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Paragon Advisors

Founded Year



Unattributed | Alive

Total Raised


Last Raised

$7.5M | 3 yrs ago

About Paragon Advisors

Paragon Advisors is a financial advisory firm specializing in comprehensive and confidential management of family wealth.

Headquarters Location

Van Aken District 3401 Tuttle Road, Suite 290

Shaker Heights, Ohio, 44122,

United States


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Latest Paragon Advisors News

Outdoor Voices chairwoman Ashley Merrill lays out how she turned around the once-buzzy athleisure brand after its valuation dropped 64%

Jan 22, 2021

Business Insider An icon in the shape of a person's head and shoulders. It often indicates a user profile. Log in US Edition Registration on or use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Close icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. It indicates a way to close an interaction, or dismiss a notification. Good Get it now on using the button below. Courtesy of Ashley Merrill; Outdoor Voices; Samantha Lee/Insider This story is available exclusively to Business Insider subscribers. Become an Insider and start reading now. Lunya co-founder and CEO Ashley Merrill joined Outdoor Voices as chairwoman in June. In March 2020, Outdoor Voices founder and CEO Ty Haney stepped down amid reports of disagreements with the board of directors. The company reported its first profitable month on record in June. If anyone knows how difficult it is to be a female founder in retail, it's Ashley Merrill. Since June, Merrill has been working double duty as both co-founder and CEO of the women's sleepwear brand, Lunya and recently appointed chairwoman and acting CEO of Outdoor Voices. As a long-time fan of the brand and its founder Ty Haney, Merrill said her initial plan was simply to invest in the buzzy athleisure startup . However, when reports emerged of trouble brewing internally at the company, she saw an opportunity to lend a hand to a fellow female founder in need of guidance. "I was running a company that had a lot of similarities to Outdoor Voices in many ways, in terms of being very laser-focused on a very particular niche, audience, and message," Merrill told Insider, noting that both brands sell loungewear catered to a predominantly millennial female customer base. "When I heard that it was in a tough place, I felt like I might be able to be useful." Founded in 2014, Outdoor Voices established itself as the cool girl alternative to brands like Lululemon, with its brightly colored leggings and crop-tops and its mission of "freeing fitness from performance." The company — and its ubiquitous #DoingThings hashtag — quickly became a social media darling, thanks in part to what The New Yorker's Jia Tolentino described as clothes "that make the wearer look as if she were put on earth to be viewed on Instagram, posing against a forest vista in flamingo-colored spandex and a smile." Still, for all its fanfare and adoring followers, behind the scenes, Outdoor Voices was floundering. A post shared by Outdoor Voices (@outdoorvoices) The 'unsexy' road to profitability Coming from a more "resource-constrained" company with significantly less early-stage venture capital funding, Merrill knew her first and most pressing task at Outdoor Voices would be cost-cutting. This involved shifting the team's "grow at all costs" mentality that is often intrinsic to fledging startups to a mindset of "working efficiently and spending within our means," Merrill said. The overhaul also involved a number of "unsexy" organizational changes, including tweaks as basic as installing a better folder file storage system and implementing a daily standup meeting for corporate employees. Merrill also worked to mitigate leadership gaps by bringing on new hires and remains actively involved in the ongoing search for a new chief executive. For Outdoor Voices, Merrill's arrival marked the start of a much-needed new era for the brand. In March 2020, Outdoor Voices announced that Haney was stepping down from the company she founded while retaining her seat on the board of directors. Reports at the time  described 31-year-old Haney as "mercurial" and "difficult," clashing with fellow executives like then-chairman, Mickey Drexler, former creative director of J.Crew. Adding fuel to the fire, the brand was plagued with financial woes that led its valuation to drop from $110 million in 2018 to just $40 million at the beginning of 2020. Following Haney's departure, an additional 15 employees — who The New York Times reported were all female — were laid off, and interim CEO Cliff Moskowitz was tasked with overseeing the company and its largely male board of directors. Moskowitz is the former president of luxury fashion investment firm, Interluxe. Both Moskowitz and Drexler departed the brand in June of 2020. "There is an unsettling trend lately to interview ex-employees of female-founded companies