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VU alum Megan Feely raises capital, preps EDDY Aesthetic's market entries
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Megan Eddings Feely

SINCE MAY 2022, Bay Area-based Founder-CEO and sole designer Megan Eddings Feely has been selling her startup EDDY Aesthetic's elevated-bohemian outfits and accessories for women via e-commerce, department store and wholesale channels.

Feely is raising capital and recently began scouting Nashville and seven other cities as potential sites for brick-and-mortar store locations in one or more of seven test-market states.

EDDY's Nashville pop-up in-person shopping event is set for September 18 (details here). While the decision on where to open its first BAM store in America hangs in the balance, Feely told Venture Nashville that the Bay Area, Texas and New York are the frontrunning regions, currently.

The company's momentum has been fueled in part by investments by least nine "friends and family" investors who have come aboard from among Feely's personal network of Vanderbilt University (VU) alumni.

VU and VU Medical Center have at least 3,200 alumni in the Bay Area.

Also, at least 204 of total VU alumni in the Bay Area hold diplomas from VU's Owen Graduate School of Management, according to Baxter Webb MBA, the director of the Owen's Center for Entrepreneurship.

Feely, who holds a majority of EDDY shares, said she recently closed a $350K raise and has begun a $500K raise, all based on a SAFE convertible agreement.

Proceeds are to go toward product development and digital marketing for EDDY's direct-to-consumer business.

Completion of the current raise would bring total outside financings since inception to nearly $900K, which would provide a "foundation" for a larger, priced round in 2025, she said.

Feely, 36, told Venture Nashville, "We came out of the gate hot."

Sales revenue began cranking-up not long after she traveled to India, where she established vital supply-chain and manufacturing relationships with three independent factories with a combined local workforce of more than 50, and which now produce about 95% of EDDY's products.

In order to establish trusted ties with India partners, two years ago Feely traveled to New Delhi for supplier visits.

She also traveled by car and boat to provinces of northeast India's Assam region, where she met with representatives of non-governing organizations at the Maati Centre. Discussions included sustainable supply chain practices, and related matters.

EDDY aims to contribute up to 1% of its net revenue to support selected causes in communities in which its products are manufactured.

Feely is considering applying for fashion-industry B Corporation status. Meanwhile, in collaboration with ManyMoons, the company has launched a Circular Shop, via which pre-loved and rescued items can be resold.

Feely has previously written about what she calls "the edge that makes Eddy's looks what they are: whimsical, fun, and occasion-worthy, but wearable. I start with fabrics like organic cotton and embellish with details that turn each piece into a statement. Think embroidery, hand beadwork, crochet lace trim, and lots of fringe." Related here - here - and Instagram.

EDDY styles link 1 and link 2

Asked about the sources of EDDY's momentum, Feely cited her long-running enthusiasm for working in fashion industries, as well as her sharp focus on the "event"-oriented segment of elevated California-bohemian fashion -- plus, her team's discipline, which is reflected in such fundamentals as keeping costs of inventory stocks in-line with seasonally adjusted sales and fulfillment commitments.

The CEO emphasized her approach to the business has been honed by the decade she previously spent working in U.S. retailing with San Francisco-based Marine Layer (which has a store on Nashville's 12th Avenue S.), and as a merchant with apparel brands Tory Burch (now in Green Hills) and the ubiquitous Polo Ralph Lauren brand.

Feely's LinkedIn profile shows she also earned an undergraduate degree in human and organizational development -- with concentration on corporate strategy -- while studying at Peabody College at Vanderbilt.

Since dogged pursuit of goals on fashion's ever-shifting field of play is essential, it's also worth noting that Feely once spent a lot of time on the soccer pitch, as player and-or coach.

Currently, Feely has seven contractors and one full-time employee, Austin-based Becca Elledge, who focuses on e-commerce and marketing.

Torie Runzel

Vanderbilt-linked investors who double as advisors include Torie Runzel (operations) and James Elledge (marketing).

At least seven additional Vanderbilt alumni are EDDY investors, but not advisors.

EDDY's outside advisors include New York City-based attorneys with Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman and lending partners Shopify Capital and Wayflyer. Feely relies on Oakland-based Kirby Stenger for photography and uses the accounting platform of Pilot.com Inc.

The company's banking is conducted via San Francisco-based Mercury Technologies Inc.'s Mercury Deposit Program, which operates in alignment with banks. Feely said today she is reviewing EDDY's banking relationships.

Asked her thoughts on an eventual exit, Feely said that firmly establishing both the brand and the company's profitability come first.

For now, all exit options remain on the table -- from remaining a long-term independent and privately owned dispenser of dividends, to sale to a private equity investor or to a fashion conglomerate.

All fashion market segments are crowded with entrants, but many have successful long runs -- and deals can end-up allowing founders to sell control, while retaining substantial interest.

One such example, according to Reuters reporting, was the 2023 sale of Australia-based Zimmerman, in which Advent International acquired control for an estimated 14X core profits, with the company then generating about $230MM annual sales. Members of the Zimmerman family, who had created the company in 1991, retained some interest, along with incumbent investor Style Capital, based in Italy.

The CEO explained she chose the name EDDY for her fashion brand because that's often been her nickname, owing to her maiden name, Eddings.

Now the mother of two toddlers, Feely was born in St. Louis, reared in Arizona and now regularly visits extended family in Charlotte, N.C.

Her husband is James Maxwell "Max" Feely, a San Francisco-based vice president of The Carlyle Group, the global investment firm headquartered in D.C. VNC

. last edited 1341 CDST 14 June 2024

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Tags: B Corp, B Corporation, Baxter Webb, Becca Elledge, Carlisle Group, circular economy, EDDY, EDDY Aesthetic, fashion, giving back, James Elledge, Kirby Stenger, Maati Centre, ManyMoons, Marine Layer, Max Feely, Megan Eddings Feely, Megan Feely, Mercury Technologies, Owen Graduate School of Management, Pillsbury, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, Pilotcom, Polo Ralph Lauren, retailing, Shopify Capital, sustainability, Torey Burch, Torie Runzel, Vanderbilt University, VU Medical Center, Wayflyer

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