh even after a long workout with her brilliant Accel fashion fitness apparel collection - bonus, it’s all sustainably made - talk about a match made in happy planet heaven with Jibs! Follow in the footsteps of how Megan made the transition from a scientist researching proteins and cancer cells to a sales rep, to a business owner AND MORE…
Name: Megan Eddings
Location: Houston, TX
Business website: accellifestyle.com
Facebook: Accel Lifestyle
LET'S GET STARTED ...
Natalie: A SOFT OPENING FOR YOU HERE… TELL US A LITTLE HIGHLIGHT TO THE JOURNEY YOU FIND YOURSELF ON RIGHT NOW?
Megan: I never thought I would be an entrepreneur, it never really entered my mind. I grew up in a family where you go to college, join the military or learn a trade after high school. Max out the 401K, get an additional day of vacation time every few months, etc.
While this way of life is wonderful for many people, being an entrepreneur has shown me that the world can be explored AND have a career.
I am born and raised in the HUGE state of Rhode Island, but I have been living in Texas the last 18 years. I still consider myself a “Northeasterner” living in a southern state. As I write this, I am sitting on my Mom’s couch in Rhode Island, wearing her light pink housecoat (I swear my Grandmother had the same one), and I am drinking out of a Christmas mug (it’s September). This is my last morning in RI before I head back to Houston AND I am getting work done.
It's a beautiful thing when we can break through barriers on how things should be done and start living the life of how we want it to be done.
FLYING IN FASHION
Natalie: WHAT KIND OF ADVENTURES/TRAVELS DO YOU ENJOY TAKING - OR HAVE PLANS SET TO SEE YOURSELF TAKING IN JIBS?
Megan: I absolutely LOVE going to all-inclusive hotels, visiting my Mother in Law in Florida and going home to Rhode Island. I will be wearing my Jibs later today as I fly back to Houston. I already have my entire outfit picked out. I will rock my Jet Black and Gold Jibs, with black leggings and a black Accel Lifestyle T-shirt. I have a multi-colored long duster that I will rock over it.
I always feel like being in an airport, heading to my next adventure, is an opportunity to show my style (almost like a catwalk), and my Jibs are always part of my “look”.
A LITTLE GOES A LONG WAY
Natalie: THERE’S A REASON WE SNEAK “HAVE A NICE DAY” INTO OUR INSOLES. WE BELIEVE THAT IF YOU DO ONE SMALL GOOD DEED EVERY DAY, THAT CAN ADD UP TO SOME PRETTY MAJOR CHANGE. WHAT LITTLE (OR BIG) ACTIONS DO YOU TAKE IN YOUR DAILY ROUTINE TO BETTER THIS PLANET AND ITS PEOPLE?
Megan: Being Kind is Free. I talk to strangers every single day: in my elevator, at the gym, in a grocery store, recently I struck up 3 conversations at a Walgreens. I want people to always feel truly seen and heard. We have all gone thru dark times and the smallest gesture from anyone, including a stranger, can lift up someone’s day.
Meaningful connection with others always lifts up my days. I was recently on my elevator (getting in on the 9th floor). When I got on the elevator, a lady had a suitcase, so I asked if she was going on vacation. She said she was going to Dallas, but she did not say the word “vacation”. Between the 9th floor and the 3rd floor, she told me she was going on an interview and she was driving to Dallas the day before so she could relax. She was VERY nervous because this was her first interview in 30 years! I gave her a huge high-five and “WOO HOO’d” her as she left the elevator. I saw her about a month later and SHE GOT THE JOB! That is the kind of joy that fills my soul.
THREE CHEERS FOR SUSTAINABLE FASHION
Natalie: WHAT KIND OF IMPACT DO YOU HOPE TO MAKE ON YOUR COMMUNITY WITH YOUR MISSION OF SUSTAINABILITY AS A FEMALE FOUNDER AND ACTIVE ENTREPRENEUR?
