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Talking Ocean Barriers and Brand Values with Finisterre Founder, Tom Kay

‘Finisterre: Southwesterly 7 or gale 8, severe gale 9 later. Squally showers. Moderate, occasionally poor. Sea state rough increasing very rough…

Born in 2003 and named after one of the most rugged headlands that bears the full brunt of North Atlantic gales, Finisterre started with a simple, innovative fleece designed to keep out the post-surf winter wave chill. Although starting off small, working from a cliff-top workshop in the picturesque village of St Agnes, Cornwall, founder Tom Kay had big visions for the brand, and was determined to push product development in an industry he believed was lacking behind.

Fast forward a couple of decades and Finisterre has gone from strength to strength, with a multitude of different ocean elements being embodied by the brand. Still based from the top of an ocean-battered cliff, Finisterre now employs over 100 people, with nine stores up and down the UK selling a wide range of different products.

Image: Tom Kay, Finisterre

After such a successful 20 years creating functional and sustainable clothing for those that share a love of the sea, we’re delighted to welcome Tom Kay to the latest episode of our podcast. Here, Tom sits down with host, Laura Nesbitt, to discuss how his lifetime passion for protecting our oceans continues to resonate through Finisterre as a brand.

“The spirit of what I started nearly 20 years ago is still here. That’s my role as founder – to guard that spirit and make sure it lives and breathes at every single touch point, so that buyers feel that in the brand”.

Tom explains how they have have taken a pioneering approach to making better and more sustainable products, challenging and innovating and seeking alternatives to what has gone before since day one.

“We’re on a journey of learning, discovery, growing and effecting change. The B Corp mantra is about growing in the right way, which is embedded in our business”.

With changes in consumer behaviour, Tom discusses how the brand has had to evolve over the years to match new habits, and ,like many, sees Patagonia at the forefront of innovative change in the outdoor apparel industry.

“What Patagonia have done is the best example of a business walking the talk. I can’t say we are there as a company, but everyone here is aiming to be better as a business and a brand each day”. 

A a brand, Finisterre continue to be passionate about increasing ocean accessibility. This includes their involvement with the ‘Seasuit Project’, a full-coverage suit and Hijab made from recycled sea waste.

“For me, being an able bodied, white, male, I don’t have any barriers to accessing the ocean, but it’s become clear that not everyone has that opportunity.” 

Book tickets now to hear Tom Kay speaking at the Blue Earth Summit, and join the conversation on LinkedIn.


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