Starting from a simple desire to rinse and dry a wetsuit, Exit now offers a range of products based around wetsuit care. Founder Kieran Sammon gives us the lowdown on his niche business starting to make waves in the surf accessories market.
What was the thinking behind launching the company?
After a session I simply wanted to rinse and dry my wetsuit and accessories as efficiently and quickly as possible. I came up with the idea for the XRail in 2014 and built a prototype in my shed. I knew it was a practical and useful invention but had never developed a product from scratch. The Exit business was created then with a vision of creating products to help the user look after their wetsuit and accessories better than anything else on the market.
Tell us about your launch product XRail and its design process.
From the early days of making a prototype in my shed, it took three years and a few wrong turns along the way to find the right designer to work with on the product. Eventually a Dutch designer, Rudo Enserink, came on board and his process involved using 3D printing to refine the design to what you see now, the side view of the XRail is intentionally shaped like a surfboard, the hex structure has three functions (i) to keep the XRails weight to a minimum but maintaining strength; (ii) to reduce the amount of material in the product; and (iii) to allow air to circulate around as many surfaces of the wetsuit as possible, which no other wetsuit hanger can do.
Tell us about the materials you use and what are you as a company doing to be more eco-friendly.
Our aim is to use recycled materials in as many of our products as possible. Where we can’t use recycled materials in a product, we will only go ahead with that product if we see it fulfils a purpose, serves a need in the market and ultimately indirectly reduces waste by lengthening the use and life of the end user’s gear. For example, during the process of designing the HUX(Hang Up XRail) the original design used recycled aluminium but this wasn’t cost effective so we ended up changing the design completely and instead now use recycled fishing net.
How will you market the brand in Europe?
We are actively looking for influencers for Exit across Europe to help us promote our products and the benefits of looking after watersports gear, to reduce environmental impact on the planet. We are also happy to support local watersport gatherings and events with prizes, anything which helps a ‘get out and live’ attitude.
What makes your brand stand out in the surf hanger space?
Quite simply it is the only hanger which carries a wetsuit and five accessories. It is also the widest hanger on the market without being cumbersome, so air can actually get to all parts of your wetsuit. Having said that, Exit is not just a hanger brand, in less than a year we have added four more products to our range. One of our mantras is “Why copy when you can create”. There are lots of wetsuit hangers on the market, most of which are the same and not as clever as the XRail. We are also actively not selling on Amazon, we only sell through retailers and directly from our website, we are here to support local watersport shops.
What’s in the pipeline for you in terms of new products?
Our current range of products is based around wetsuit care but we are now looking at surfboard protection and travel systems. We are also excited to be developing a very interesting B2B offering for how wetsuits are displayed for sale in retail outlets. Made from cardboard and 100% recyclable we see huge potential for this product, for both shop owners and brands supplying display hangers with their wetsuits.
How do you see the surf accessories market over the next few years?
We anticipate huge growth in demand for all things watersports from increasingly discerning buyers over the coming years. Covid shone a light on the importance of exercise for mental health and attracted huge numbers to water-based activities. Pretty much everyone engaged in watersports has a close affinity with nature because they are quite literally immersed in it and therefore have a heightened consciousness of protecting that environment. We at Exit share this ethos and want to bring people products that have an eco conscious genesis and extend the life and usefulness of, what is often expensive, equipment.