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Interview with NOTCH® founder Chris Healy

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If you’ve not heard of NOTCH® yet, we’re about to introduce you to a great way to celebrate your running achievements. Wearing your running medals around your neck every day might show off the races you’re most proud of, but it’s not wholly practical. And probably not entirely appropriate for most working environments either.

NOTCH®, however, is a subtle, bespoke way to carry your biggest achievements with you wherever you go. It’s kind of like a charm bracelet for runners. Pick a band (coloured cord or black leather) and then fill it up with small engraved ‘charms’ (aka a Notch).

There’s no limit to what you can have on your NOTCH®, and there are lots to choose from based on common running achievements. You can also customise them with personalised engravings if what you want doesn’t already exist.

What we particularly like are the Collections, which enable you to give back to your favourite running  communities. For example, the White Star Running NOTCH® collection has a bespoke range for all its quirky races. Not only that, if you buy from the collection directly, proceeds go back to the White Star Running team to help raise valuable funds for future races.

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WSR NOTCH collection

SHOP THE WHITE STAR RUNNING NOTCH COLLECTION

We’ve got our very own ‘RUN Deep’ NOTCH®, which we were very kindly gifted at the National Running Show in January this year. We had the chance to meet the team and watch our Notch being engraved, to see how it all works. The quality is amazing and the band is definitely sweatproof (yes, we have been running with ours).

We thought it would be great to chat with founder of NOTCH® Chris Healy. In our exclusive interview, we find out more about the company, how it started and why Notches are proving so popular.

RD: Can you tell us a little bit about what a NOTCH® is and how you came up with the idea?

CH: NOTCH® is a fashionable, stylish, go-anywhere bracelet, designed for Notches, like charms, but different. Each Notch you add to your bracelet, represents a goal or milestone you’ve achieved, as each one is engraved to tell your story of success.

I’ve been a passionate runner for many years and had amassed a collection of medals for dozens of 10Ks, half-marathons and marathons to the point where the kitchen drawer was overflowing. It was the same for everyone at my running club too. All the training for the next race or big event, the thrill of the day and crossing the finishing and line and finally, the coveted medal being placed around your neck, only for it to be confined to the overflowing kitchen drawer by Monday morning. I just thought that other than race day, there had to be a way for people to wear their achievements with pride, every day.

Then, during a long run one morning, a light bulb went off. A kind of charm bracelet would be the perfect solution. One that appealed to women and men, boys and girls. All ages. Different bracelet designs and colour options. An easy way for charms to be added but nothing delicate. Charm not really the best word for it. Must be robust. Suitable for work, training, going out, swimming. A practical, stylish, go-anywhere bracelet that looked cool and would attract interest. And a name and brand that conveyed the idea of accomplishing one achievement and moving on to the next. 12 miles later, NOTCH® had been born and my head was spinning.

But what would a Notch look like? How could it be engraved? How could a bracelet clasp be strong and firm yet easy to open without the Notches falling off? 18 months later, after long hours of drawings, product design, research, development and testing, forming a business with trusted partners Mike and Phil, constant advice and encouragement from my wife Gill, building a website and forging links with the amazing running event community, we were ready to go.

Then on July 15th 2019, a lady called Wendy placed an order the very first NOTCH® bracelet and an engraved ‘Fitmums’ Notch. It’s been a busy time since then and we’re delighted to say that 30% of sales are to people who come back for more Notches to celebrate their growing achievements.

RD: Why do you think NOTCH® is so popular with runners, and other sports people?

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CH: NOTCH® is for everyone who sets themselves and accomplishes a goal, however modest or difficult. And that’s what makes our bracelets and Notches so appealing to the running community. Whether getting off the couch to start training for a first 10K, or crossing the finish line of an ultramarathon or 24-hour endurance run, everyone has set themselves goal and worked hard to achieve it. Justifiably, they feel positive and proud about what they have achieved and NOTCH® recognises that fact, in a subtle, stylish yet very personal way.

NOTCH for runners

RD: What are the most popular NOTCH® types that you sell? Is it mainly people who want to celebrate their sporting achievements, or has it expanded out from there now?

CH: Running events are our most popular Notch category and we have a mission to offer every organised event in the UK, regardless of distance, available as a standard Notch. So, if your readers find there are any gaps in our ‘Full List’ Notches, just let us know and we’ll get their favourite events added.

That’s apart from parkrun! Hundreds of parkrunners ask us for standard parkrun Notches every week, but without parkrun’s blessing, we can’t offer them as a standard Notch, although we can engrave anything via our personalised engraving service. Here’s hoping Paul Sinton-Hewitt’s a RUN deep reader! We’d love to put together an official parkrun Notch Collection, with some of the proceeds going to support parkrun’s community and charitable causes.

But more than half of what we sell is custom engraved. Runners are keen to add finish times and we’ve found that people from many different aspects of life want to celebrate their achievements through NOTCH®. We’ve engraved Notches for most sports, personal milestones, positive mental health, academic achievement, weight loss, dog agility, even a marriage proposal!

RD: Can you tell as a little more about the choice of charities you support and why it’s important to support these causes?

CH: NOTCH® has great potential among the fundraising community and we hope that our range of charity Notches will grow, with profits from sales of specific charity Notches donated directly to charity. We have close relationships with charities that are important to us including Mind, the mental health charity and Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust. And we’re about to embark on a large, new initiative with Children with Cancer UK.

RD: You’re still relatively new as a company; what has the reception been like to NOTCH® and has it surprised you?

CH: We knew NOTCH® felt like a great idea. But what sounds good in theory doesn’t always work out that way in practice. But the running community has really embraced NOTCH®. Not only runners themselves, but event organisers large and small all over the country have embraced the NOTCH® concept and helped spread the message far and wide to their runners. We are forever grateful for their help.

RD: How is a NOTCH® made? And are they designed to withstand the perils of even the most hardened trail runner, for example?

CH: Notches are made from stainless steel or anodised aluminium although we’re about to introduce brass and we’re testing some precious metal options. The bracelet clasp is stainless steel and the bracelets themselves are made from leather braid or sports cord. Everything is waterproof and won’t rust, so fine for the shower, sea and hot tub! We’ve tested everything rigorously for use in all sports, indoor and outside of course. The clasp features two super-strong neodymium magnets so they’re very secure yet safe too.

Shop NOTCH® here: www.mynotch.co.uk

Follow NOTCH® on social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter

NOTCH running bracelet

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