Here at Such & Such we are big fans of a good story; we love hearing about the people behind great products and inspiring companies. We want to learn about their journey, inspiration and motivation. Whilst stories are good, the quality of a product, its design, the materials used and build quality are paramount. Every now and then we fall in love with a designer, maker or brand that not only has a compelling story but is making exceptional products. Our current crush is the cold water surf company, Finisterre.
Founded by Tom Kay in 2002, Finisterre was created “to promote cold water surfing, build products for it and lead in both”. Tom spent most of his childhood in or around the sea and it was therefore a natural progression for him to study Marine Biology at Bristol University. After graduating, Tom moved to London and became a Chartered Surveyor, however, soon realised this was not what he wanted to do. He returned to Cornwall to start an ethically-motivated cold water surf brand that would challenge the big corporate surf companies.
(Finisterre Founder – Tom Kay)
From humble beginnings in Tom’s attic, Finisterre is now headquartered in a converted workshop perched above the Cornish seaside town of St Agnes. Its open plan office has boards and wetsuits, ready and waiting, because there are no set office hours and so if the conditions are right, the team is out the door and in the water.
Tom has created the only cold water surf company in the world, a company inspired by his passion for the water and the lifestyle surrounding cold-water surfing. Finisterre is committed to making environmentally-friendly, innovative, technical clothes from recycled or natural fibres. The company has no interest in getting cheap clothes made out in China that they then print a large logo on. Finisterre’s products are built to last and are developed based on the fundamental needs of cold-water surfers, who often travel to and live in cold climates such as Norway and Alaska. With the needs identified and the brand’s strong belief that form follows function, focus is placed on the technical attributes that the product requires to fulfill those needs. Finisterre carefully considers the materials, construction and design, and then tests each product with a group of committed cold-water surfers.
Much of the brand’s clothing is made from Merino wool. Unlike synthetics, Merino is an active fibre that reacts to changes in body temperature. As a result, it helps you stay warm when the weather is cold, dries quickly and also breathes once warmed up. Whilst still sourcing much of the Merino needed for its clothes from Australia, since 2007 Finisterre has been working with Lesley Prior in Devon, the guardian of the last 28 Bowmont sheep on the planet, to develop a legitimate UK fine fibre supply chain. The rare Bowmont breed was created 25 years ago by researchers in Scotland, who crossed British White Shetland Sheep with New Zealand Merinos to create a breed that produced merino-soft wool but were able to withstand the hardy UK weather.
While the amount of wool currently produced from the Bowmont flock is still relatively small, Finisterre is now able to use the wool in some of its products, such as the Bowmont Ribbed Scarf and this Bowmont Jumper. Over time, Finisterre ultimately hopes that the yield will grow large enough to be used as its main source of merino wool. Finisterre is keenly focused on ensuring that its business has a low environmental impact and won the Observer Ethical Business award in 2008.
A business needs to make money to survive and prosper but that does not need to be its sole aim. We find that the companies and brands that inspire us the most focus on living the lifestyle they are inspired by, pushing boundaries and forging their own path. For example, one of the annual targets for the founder of Burton Snowboards, Jake Burton, is to spend 100 days a year on the mountain. We want a brand to be passionate about what it stands for, to produce outstanding products, to be innovative and as a result of these attributes, inspiring. Finisterre certainly ticks all these boxes.