and report their claims either at face value or without any context," Haney wrote in an Instagram post shortly after the announcement in March. "These are trends that will only serve to drive women back out of the board room." Now, with the help of Merrill, Haney has returned in a more hands-on capacity, working alongside the chairwoman to reclaim the reins of Outdoor Voices. Together, the two are striving to breathe new life into the brand and get it back on track by going back to basics. "We buckled down and made a theme for 2020 of foundation setting and we really focused on that," Merrill said. "That meant getting our fundamentals in gear. It wasn't about doing big, sexy marketing campaigns but instead saying, 'Hey, let's make this a business that has potential for longevity and that can really bring its mission to life. '"  Outdoor Voices founder Ty Haney speaks onstage at a 2019 event in New York City. Just six months in, Merrill's strategic overhaul has already translated to results. The company reported its first profitable month on record in June, and has managed to maintain profitability every month but one since. And though the marketing budget was slashed by 60% as part of an effort to curb costs and streamline spending, Outdoor Voices increased its customer base by 50% compared to the same time last year, according to the company. Merrill said an early focus was increasing internal transparency — particularly around past financial mismanagement and leadership gaps — as part of an effort to improve "clarity and alignment." This proved vital as the team worked to come back from a tight March and find ways to improve the business while simultaneously navigating the onset of the coronavirus outbreak. Much like its retail peers, Outdoor Voices was forced to temporarily close all 13 of its brick-and-mortar stores early in the pandemic. The company decided to ultimately permanently shutter two of those stores that Merrill said did not "fit OV's objectives moving forward," though she noted it intends to continue opening physical locations in the future. "We were able to raise our e-commerce sales considerably and get to a place where even now that we've reopened brick-and-mortar retail, we're just running in a really healthy, efficient, collaborative way that we believe this brand always could do," she said. Though she declined to share a breakdown of sales, Merrill said a majority comes from e-commerce. According to Terry Sullivan, founder of Paragon Advisors and a long-time investor in Outdoor Voices, Merrill's appointment has been instrumental in redirecting the brand to its roots. "The previous power struggle wasn't good," Sullivan said, regarding the tension between Haney and Drexler. "Compared to having a male [leader] in a primarily female brand, it has a stronger influence when a female is the face of the company." While Sullivan was quick to not place guilt on Drexler for the challenges that befell the company, he said the J.Crew alum's sensibilities didn't always seem to align with that of Outdoor Voices. For example, Sullivan said he noticed an uptick in marketing emails under Drexler that have since decreased significantly under Merrill's tutelage. Both Drexler and Haney did not respond to Insider's request to comment for this story. "Not that he was to blame for everything because I think there were some issues on both sides, but it was like the J.Crew model where you'd get an email blast every day on a sale item," he said. "It's not like that anymore, and it looks like some of the product line is more unique like it used to be." While Merrill did not overlap with Drexler, she said Outdoor Voices is now "running a very focused, targeted marketing approach," adding that "email is something we use when we have something valuable to share." The dangers of the 'cult of personality' Steve Dennis, president and founder of the retail consulting firm Sageberry Consulting, told Insider that while the so-called "cult of personality" around business leaders like Haney can be damaging, it can also be instrumental in establishing a differentiated brand identity and building a loyal fanbase. "Certainly [Outdoor Voices] got a lot of press around not only the founder but this ethos of female empowerment, which I think conceptually is certainly interesting," Dennis said. "It's a way to distinguish your brand from other players in the athleisure category, whether it's Nike or Under Armour, and create positioning and personality around it." Much like her contemporaries such as Glossier's Emily Weiss, Haney leaned into her role as a highly visible figurehead, a strategy that ultimately drove sales and lured new shoppers to Outdoor Voices. Her status as a female founder also proved helpful in bringing on investors, particularly as venture capitalists sought to ride on the coattails of the buzz surrounding the rise of woman-led retail startups suddenly proliferating across the industry. "Even if investors were just being opportunistic about a trend — which certainly was the case — it worked in our favor being in that first wave of DTC female founders," Haney told Inc. in an interview last November. "And we definitely pulled that narrative out when it suited us, particularly when we were trying to differentiate ourselves from established companies in the traditionally male-dominated activewear space." However, Haney saw that serving as a poster child for leading a hip, female-focused, millennial-favorite DTC brand also had its drawbacks. "We really leaned into that story to grow this thing, and we became press darlings. But that's all great until it's not because we also made ourselves targets," Haney told Inc.  