Ross Geddes, founder of Finnieston Clothing, unravels the threads of the business that sells products inspired by Glasgow’s rich industrial heritage.

Where is it based? 

Our first store opened in Byres Road in 2020. Earlier this month, we launched a second shop in Shawlands. 

What does it produce/do? 

We sell products inspired by Glasgow’s rich industrial heritage. All our products are built to last, made in either the UK or Portugal, with a focus on sustainable materials and local manufacturers and mills.

To whom does it sell? 

We sell to men and women who want sustainable, hard-wearing workwear that is stylish and versatile.

What is its turnover? 

Our financial year runs from August. Last year our turnover was £575,000 and we’re tracking 20% up on that this year. 

How many employees? 

With the new shop opening a couple of weeks ago we've gone from four to nine.

Why did you take the plunge? 

Finnieston Clothing initially started as an own brand within the family business CCW. I developed it for our family business as there was a need for us to create our own products due to the emergence of online discounting and having to compete more with our own suppliers.

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It was a great way to test the waters. I got the brand up and running within CCW, and after the first season we made the decision to make Finnieston a brand that could stand on its own and give it more direction. I wanted Finnieston to be a brand that represents the industrial heritage of Glasgow. We’ve had family work in the shipyards and also have a close family friend, Ian Johnston, a Clydeside historian and author, who helps ensure we're representing the history in the right way. I only ventured into my family's business a couple of years before founding Finnieston, so I had very little experience in brand building. Everything has been a bit of baptism of fire – with a few mistakes along the way – so I’ve learned a lot about what not to do (and hopefully plenty the other way too). 

What were you doing before?

After I left school, I worked in sales while travelling in Australia – from door knocker up to be channel manager (and have not been paid as good a wage since!), and worked as a recruiter (which wasn’t for me) and a waiter as a waiter at The Butchershop Bar and Grill on my return. My sister convinced me to come to CCW, an outdoor lifestyle retailer with stores in Callander, Glasgow, and St Andrews, which was established by my parents in 1985 (the same year I was born).

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My parents were close to selling. I was always quite stubborn about not ending up in the family business so I took a bit of convincing. The lines between good quality family time and work are very often blurred. I’m still involved a little with CCW on the menswear buying side of things.

What do you least enjoy?

Funnily enough the day-to-day running of the shops! Retail can often have a much slower pace which can leave me feeling a bit like a caged animal sometimes in a shop – especially when it’s quiet. 

What are your ambitions for the firm? 

Our goal is to use the profits from our business to help the community we find ourselves in. We want to be a brand that leads by example. We want to raise the bar for brands and encourage them to use this as a template to improve their business practices. We want to be as sustainable as possible, to care for our staff and our community, and to give back to society and the planet.

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Profits from each of our collections will go towards promoting and aiding mental, physical, and environmental health in Scotland and beyond. We will be transparent about the costs involved in making our garments, where those profits go, and promote causes we believe in. We want to be the antithesis to fast fashion. Clothes built to last, built for purpose, and built for the future. Every single time you buy a Finnieston product, money will go towards doing something good - through that, we hope our impact is significant. Our ultimate goal is to help people.

What single thing would most help?  

For people to buy better when they can, nobody's perfect. If the huge collective of people in the middle who can afford to start to make more conscious decisions when purchasing the industries will move with them. This applies to everything, not just clothing. 

What is the most valuable lesson you have learned? 

Self-love, probably! I’d spent many years of my life with a very poor inner dialogue. This was due to undiagnosed ADHD. I’ve learned to lead my business with the heart instead of the head, which can often be led by fear and ego which I know from experience can be a very delicate place.

What was your best moment? 

Last week, we paid for 10 men to attend a menswork retreat – our first initiative since switching to become a purpose-driven business. With this, we are hoping they can light up their own communities. Men's mental health is at a crisis point, and we’ve been able to truly help 10 people. It’s just the start, but this made me incredibly proud.

What was your worst moment?

We opened our first shop just 12 days before Christmas, and then we had to shut for three months as lockdown hit. During that three-month period, I was so stressed about what would happen to my business. Everything that could go wrong – whether it was with our supply chains or lockdowns – did. I wasn't in the best of places for some time. 

How do you relax? 

I do breathwork and cold-water therapy every day. That’s like brushing my teeth now. I can relax anywhere as long I have a healthy nervous system. Staying away from coffee and alcohol helps massively. Apart from that, the obvious things are spending time with my family and friends, getting some time in nature, and attempting to go to the gym and eating well. Unfortunately I still love a take away!