GETTING IN GEAR

Houston activewear founder doesn't sweat small stuff

Megan Eddings wants her ethical and bacteria-resistant activewear line to be as big as Lululemon — heard of it? Photo courtesy of Accel Lifestyle

This article originally appeared on InnovationMap.

For Megan Eddings, it has sometimes felt like the world was against her and her startup. Just about everything that could have gone wrong for her, went wrong — sometimes, multiple times.

Eddings first had her idea for a bacteria-resistant, ethically-made material for workout shirts over four years ago, and, much to her disappointment, she still hasn't launched.

"I never thought it would take this so long to make a T-shirt," Eddings says. "But, if you do it right and in an ethical way, it just takes a little longer."

She's finally set to launch in the second quarter of 2019, she says, and her supply chain is almost complete with manufacturers across the United States — all with ethical working environments verified by Eddings herself.

Hers is a story of trial and error, but, more importantly, having a positive attitude, showing other female founders how to keep your head up when the world's getting you down. Throughout her past few years, while she was perfecting her material, Eddings learned every lesson about starting a company — the hard way — and she's passionate about sharing her story and motivate others not to be deterred by setbacks on the mission to creating something.

InnovationMap: Originally, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Megan Eddings: I was born and raised in Rhode Island. I left for school in Virgina, and I majored in chemistry and worked in the science labs at the University of Virginia and would also work in the summers at Brown University. I thought I wanted run my own cancer research facility, but I remember one summer leaving my job at Brown and thought, "I cannot do this for the rest of my life, confined to one room," Even though I loved it, I was too social for that.

IM: Why did you move to Houston?

ME: A friend of a friend told me about medical sales, so that brought me to Houston. I used to sell MRI machines and CAT Scan machines to hospitals. I was supposed to do that for two years then move back home to Boston, but here I am 14 years later. I love it here.

IM: How did Accel Lifestyle come about?

ME: When people make a change, they do it usually for two reasons. There's a problem that's drawn you to make a change and create a solution, or there's the emotional change that gives you the courage. Six years ago, I was at a lunch meeting, and I got a call that my dad had passed away from a heart attack. I flew home that day. I gave the eulogy, and the following week, after the shock wore off, it dawned on me that I hadn't mentioned his job even though he had been at his same company for over 30 years. It just didn't matter. It only mattered how he made people feel, his humor, how he loved food. I decided that day that whatever I do — work, volunteering, working out — I would give it my all. I also decided that I would start my own company or work for myself in a way that combines all my loves: science, fashion, fitness, and giving back. I didn't know what that was going to be, but now I know it was Accel Lifestyle.

IM: When did you realize there was a need for your product?

ME: My husband was doing crossfit in the mornings, and I was washing his workout clothes, specifically his shirts. I couldn't get the smell out ever, and I tried extra hot cycles and different pods, and I even had a washer machine repair guy come out to the house to make sure it wasn't broken. I knew enough about science that something wasn't right here, and I started researching. The issue I found was bacteria that mixes with the sweat and gets trapped in the material — and bacteria love thin, lightweight workout clothes. So, now that I knew what it was, I looked into what's out there. I was also realizing how much clothes are made in sweatshops — I hadn't really noticed before. About three years ago, I decided I wanted to develop fabric that doesn't hold that smell and that every fiber, down to the tag, will be made in an ethical way.

IM: What was your first step?

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Weathermodels.com

Late July is generally one of the quietest times for our local weather. Barring tropical systems, typically at this point the summer pattern has become entrenched with high temperatures and very few atmospheric triggers for rain aside from the occasional afternoon thunderstorm sparked by the sea-breeze. This is what makes the weather situation this week exceptionally unique. If you have not heard by now, we are expecting a fairly robust front (by July standards) to push through here today which will make the next couple of days a treat. I suppose technically it is a cold front but there really isn't much real cold behind it, but none the less it is a refreshing front which will bring noticeably lower humidity and make mornings and evenings absurdly comfortable (again, by July standards).

As the front makes its way through today rain and a few storms will be possible, but nothing that will be too serious. Most of us could use the rain as the area by and large, has been dry since the beginning of the month. Today you may not really notice a whole lot of change from this front, but come Wednesday morning you certainly will. Wednesday and Thursday morning dew point temperatures will drop into the 50s for many spots except for maybe the immediate coast. Correspondingly the actual temperatures will fall into the upper 60s in many spots especially the further from the coast you get since drier air is easier to cool down at night. During the day on Wednesday and Thursday, temperatures will still rise to about 90 degrees but it definitely won't feel as hot as the heat index will for once closely resemble the actual temperature.

A word about Dew Points.

The dew point temperature is one of the most important figures in meteorology and it gets totally shafted in weather forecasts directed to the public. Basically, the dew point is a measure of moisture in the atmosphere – and a critically important factor in forecasting things like thunderstorms, the heat index or whether we can squeeze out some snowflakes down here in the winter. Relative humidity gets all the publicity, but I find that the dew point is really a far better measure for judging how humid it feels. When the dew point is above 65 degrees it feels muggy out, and the higher it goes the stickier and more oppressive the air feels. During the summer the dew point in our area typically stays somewhere between the upper 60s and the upper 70s. Once the dew point drops into the lower 60s and into the upper 50s you can distinctly notice the air feels dryer.

Ok, so what is all this fuss about the dew point about? Well the dew point is also a fantastic measure of a cold front and especially so in July. To express how rare a front like the one we are getting this week is in July I went back and looked through the hourly dew point readings at Bush Airport (the official climate recording site for Houston) for the last 10 years. Over the 7,440 hours that make up the last 10 Julys, the dew point has been below 60 degrees for a grand total of 35 hours! And 32 of those hours happened during a two day span in 2013. This means in the past 10 Julys the dew point has been below 60, in the comfortable feeling range, just 0.47% of the time.

So with that in mind get out and enjoy the next couple of days because it may be a very long time before we see another "comfortable" day in July.

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