Hank Pantier

Q&A with Blane Joyner

Hank Pantier
Q&A with Blane Joyner

Raw Materials Manager at SmartWool

When it comes to Merino wool, Blane Joyner has us covered: as SmartWool’s Raw Materials Manager, he has a pulse on how much wool we’ll need and where it’s coming from. To be honest, his job sometimes makes us jealous: he manages our relationships with wool growers and yarn spinners, so he can often be found at the dozens of family-run wool farms on New Zealand’s South Island where many of SmartWool’s Merino wool products start.

Q: How long have you been at SmartWool?
A: 10 years.

Q: Describe your role at SmartWool:
A: We have a direct sourcing relationship for our wool – it’s my job to manage that. I forecast how much wool we’ll need each year and when we’ll need it. I also manage our yarn supply and work on sustainability initiatives.

Q: What’s unique about SmartWool’s relationship with its wool growers?
A: Usually, growers sell their wool in a commodity auction to the highest bidder, and lose visibility to how it’s used. In a relationship like ours, the grower knows where their wool is going. That connects the grower and brand so they can work together to maximize each other’s goals.

Q: How much wool does SmartWool use?
A: Approximately 1200 tons clean wool each year, or 2.4 million pounds.

Q: What’s your favorite sock and why? 
A: I don’t think I have a favorite sock – I like them all. But I especially like colorful socks, anything with

stripes and patterns. Wearing them just makes me feel good.

Q: Favorite piece?
A: Our NTS Micro 150 Boxer Briefs. They’re super comfy.

Q: Oldest piece?
A: An NTS Light 195 Zip T. I’ve had it since I started working here.

Q: What activities fill your time outside of work?
A: Snowboarding in the winter and mountain biking in the summer. I also like games: ping pong, badminton, soccer, kickball. And I like to run. I’m not competitive – I do it all for fun.

Q: Speaking of ping pong, do you take advantage of SmartWool’s table?
A: I play about once a day. It’s a great little reset button. But of the people who play a lot, I’m pretty low on the totem pole.

Q: What inspires you?
A: People. Authentic and honest people.

Q: What would you do with two weeks “off” and an unlimited budget?
A: I’d go to New Zealand. Probably Wanaka, in the South Island. And I’m not just saying that because I travel there for work. It’s a super friendly place and a beautiful setting. In the winter you can go snowboarding, in the summer you can mountain bike. To be honest, it’s a lot like Steamboat. And in Wanaka, there’s a big, beautiful lake.

Q: Favorite thing to give?
A: SmartWool products are a pretty cool thing to give because people really appreciate them. They’re a luxurious gift that people are always happy to receive.

Q: What is your guilty pleasure?
A: Video games.

Q: What did we forget to ask?
A: Maybe why I like working at SmartWool? A lot of us live here because we want the kind of activities a mountain town offers, and SmartWool allows you to live your personal lifestyle and have a career.