Former BSMB pro launches Moxie

Starting a consumer-focused buyout firm in this economy takes some real guts. One might even say it takes “moxie.”

That would seem to be the thought process behind Moxie Capital, a newly launched buyout firm formed by Bodil Arlander, a founding partner of Bear Stearns Merchant Banking, and former Cowen & Co. Managing Director Lauren Cooks Levitan.

San Francisco-based Moxie got its start in January of this year. Though no formal fund-raising effort has been launched to date, the firm has already scoped out a couple of opportunities, passing on one because it was too small, says a source familiar with the situation has told.

Arlander declined to comment due to the firm’s early stage in development.

It appears that Moxie Capital has yet to file a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

While at Bear Stearns Merchant Banking, Arlander led the firm through successful investments in consumer products companies, such as New York & Co., a women’s apparel retailer that the firm reportedly earned a 12x return on its investment.

The firm’s retail arm also reportedly made 80x its money on an investment in teen apparel chain Aeropostale.

Arlander left Bear Stearns Merchant Banking about a year ago, after parent company Bear Stearns collapsed, but before the firm’s private equity arm struck out on its own under the name Irving Place Capital. Also making an exit during the Bear Stearns shake-up was COO Gwyneth Ketterer, who left the firm to teach at Columbia University’s Business School, according to published reports. —Erin Griffith