Feb 19 • 1HR 9M

Episode 201: Tom Kay - For the Love of the Sea

Twenty years after he founded the company, and six years after our first conversation, the Finisterre founder returns to the show for a second time.

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Presented by Matt Barr, Looking Sideways is a podcast about the best stories in skateboarding, snowboarding, surfing, and other related endeavours.
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Tom Kay, February 2023. Photo: Mat Arney

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Photo: Mat Arney

It’s the first leg of an impromptu south west omnibus as I catch up with my pal and Finisterre founder Tom Kay who is returning visit to the pod for the first time in six years!

Photo: Mat Arney

Tom was one of my first guests back in the early days of the show. Back then, we had a swim on Brighton beach and then recorded the episode on the pebbles over a pint or two. This time around, we had a great day, starting with a fun surf at Tom’s local Chapel Porth, before heading up to Finisterre HQ to sit down and record this conversation.

I wanted to catch up with Tom on the occasion of Finisterre’s 20th year in business to find out how the business has grown, and how Tom himself views the last two decades, as well as his plans for the future. Back then, Tom began the brand in a flat above a shop in Saint Agnes, armed with nothing more than a big idea and a lot of passion. Today, Finisterre is one of British surfing’s true success stories, and in the six years since our first conversation, the brand has grown to the point that it has ten stores around the UK and well over 100 members of staff around the UK.

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Photo: Mat Arney

It’s been quite a mission, with all the ups and downs that this type of founder-driven start up involves. What has he learned, as a founder and entrepreneur? What plans does he have for the brand’s future? What’s the idea behind initiatives such the new Finisterre Foundation, and Sea7? And what advice would Tom have if he was starting out again now?

Photo: Mat Arney

If you enjoyed my conversation with Nick Hounsfield, in which we cast a reflective eye over Nick’s mission to bring the Wave to life, then you’ll enjoy this one. I had a brilliant time down in Cornwall, and it was great to catch up with an old friend for the first time in years. Hope you enjoy our chat.

If so - tell me in the comments, or if you’re a paid subscriber who has any feedback or questions about this week’s episode, hit me up directly in the subscriber chat thread. Looking forward to hearing what everybody thinks.