You may have asked "Why the heck is bison fiber so expensive?" ok, everyone at least thinks this, including us.
The short answer "Because it works" is flippant but true, and doesn't really explain anything, so I thought a little transparency and information about our processes and the expense we go through to be able to make bison fiber.
There are a number of factors that go into the cost of making these goods.
The first and foremost is: There isn't a lot of this stuff available: Bison don't produce much of the fine soft undercoat to begin with. If you could remove all the down on an adult bison, you would end up with maybe 8-9 ounces of fine down. (and when you separate out the fiber that is too short to spin into yarn, you end up with only 4-6 oz of usable down) Sheep in comparison yield anywhere from 2-20lbs per year.
Last year we collected almost 10,000 lbs of raw fiber, by the time it is scoured (thoroughly washed and all foreign matter removed) and "dehaired" (a process where we mechanically separate the fine soft down from the other coarse fiber) we ended up with less than 5,000 lbs of the good stuff.
5000 lbs sounds like a lot, but when you realize that is about 75% of the available bison fiber produced annually and that is all there is... it ain't much compared to the 2,066,695 TONS of sheep wool produced annually. Bison fiber is extremely rare and exclusive.
Bison fiber isn't something that you can just order from a broker, when I need wool, silk, yak, cashmere, or other fiber to blend with the bison, I have a list in my phone and can call one of 4 wool brokers and order exactly what we need, it is pretty simple, anyone can do it. Bison fiber is quite a bit more complicated, we have arrangements with ranches across the country, a couple of processing plants, and our own little herd.
Everything we make, we make here in the U.S.A, and we work with some pretty awesome ranches, processors, mills, and individuals. We pay American workers to manufacture our goods, We believe in paying a living wage, and while we don't have any actual employees here, it is just T and I, with some family help occasionally when things are really busy.
Here is a little bit more disclosure, in figuring our expenses in producing these products we add in $2.00 per product for shipping, that is how we offer "Free Shipping", it is pretty common practice (how do you think Amazon does it?)
So, while $54 is crazy expensive for a pair of socks, they aren't even close to ordinary, and because we are more focused on the practical side of things, not status symbols, brand names etc.. we want to ensure you get your money's worth, we do a take a few extra steps to ensure that your bison down goods will last for years... technical design, extra reinforcement, and using only the finest components available. We want you to be able to be comfortable for years to come, and your "cost per use" to be pennies. We also try not to waste money on fancy packaging that just ends up in landfills.
We know your time is valuable, when you are out in the elements, whether it is working on a rig on the North Slope, fishing some beautiful river, sitting in a deer blind, or even just walking the dog in your neighborhood, if you are miserable or if your experience is shortened by cold feet.. the time you lose at work, or the fish you don't catch because you quit early. If you think what that vacation time cost, the travel expense etc... yeah, that is why we do this. Fish longer, Hike further, enjoy more of your time by being COMFORTABLE.
Nothing is more expensive than gear that doesn't work. We stand behind everything we make with "no questions asked" returns and we strive for impeccable customer service. T and Iare available ourselves by phone or email most hours (we do sleep occasionally) we don't rely on a call center.
Thank you, and we hope you enjoy looking around the site, we have made some interesting things, and work with some wonderful people.
Ron & Theresa Miskin