Haney's predicament is certainly not new. Founders ranging from Apple's Steve Jobs to Tesla's Elon Musk have long vacillated from being adored and hated in the public eye. Many founders find the skills they need to start a company are quite different than those needed to run a company long term. Dennis cautioned that a chief executive who is tied inextricably to their brand can also prevent a company from finding new pathways for growth. In the case of Outdoor Voices, he said the brand's next focus should be customer acquisition and finding ways to take it from a niche athletic wear company to the mainstream. "The issue with [Haney] in particular is she's very heavily involved with the identity of the brand," Dennis said. "That's a particular challenge when you've got a founder whose personality is really inherent to the brand image. That makes it a little bit more complicated perhaps to get the business to the next level." The Outdoor Voices flagship store in New York City. Bethany Biron/Business Insider 'It's taken us a long time to get women in these seats' Though women now hold a record 12% of retail chief executive positions — including 10 within the Fortune 500 companies, thanks to the recent promotion of Lauren Hobart to CEO of Dick's Sporting Goods — the number of female leaders at the top still lags well behind their male counterparts. However, as more women ascend to the top, an increasing number are also facing significant scrutiny for alleged toxic workplaces and mismanagement at the helm. For Merrill, her appointment as Outdoor Voices chairwoman came not only on the heels of Haney's unceremonious ousting, but also the resignations of female leaders at startups including Away, The Wing, Reformation, Refinery29, and, among others. Like Haney, many of these female leaders are also well-known personalities with large social media followings, whose names are synonymous with the brands they created. When asked her thoughts about the portrayal of these women, many of whom she viewed not only as peers but also as role-models, Merrill let out a deep sigh. "I feel conflicted about the whole thing," she said. "I'm incredibly disappointed. I would wake up and read the papers and see these women who I knew, who I looked at for inspiration, and see the chance has gone for them. I can't help but feel like it's a step back. "  While Merrill said she believes there is truth to each of the stories and that leaders regardless of gender must take accountability for their actions, she wishes the discourse would make room for growth. Given the dearth of women leading major companies, she said she feels there is "a loss in losing these women leaders." "These women felt important to the women's movement and I would love to have the focus be on how we can continue to do our best and be better," she said. "I do get worried when I see them stepping down. It's like, 'who's my daughter going to look up to', you know?" For Merrill, the wave of departures by female founders has ultimately served as a learning opportunity, a moment of reflection for her to step back and identify ways to improve. "It's taken us a long time to get women in these seats," she said. "At Outdoor Voices, we have this expression 'progress, not perfection.' I really believe in it and think it's really empowering. Even when I look at myself as a leader, I'm not perfect and I have made mistakes. I challenge myself every day to continue to improve across the board." She continued: "How can I be a more inspiring leader? How can I be more fair? How can I be more clear? How can I be the kind of person I would want to work for? It's a never-ending journey." 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Paragon Advisors Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  • When was Paragon Advisors founded?

    Paragon Advisors was founded in 1996.

  • Where is Paragon Advisors's headquarters?

    Paragon Advisors's headquarters is located at Van Aken District, Shaker Heights.

  • What is Paragon Advisors's latest funding round?

    Paragon Advisors's latest funding round is Unattributed.

  • How much did Paragon Advisors raise?

    Paragon Advisors raised a total of $7.5M.

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