Megan: My team and I always focus on what is best for humanity and the environment, with every decision we make. By choosing an ethical supply chain, a sustainable business model, made in USA (nearshoring), we are proud to have created a business and a culture of being mindful with all decisions.
We do this because it is the right thing to do. It has been a blessing to experience our decisions impacting other’s decisions. Besides our actions, we use our voice on social media. It’s been beautiful to see the reactions and impacts we have made with others. Our community is now more mindful when purchasing clothes (knowing some of the harmful effects of fast fashion).
We used to really focus on fitness, endorphins, movement. While movement is a huge part of releasing endorphins (natural happy), taking time to rest and recharge is extremely important to overall well-being: both physically and mentally.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
Natalie: WAS THERE A SPECIFIC CATALYST THAT JUMPSTARTED YOUR JOURNEY WITH SUSTAINABILITY?
Megan: I have two major catalysts that jumpstarted me founding Accel Lifestyle.
#1 - My Husband’s stinky clothes (specifically his t-shirts)
Accel Lifestyle literally started because I was tired of throwing away my husband’s workout clothes, because they stunk. I have a background in chemistry and biochemistry from The University of Virginia. I put my science hat back on and started researching why our clothes smell. I was selling medical equipment at the time and I became obsessed with research on “stinky clothes”.
At the time, I was selling $3 million MRI machines and I could not believe I was selling these expensive MRI machines, trips were being planned to Mars and we STILL had workout clothes that smelled. After over 3 years of R&D (research and development), I am proud to say that I invented Prema®, an anti-bacterial, anti-stink fabric.
#2 - My eyes being opened to sweatshops and chemicals used to make most of our clothes
When I was researching other companies and what is out there today for textiles, I was appalled by the working conditions of most of the factories, the chemical leakage that happens in the areas of the factories and the chemicals that are actually applied to a lot of clothes.
Finding a fully ethical supply chain was just as challenging as inventing Prema® fabric. I have to be able to put my head on the pillow at night and know that I did my absolute best for humanity and the environment with all of my decisions. It is possible to have a fully ethical supply chain (no sweatshops) and have a profitable company. No one’s health and life should be negatively impacted because of a business trying to make a larger profit.
SCIENTIST TURNED SALES REP TURNED BUSINESS OWNER
Natalie: HOW DID YOU MAKE THE TRANSITION FROM A SCIENTIST RESEARCHING PROTEINS AND CANCER CELLS TO A SALES REP TO A BUSINESS OWNER? DID YOU FIND IT CHALLENGING?
Megan: I just smiled when I read this question. As I mentioned earlier, I have been back in RI (where I am from) for the last 1.5 weeks. My Mom wanted me to go thru a huge bin of papers, pictures, awards, etc. from elementary school and high school. While going thru all of the papers, I was shocked to read some of the papers I wrote because they all were the exact same thoughts I have today.
From the looks of my writing, I was about 10ish when my teacher asked us a profound question: "If you had a bag and could put items in the bag that reflect you who are what would you put in the bag?"
Here is what I said:
- A bunch of plastic people: because I am outgoing and I love making people happy
- A cross: because I believe in God and pray
-A tooth: because I want to be an orthodontist
-A book: I love school and I work really hard
While I did not go on to become an orthodontist, I am still very much into taking care of my teeth and a nice smile. The other items are still integral to who I am at 41 years old and all decisions that I make. I fell in love with chemistry in 10th grade and knew that is what I would major in. I really never had a plan on exactly what I would do with that degree, but I loved the idea of an entire subject based on things that we cannot see with the naked eye.
Because I loved science, working in a science lab was super fun and meaningful, for a short time. It went against my #1 (loving being around people). The switch from a job where I talk to 1-2 people a day and sometimes even talk to my Petri dish, to a career in medical sales, where I get to be around people all of the time makes perfect sense.
Medical sales taught me how to have thick skin (hearing “no” a lot will do that), formulating strategies to win, and reigniting my love for real relationships with people. I did not look at customers as just customers, I looked at them as friends and wanting to always bring joy. Even since leaving medical equipment sales back in 2016, I am still Facebook friends with quite a few of my former customers.
