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A new leader takes the reins at Outdoor Voices



Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Gap Inc. inks a deal with Yeezy, Mayor Anne Hidalgo wins reelection in Paris, and Outdoor Voices gets a new leader. Have a productive Monday. 

– M-OV-ing on. Female founders have been stepping down at a quick pace recently, owning up to alleged missteps and mistreatment of employees. But how will these female-founded companies carry on after such setbacks? 

Athleisure brand Outdoor Voices is among the first lay the groundwork for its next phase. The company imploded in February as founder Ty Haney resigned as CEO amid criticism of her leadership from employees, financial losses, and a reported power struggle with Mickey Drexler, the former J. Crew and Gap Inc. executive who until recently headed the board of directors. 

Now, Ashley Merrill, founder of women’s sleepwear brand Lunya, is joining the company as its chair. Merrill’s venture capital arm NaHCO3—where she serves as principal alongside her husband, Marc Merrill, the co-founder and former co-CEO of Riot Games—made an investment of an undisclosed size in the company. 

“As someone who has tried to run a business with an eye toward profitability, I’m looking to help OV make that transition,” Merrill told me on Sunday. 

Merrill founded Lunya in 2014—the same year that Haney founded Outdoor Voices. But Merrill’s apparel brand was self-funded, so she ran the company with aims of slower, more sustainable growth—compared to Outdoor Voices’ venture-backed “growth-at-all-costs” strategy, she says. Merrill hopes that experience will translate to guiding OV into its next chapter.

It’s unusual for a female founder of a different business to step in and take the reins from a high-profile startup peer. Merrill’s leadership of OV—working alongside Haney, who is retaining her board seat—as she searches for a new CEO for the brand will be one to watch. Could her appointment pose a model for other struggling women-led startups—like, perhaps, The Wing, another company where a co-founder and CEO who developed the brand resigned but remained on the board? Time will tell.

Read my full story—and more about Merrill’s plans for Outdoor Voices—here.

Plus, a reminder: Fortune is accepting nominations until June 30 for our annual 40 Under 40 list. Please submit candidates here

And one more note: many of you have written in recent weeks (and long before) to ask that the Broadsheet capitalize Black when writing about Black women and people. After a style change at Fortune, we will now be doing so. Thank you to everyone who wrote in.

Emma Hinchliffe

Lyron Foster is a Hawaii based African American Musician, Author, Actor, Blogger, Filmmaker, Philanthropist and Multinational Serial Tech Entrepreneur.

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