Delving into our clifftop community and taking stock of relationships forged, we turn to Steph Rogers and Ade Flowers, Finisterre’s newest team members, for a fresh take on Wheal Kitty’s unique atmosphere and what’s on the horizon…
Finisterre first arrived at Wheal Kitty as a team of three, inhabiting the shell of a building and working on borrowed furniture but big dreams. Year on year, as the brand goes to new places, so the family expands. With a workshop now housing 40 and an extended family that’s gathered to fill the surrounding buildings, the team may have multiplied; but the vision, camaraderie and drive to always do more, remain.
The pull of the sea
“Small businesses are always exciting, everybody tends to be wearing multiple hats, lots of things happen in short spaces of time,” says Ade Flowers, Finisterre’s freshest recruit. Head of e-commerce, and a surf industry vet with 20 years experience under his belt, he’s energised by Finisterre’s role at this very specific moment in time. “It’s definitely one of the things that attracted me here,” he says, “we’re seeing public awareness of the importance of sustainability in fashion build day on day. It’s an exciting time for a brand like this, with ethics at its core. Although we’re established, there are huge opportunities locally and internationally. It’s exhilarating.”
For press and marketing assistant Steph Rogers, the pull to Wheal Kitty ultimately came down to the ocean, and the likeminds it attracts. “The sea’s right there – it’s awesome,” she says, beaming. “Everyone here – wherever they work – has a relationship with the ocean. It’s what bonds us together.” It’s a proximity that not only serves to unite Wheal Kitty’s residents, but that also acts as a constant reminder of the priorities the business is so focused on. “Being here reminds us of our indelible connection to the ocean,” Steph continues, “that we want to use the business for good. It’s the reason we became B Corp certified.”
“We're trying to achieve a lot and keep on growing, but it’s down to all of us to stay connected with our core values while doing so.”
“I always knew it as a place I'd like to be, with likeminded people and in a great location,” agrees Ade. “I spent years working in snowsports in the midlands. It was really hard only going to the mountains a couple of times a year, but spending most of the year thinking, selling and working snow.” Finding that balance between work and play, product and purpose keeps a brand like Finisterre authentic. “We're trying to achieve a lot and keep on growing,” he continues, “but it’s down to all of us to stay connected with our core values while doing so.”
Tuesdays with the family
It was the process of perfecting that balance which inspired Finisterre’s Sea Tuesdays. Work starts at 10am provided the first hour of the day is spent in, near, or by the water. Steph explains that some Tuesdays, Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) heads out with the Finisterre crew and leads a beach clean and how on the last Tuesday of the month, straight from the waves, the team heads next door for a hearty breakfast at Canteen.
“Ocean Plastic Solutions Day was really special too because everyone was involved,” Steph continues. “SAS hosted the day with us, Canteen provided the food and Open hosted SAS when HRH went and spoke to their team. It was amazing.”
And while Finisterre’s fierce commitment to sustainability provides a point of difference with the rest of the country, here, it’s a binding force – the joint sense of purpose that makes Wheal Kitty more than the sum of its parts. From Open Surf encouraging people to reject mass-produced boards and make their own, to Canteen sourcing all their food locally, to SAS heading up 2018’s charge against single use plastic; whether literally or ideologically, all the businesses at Wheal Kitty are working together to reconnect people with the environment around them. “SAS is an amazing charity that’s done so much,” says Steph, “we want to support them, so 10% of the profits from our microplastics collection this year went to them. We did something similar with our Econyl range the year before. I think it’s really unique to have so many people in one place on the same wavelength.”
It takes a village
When that kind of cross-fertilization happens on a local level, it sends ripples into the wider community. Helping to organise the Women’s Wetsuit Tester Programme Steph gave an inkling as to what linking Finisterre with friends, followers and collaborators could achieve, “It was really awesome, seeing these women charging, all in the same wetsuit. It felt really big and I’d love to see something more come out of that,” she says. And, meeting up with Ambassadors further afield, such as Dougal Paterson and Hanli Prinsloo in South Africa, Steph found the Wheal Kitty feeling extended further than she’d previously imagined. “By pushing ethics and sustainability we’re trying to do something that the fashion industry is notorious for not prioritising,” she continues. “We’re only going to get that word out by creating a worldwide community that understands we all have a responsibility to protect the environment. That’s why I started here. I found Finisterre and I thought, they’re everything that I stand for, I have to work here.”
"By pushing ethics and sustainability we’re trying to do something that the fashion industry is notorious for not prioritising. We’re only going to get that word out by creating a worldwide community that understands we all have a responsibility to protect the environment." - Steph Rogers
From Wheal Kitty to the wider world and back again, Finisterre’s connections to place and people are what keep its core values front and centre. “Being together at Wheal Kitty means those things are so accessible to us,” Ade concludes. “It's just not possible to forget where you are. You can get a view of the sea in minutes. We're very privileged.”
Photos by Abbi Hughes