The entrepreneurial spirit of Raven Williams is what drove him to set up The Common Wanderer in the first place. Having lived in St Ives most of his life and seeing businesses pop up as more and more tourists flocked to the artistic West Cornwall haven, he saw a gap in the market for a brand which championed adventure, and spoke to the surfers and skaters, roamers and seekers who sought a way of life outside the confines of the daily 9-5.
Lying in the heart of St Ives, The Common Wanderer stocks brands which share his thirst for getting out into the wild. Either found in the line-up at Porthmeor, camping out around Cape Cornwall, living in a bell tent or chatting to his community of common wanderers, we managed to catch him for a moment to tell us more.
Photo by Nick Pumphrey
How long have you been wandering?
The Common Wanderer opened its doors in August 2015, but was conceived somewhere in a library 6 months prior.
With a focus on sustainability and design, what initially inspired The Common Wanderer? What are the founding principles of the store?
The idea for Common Wanderer came during my final year of studying at Falmouth university. Sustainable product design, was something that combined creativity with purpose & ultimately I wanted to build on these values and do something that could begin to promote a more considered approach towards people, the objects we use and our environment.
I often sought inspiration from our local landscape & as I began to explore life outside of the library, I felt there was an opportunity to offer a different take on a traditional outdoor shops. The Common Wanderer was born out of a desire to champion the new wave of outdoor companies that seek to balance function, style, and sustainability.
From surfing epicentre to popular coastal fishing town and tourist hub, you get your fair share of folk through the door. Can you tell us about the community that revolves around the store?
Growing up in St.Ives, I have been super lucky to be surrounded by the Arts, and something that has always fuelled my imagination. The town is special to so many people & I think most people gravitate towards the place for similar reasons, great walks, beaches fostering creative community engaged with their environment.
Being in the shop most days, it’s great to strike up conversations about all manner of things, and I like the face to face aspect of traditional bricks & mortar shops. It’s great to talk openly about our concept & offer transparency about the products and brands we represent.
With a thirst for getting out and exploring… what does your typical day to day, week to week look like?
So my day starts with a short cycle into work, and hopefully ends with a surf & a beer. The shop keeps me pretty busy both in and out of hours, but the weekends I always make sure to set out early(ish) and go roaming with friends for waves & new camping spots. I like to keep active so it tends to involve surfing, skateboarding, or cycling (my latest thing).
Raven's Kit List
What is it that engages your customers when it comes to sustainable fashion and design?
I think increasingly people are seeking value, this may be the origin of the product, it may be the durability, it may be the paired back aesthetics. We tend to stay in line with Dieter Rams and take a ‘Less is more’ approach. I like to think of outdoor products in the same way, if something can work in both an outdoor & casual context you get more diversity when in comes to a product’s use & lifespan.
Our crowd is so varied in St.Ives, so we never know who will walk through the door, we just try & be open & inclusive to anybody who loves getting out and exploring, good ethics, and a healthy respect for our shores. We are always happy to offer advice on spots to visit and always try to maintain a transparency about the companies and products we carry.
We all have our go to items… what is your personal favourite bit of gear from the Finisterre collection? What essentials do you pack when outward bound?
So essentials, I always start with a Merino base layer, I like stuff that needs minimal care & those things can be worn in both performance and casual contexts, for days on end. I have been loving the lighter weight insulation so the Aeris for me offers loads of versatility, I run in it, cycle in it & chuck it on post surf.
Where are you wandering next? What do you have lined up this year?
This year we will have our hands tied, with what is often a busy summer period. No plans to expand beyond our bricks & mortar, but rather keep doing what we are doing whilst making the most of our environment when we get the down time.