England international Chris Simpson talks with International Squash Magazine about ‘eXpede’, his new venture.
Chris, firstly what is eXpede?
eXpede is an activewear company that my business partner Richard Watts and I have created. We are creating products that better deal with the sweaty nature of squash, whilst looking great!
What was the motivation behind eXpede:
Sweat is a nuisance! It gets on your grip, on your goggles and most dangerously on the court. Time and again we see it affecting the flow of a match, with players losing focus after a court clean or glasses wipe. I wanted to find a way that we could combat this better, but also create something that looks great at the same time.
Tell us about your product:
Our first product is the THINK FAST headband. I’ve always worn headbands, but have found traditional headbands become heavy and cumbersome when wet, and bandanas to look a little scruffy. Our headbands are a no-fold bandana style. They have a super absorbent strip across the forehead area to keep sweat from your face, while being lighter for sweat wicking across the side and rear areas. We have a range of nine colours to match your favourite kit - a part of all of us wants to look like a smart Roger Federer!
How has the feedback been?
10% of the world’s top 50 are now using our headbands and we’re also getting great feedback from our customers. What makes me most happy is when a first-time customer buys a single headband, then a week later the same customer purchases two or three more. This is the best feedback we could get, it shows the customer is seeing great value in the product.
How have you found the process of setting up a business?
I have no previous business experience, in fact I’ve only had two jobs in my life; playing squash and selling ice creams at the beach! A year ago I didn’t know where to start, I had no idea about manufacturing, packaging, website design or the legalities of setting up a business, so it’s been a massive learning curve. I’ve been very lucky to have had great guidance along the way from my business partner. As I move towards the later stages of my playing career it’s been a great opportunity to learn about what areas of business I enjoy and may want to pursue after squash.
What does the future hold for eXpede?
We have some exciting partnerships on the horizon working with UNSQUASHABLE to produce a custom headband for their elite team which includes James Willstrop. We are also partnering with 8-time World Champion Nicol David to produce an exclusive range of ‘ND’ headbands.
I am also keen to expand the product line. Product quality is the most important thing to us at eXpede so we are constantly on the hunt for different fabrics which can combat sweat. I’m currently working on ways to improve the sweat band, which as far as I can see hasn’t been changed in 50 years…. watch this space!
But in the meantime, check out our website www.expede.online

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