From medical equipment sales to entrepreneurship is not as big as a leap as it may sound. My Dad suddenly passed away at 58 years young of a heart attack in 2012 and I was blessed to give his eulogy. He worked for the same company for 33 years and, during his eulogy, I never once brought up his job. With the realization that I never brought up Dad’s job (which I found fascinating after the fact), I knew there had to be more. I absolutely loved medical equipment sales, but I opened by heart to God and asked him to show me the way. Fast forward a couple of months after Dad’s death, I went on a blind date with my now-husband, Kyle, and his stinky workout clothes not only was the catalyst for inventing Prema® anti-stink fabric, it was the catalyst for something SO much bigger: bringing joy wherever I go and touching lives on a much larger scale.
I absolutely do “get down” about things in life: I am human. However, as I look back to absolutely incredible events in my life and events that brought me great sorrow, I know they are all part of the journey and path that I am supposed to be on.
Natalie: DO YOU HAVE ANY PLANS TO EXPAND YOUR BUSINESS OUT OF HOUSTON AND ESTABLISH SHOPS ELSEWHERE?
Megan: Oh Yes! We are going worldwide!
We are currently carried in quite a few locations around the country: boutique stores, country clubs, gyms, spas, etc. A really exciting announcement came a few months ago. US Weekly started an online marketplace and they chose to carry Accel Lifestyle, next to other brands such as Chanel, GUCCI, Celine, etc. We are carried on quite a few other marketplaces as well.
We are also currently “in the works” with opportunities overseas. We are still in the beginning phases of these opportunities. Probably because of my background in science and loving data, I always continue down a path collecting data and information, but at the end, my decision is always made with my gut.
“If something doesn’t feel right, it ain’t right.”
Besides carrying Accel Lifestyle throughout the world, we just started awesome conversations with BIG brands regarding them licensing our Prema® fabric. Big brands are in need of differentiation. The customer is smart and who wouldn’t want to support a sustainable, super soft fabric, that is also anti-stink. We will be excited to make these official announcements in the near future.
INTO THE FUTURE ...
Natalie: WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR ACCEL LIFESTYLE IN THE FUTURE?
Megan: The cool thing about entrepreneurship and owning a company is the freedom to be able to make it what I want: even changing the direction. If you would have asked me back in 2019 (when we launched Accel Lifestyle), “What are your goals for Accel Lifestyle?”, I would have said “I want us to be bigger than Lululemon and every piece of fabric we use will have science included and everything will be made ethically and sustainably.”
While focusing on science, an ethical supply chain and being sustainable are still at our core, I absolutely LOVE developing textiles with technology, so this is definitely an added part to Accel Lifestyle and Prema® fabric.
I told someone recently about my goals that I just outlined above and he responded “You have to pick a lane”.
My response: “Do I? I want to be in all of the lanes”
Natalie: WE ARE BIG BELIEVERS IN PUTTING YOUR BEST FOOT FORWARD. AKA PERFECTLY IMPERFECT WHILE WE DO THE BEST WE CAN FEELS GREAT. WHAT GO-TO MANTRAS OR MEMORIES DO YOU REFLECT ON TO KEEP YOU DRIVING FORWARD?
Megan: Starting a business is extremely and I mean extremely challenging. Not having a background in business was a blessing and a curse. When something negative happened that seem insurmountable, I did not have anything to look back on to tell me that I would figure it out. However, I always had drive to succeed and persevere and I always figured out a solution.
Because my team and I have figured out solutions to every obstacle, I now know when something happens that is wildly challenging, I know it is not the end of the world. Because of this mindset, one of our company mantras is: “There is a solution to every problem.”
I am an extremely positive person and my team is extremely positive as well. We also like to have fun outside of work, yet we still always get the job done. Amanda Cotler, our Director of Operations, is actually an incredible Improv comedian AND her business card should say “under promiser, over deliverer”.
Our second mantra:
“We have fun, we get shit done”.