How Finisterre is paving the way for sustainable brands

Founder Tom Kay tells CR how he went from persuading bank managers to take sustainability seriously to running a much-loved clothes brand with a mission to get more of us to connect with the sea

Twenty years ago, Finisterre founder Tom Kay designed and produced his first fleece. He had no fashion, branding, marketing or design background, and had in fact studied biology with a marine focus at university, before taking a job in London as a chartered surveyor. It was this job, ironically, that sparked the idea for Finisterre.

“When there’s something that’s really important to you, and it’s taken away, you really appreciate it,” he tells CR. “At that point in time, when you’re in your early 20s, you’re like, right, let’s get on with life, and it’s pretty exciting to think about the future.

“But the idea of doing what I was doing for the rest of my life wasn’t very appealing – so I thought the way I could bring my passion for things that were important to me was through a brand – a brand that’s a set of beliefs and values, and evokes an emotional reaction in the community.”

All images courtesy Finisterre

The thing that was missing from Kay’s city job was the sea – something that had been ever-present in his childhood growing up in Cornwall. From the beginning, Kay says he had a clear idea of what he wanted to achieve – “ a business that would be connected to the sea, with strong surfing heritage, making products in the right way, with the right sort of fabrics and that provided what you actually needed”.