Megan Eddings, Founder, CEO and Creative Chemist of Accel Lifestyle, revolutionizes the textile industry, one odorless antibacterial mask at a time.
After being the first in her family to attend college and earn a degree in chemistry, Megan left a successful career selling medical equipment to tackle a common household problem: smelly laundry.
Inspired by the scent trapped in her husband’s sportswear, she invented the exclusive antibacterial Prema® fabric, the first odor-resistant fabric without the use of toxic chemicals. Megan then turned Accel Lifestyle into a global sportswear, mask and fabric conglomerate rooted in sustainability and ethical practices.
We asked Megan about her entrepreneurial journey, her greatest accomplishments, and the lessons she has learned throughout growing a global business.
Q: In what ways has your education or past experiences contributed to the way 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 stay-at-home mom. My brothers and I never knew we didn’t have a lot of money because we played a lot of sports, always had a home cooked meal on the table, and had clean clothes. We were brought up to work really hard no matter what we did – and that our word is everything. My parents also taught the value of saving money and being kind. These attributes have had a huge impact on my success with Accel Lifestyle.
Q: Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
A: I never thought I would be an entrepreneur, I never even wanted to be a manager. I grew up in a family where you can find a job, either after high school or college, and you work there until retirement, making sure to maximize your 401k every year. I was the first person in my family to go to college. It wasn’t until my mid-30s that I thought about inventing an antibacterial fabric. After listening to a bunch of podcasts and reading business books, I decided to go ahead and start my own business.
Q: What are the biggest mistakes you’ve made?
A: The biggest mistake I made more than once was not listening to my instincts. I made a big mistake last year and I have no plans to do it again. A multi-billion dollar business has asked to partner with me and my business. It was literally a dream come true. They sold me the moon and my team and I were thrilled. I had to hire a lawyer and a consultant to help us get started, finalize the contract, and start planning. Long story short, the partner company misled me and I spent almost $ 200,000 for nothing. In fact, I was depressed for about two months last year because I just couldn’t believe that a company and its employees could be so deceptive. The good news is, I might have lost $ 200,000, but I’ve learned so much for when the next business wants to partner with us.
Q: What’s the biggest misconception others have about entrepreneurship?
A: It’s not a glamorous lifestyle at all. There are so many courses on how to become an entrepreneur and social media often only shows the highlights, earnings, awards, and patents. About 90% of the time is made up of working style, lots of setbacks and disappointments, and working or thinking about work all the time. Another misconception is the idea of ”overnight success”. Overnight success typically takes at least seven years of activity, persistence, and resilience.
Q: Have you struggled with self-doubt as an entrepreneur? How do you navigate this?
A: I often struggle with self-doubt, but I have trained to overcome it productively. At the start of my entrepreneurial journey, I read a book about fear. He said that everyone is afraid, whether they earn $ 5,000 or $ 5,000,000 a year. It’s the way we approach fear that gets us through it. I now recognize my doubts and fear of myself, and attribute them primarily to the psychoanalytic ego. I recognize the feeling, gently push it away, and think about all the wonderful steps my team and I are taking. I chose to focus on the positive, the success we had so quickly and the meaningful impact we are having.
Q: We dare to brag: what accomplishments are you most proud of?
A: My brother is a Marine, my cousin is a Marine, and my dad always wanted to be in the military, but he couldn’t because he was legally blind. Last year we were approached by the military to make antibacterial masks. We have manufactured and shipped over 125,000 masks and are now under military contract.
Mayor Turner of Houston, Texas named May 24 “Megan Eddings Day” for my philanthropic work. I come from a very small town in Rhode Island so when I moved to Houston 14 years ago I was amazed and shocked to see so many needs. Over the years, I have organized many charity events, return donations, and fitness events to raise funds for small nonprofits that could use even $ 1,000 a lot.
Q: How do you celebrate the successes along the way?
A: I laughed while reading this question because my celebration strategies vary widely. Sometimes I get my nails done, sometimes I go out to eat with my husband, sometimes I watch excessively The Real Housewives (any city), and sometimes I feast on sleeping or taking a long nap.
Q: What’s the next step for you and your business?
A: We have launched and sold over 600,000 face masks in 2020. Due to our healthcare exposure and background, a large hospital contacted me and asked me and my team to design a new style of reusable isolation gowns. We filed the design patent a few months ago and will launch these dresses soon. We are about to receive our first order of 45,000 dresses.
Megan is a member of Dreamers and doers, a private collective that amplifies the entrepreneurial activities of extraordinary women through thought leadership opportunities, authentic connection and access. Learn more In regards to Dreamers and doers and subscribe to their monthly The digest for the best entrepreneurial and professional resources.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.