M.egan Eddings, founder, CEO and creative chemist of Speed up your lifestylerevolutionizes the textile industry, one odorless, antibacterial mask after another.
After Megan was the first in her family to go to college and get a degree in chemistry, she left a successful career in medical device sales to address a common household problem: smelly laundry.
Inspired by the smell in her husband’s workout clothes, she invented Prema® antibacterial fabric, the first odor-repellent fabric without the use of toxic chemicals. Megan then built Accel Lifestyle into a global conglomerate of active clothing, masks and fabrics based on sustainability and ethical practices.
We asked Megan about her path to entrepreneurship, her greatest achievements, and the lessons she learned on her journey to growing a global company.
Q: How has your upbringing or previous experience contributed to how you operate as an entrepreneur?
A: I grew up in a very loving home, but we didn’t have a lot of money. My dad made $ 26,000 a year and my mom was a home mom. My brothers and I never knew we didn’t have a lot of money because we did a lot of sports, always had a homemade meal on the table, and had clean clothes. We were raised to work really hard no matter what we did – and that our word is everything. My parents also taught the importance of saving money and being kind. These traits have greatly influenced my success with Accel Lifestyle.
Q: Did you always know that you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
A: I never thought I would be an entrepreneur – I never wanted to be a manager. I grew up in a family where you either get a job after high school or after college and work there until you retire. I was the first person in my family to go to college. It wasn’t until I was in my mid-30s that I thought about inventing an antibacterial fabric. After listening to a few podcasts and reading business books, I decided to go there and started my own company.
Q: What are the biggest mistakes you’ve made?
A: The biggest mistake I’ve made more than once was not listening to my gut. I made a pretty big mistake last year and I have no plans to make one this big again. A billion dollar company asked to partner with me and my company. It was literally a dream come true. They sold me the moon and my team and I loved it. I had to hire an attorney and a consultant to get us started, finalize the contract, and start planning. In short, the partner company misled me and I spent almost $ 200,000 on nothing. I was depressed for about two months last year because I just couldn’t believe a company and its people could be so fraudulent. The good news is I may have lost $ 200,000, but I’ve learned so much when the next company wants to work with us.
Q: What is the biggest misconception others have about entrepreneurship?
A: It’s not a glamorous lifestyle at all. There are so many classes on how to become an entrepreneur, and social media often just shows the highlights, earnings, awards, and patents. About 90 percent of the time is spent in grind mode, lots and lots of mistakes and disappointments, and constantly working or thinking about work. Another misunderstanding is the idea of ”overnight success”. Overnight success usually requires at least seven years of hectic, perseverance and resilience.
Q: As an entrepreneur, do you struggle with self-doubt? How do you navigate this?
A: I struggle with self-doubt a lot, but I’ve taught myself how to be productive with it. At the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey, I read a book about fear. It is said that everyone is afraid, regardless of whether they make $ 5,000 a year or $ 5,000,000 a year. It’s the way we approach fear that brings us through it. I now acknowledge my self-doubt and fear and ascribe them mainly to the psychoanalytic ego. I acknowledge the feeling, gently brush it aside, and think about all the wonderful steps my team and I are taking. I focus on the positives, the success we’ve had so quickly, and the major impact we’re making.
Q: We dare to brag about you: what achievements are you most proud of?
A: My brother is a Marine, my cousin is a Marine and my father always wanted to be in the military but he couldn’t because he was legally blind. Last year we were asked by the military to make antibacterial face masks. We have made and shipped over 125,000 masks and we now have the military contract.
Mayor Turner of Houston, Texas named May 24th as “Megan Eddings Day” for my philanthropic work. I come from a very small town in Rhode Island. When I moved to Houston 14 years ago, I was amazed and shocked to see so much hardship. Over the years I have organized many charities, fundraisers, and fitness events to raise money for small nonprofits that could go as high as $ 1,000.
Q: How do you celebrate successes along the way?
A: I laughed reading this question because my strategies for partying are very different. Sometimes I get my nails done, sometimes I go out to dinner with my husband, sometimes I watch The Real Housewives (any city), and sometimes I indulge in a nap or a big nap.
Q: What’s next for you and your company?
A: We launched and sold over 600,000 face masks in 2020. Because of our healthcare experience and background, a large hospital reached out to me and asked my team and me to design a new style of reusable isolation gowns. We registered the design patent a few months ago and will be launching these dresses soon. We’re about to receive our first order for 45,000 dresses.
Megan is a member of Dreamers & Doers, a private collective that empowers the entrepreneurial pursuit of exceptional women through thought leadership, authentic connection, and access. Learn more over Dreamers & Doers and subscribe to their monthly The digest for top entrepreneur and career resources.
The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.