Stray Bear Sweaters was born in a campervan: on the road, without much storage, doing stuff we love. Our founder Hunter, his wife, and their poodle Otto were lucky enough to take some time off their day jobs (Otto didn't have a day job, in full transparency) to explore the Pacific Northwest — little did they know they would be moving to Boise less than a year after this sabbatical. On that trip, with very little extra space for clothing, Hunter fell in love with a sweater from Scotland.
Having grown up in Texas, Hunter wasn't particularly familiar with the pure magic of wool. Everything changed on that van trip. He wore his sweater on hikes, lounging with a book, out to dinner, and everywhere in between. It was his do-it-all piece of clothing on the longest and most wonderful days in the van.
And you want to know a secret? To this day, that sweater has never been washed — yet it still smells great. Wool is anti-microbial and anti-odor. It has great structural capacity — i.e., wool sweaters don't wrinkle easily — and it's great in rain or dry weather.
As great as that sweater was (and is: he still has it), his interest in an end-to-end American sweater took him to mostly fruitless ends. And Stray Bear was born.
Although Hunter's background might not scream "clothing brand founder" — he's a former high school teacher, sports media editor, and software consultant — he believes each experience along the way has laid the groundwork for Stray Bear.
Stray Bear and You
Stray Bear is not about Stray Bear: it's about you.
We want you to experience what our founder experienced: love for a fiber so dynamic it can conquer almost any situation you put it in. We strongly believe you'll love our products, not just the design but, perhaps more importantly, the feel and functionality. We want you to not only experience the quality of great merino wool, but to experience the quality of American manufacturing and a superior merino wool. Stray Bear might someday fail, but if we've introduced just a few people to the possibilities of wool, then we feel like we've left a positive mark on this planet.
Whether you live somewhere hot, cold, or a little bit of both, we believe there's a little merino magic for everyone no matter what they love to do or where they live.
Stray Bear's Sustainability Commitments & Aspirations
Stray Bear is committed to sustainable fashion now and even more so in the future. Our sweaters and beanies are made with bluesign®-certified wool, which is milled in Italy before final manufacturing in the United States using on-demand, 3D-knit technology. Each sweater and beanie are made when the customer places an order. In other words, Stray Bear is not manufacturing and storing unused clothing that might sit for an extended period of time and go to waste if left unpurchased.
In addition to our initial manufacturing practices, Stray Bear pledges to:
- Seek accreditation with 1% for the Planet to help protect and preserve our sacred natural world.
- Seek to pass the highest standards in our procurement of fibers and manufacturing services. Our goal is for every step of the process in every product we sell to meet the most rigorous standards in farming, ranching, milling, processing, and manufacturing.
Ultimately, Stray Bear wants to pursue a 100% traceable story for every product we make. That is to say, we want every single sweater, beanie, shirt, jacket, and piece that we produce to be end-to-end traceable, from the farming and ranching practices that produce the core fibers to the mills that process those fibers to the final manufacturing location and labor practices. You won't see cheaply and irresponsibly made trinkets sold on our site just to move the needle on profits.
Right now, we feel that we are accomplishing part of this tracebale journey. There are certain constraints to our small size, but we are excited to grow and to improve along the way.
We couldn't do this without you. So if you've ever ordered a pair of socks, a beanie, a sweater, or some combination therein, thank you.