Planet over profit: an interview with clothing brand Finisterre

Posted in: Environment

Posted on: 10.08.2021

Finisterre is a pioneering, sustainable clothing brand, built to inspire a love of the sea. Started in 2003 by Tom Kay from a small flat above a surf shop, Finisterre has stuck to its founding principles of product, environment, and people, ever since.   

A Good Energy customer since 2005, we caught up with Adele, their Positive Impact Manager, to hear more. 

'Sustainability as standard, since 2003' is written proudly on your website. What are some of the things you are most proud of?  

There are key milestones throughout our history that we are particularly proud of. The day we employed the UK's first wetsuit recycling technician. Our huge efforts to grow a merino wool flock here in the UK and the eradication of single use non-compostable plastic from our supply chain, spear-headed by our Leave no Trace packaging. 

But it’s not just about the big achievements or hero stories, it’s how we’ve always been. Product, environment, and people have always been considered above profit. 

Fixing the broken fashion industry: how are you making fashion circular? 

Our products are designed with circularity in mind. Firstly, they are made to last, with high quality, sustainable materials, and techniques. We use a plant-based rubber for our wetsuits in place of neoprene which is traditionally used. We use natural fibres like organic cotton, wool,  hemp and linen. And if we use synthetic materials for durability, we make sure they are GRS certified recycled fabrics to close the loop on plastic production and waste. 

The most sustainable product is the one you already own, so we ask; can you extend its life? We offer our own repair service, which is very popular with Finisterre customers, and we run workshops to teach people how to repair their own clothes too. From repairing, you learn about durability, and you learn about how to make the design better and more repairable in the future. 

We are committed to creating truly circular products, products which have extended lifespans. In the next steps of our circularity journey, we will be launching a resale platform later this year, where customers will be able to trade in and buy pre-loved Finisterre gear.

Ultimately at the end of a product’s lifespan, work is underway to close the loop with fibre-to-fibre recycling, creating t-shirts and fleeces from jeans, wetsuits from wetsuits, etc!

How does being with Good Energy help you to achieve your sustainable goals? 

In 2005 we moved into our moved into our current home at Wheal Kitty Workshops and we registered the site with Good Energy. And we’ve grown with you from there – with seven locations currently under your supply and plans underway to move more.

Not only does this massively reduce our own carbon footprint, but it also means we can be an example to our supply chain and our customers too. 

Why was becoming a B Corp so important to you? 

At Finisterre, sustainability has been built into our DNA from the very beginning. We were very proud to become a certified B Corp in 2018.

It has 100% challenged us to be even more sustainable in everything we do – and every three years the Business Impact Assessment that you go through gets harder, driving you to do better and better.  

We’ve set the goal of being carbon neutral by 2030 – and we have recently done a full carbon assessment of our business to work out where we are starting from. With some of our energy suppliers, getting this data was quite painful, whereas with Good Energy it was really straightforward and a joy to pick up the phone and speak to a real person.

You can read all about our plans in our Positive Impact Report 

What’s it like to work somewhere that cares about the planet? 

People are really motivated to work somewhere where they are making a difference, especially if in the past they have worked for larger organisations that have less focus on their social and environmental impact and more on the bottom line. This means we get a lot of applications for any role that we advertise. 

Particularly where I work in St Agnes, Cornwall, our mission to love and protect the sea serves as a constant source of inspiration. I have learnt so much working for a company that is always considering its impact - understanding the decisions and choices the business makes helps you to consider the choices you make too.  

What is your message to other businesses? 

Reducing your impact is essential. We have to take that action. We are running a business, but we can do that as responsibly as possible, and preserving resources is a huge part of that. Sharing learnings and what has worked for us with other likeminded businesses drives the biggest change. When we're talking about tackling the climate crisis, there should be no competition between businesses, we are all in this together.  

Watch Tom Kay in conversation with our founder, Juliet.

Read the full case study over on our business site.

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