Many Alice users are here to learn how to turn a problem into a real product. Megan Eddings quit her job in medical sales three years ago to build her fitness company, Accel Lifestyle. The word “lifestyle” is in the name because one day, Accel will expand beyond its current range of athletic shirts to pop-up shops, then hopefully sold-out stadium fitness experiences. But the whole thing started with a smelly T-shirt. Edding’s husband’s, to be exact.

The couple are both fitness enthusiasts and when they worked out together, Eddings noted that there was one particular shirt that “activated” every time her husband started to sweat. She tried a super-hot wash cycle, lavender dryer sheets, whatever she could think of to do away with the dank odor. “I started thinking to myself, We live in this day and age where there have been so many advances in everything. Why do we still have stinky workout clothes?” she remembers.

Megan Eddings

As a chemist, she was able to research the problem. Smells are caused by bacteria hiding between the fibers of a garment. “It’s not the sweat,” she explains. “The nutrients from the sweat are food for the bacteria.” The smells appear when the bacteria release gas or die -- and in most fabrics, they don’t go away. So Eddings realized her solution was creating a new fabric.

Eddings had no experience in the textile world. “I’m blown away by the number of people who didn’t know me but were willing to share their expertise,” she says now. “Asking for help, and perseverance, and surrounding myself with a positive community was the formula for success.”

But she never could have guessed that her new industry was a minefield. It took Eddings two-and-a-half years to create her own fabric, Prema, and it’s now patent-pending in 120 countries. But she almost lost ownership of it due to shady collaborators. The knitter (fabric manufacturer) she originally hired threatened to sell the fabric out from under her unless she placed an order of “thousands and thousands” of yards. Luckily, she had all the legal documents she needed to stop him. More recently, Accel’s women’s line had to debut after the men’s line because “the women’s factory were shysters.”

But now, it looks like smooth sailing. Eddings decided to sell her products on her website rather than wholesaling to bigger stores because she realized the pricing structure didn’t work in her favor. Within the year, Eddings expects that the clothing, which will expand from just shirts to a full line of exercise apparel, will be available at high-end fitness studios and country clubs.

That’s not the only exciting thing in the offing. Eddings is working on other fabric patents, and she’s looking at partnering with other clothing companies interested in using those textiles. And it’s all thanks to a sweaty shirt.