A road trip across the West with her dog, Charlie, lead Cate Havstad to find her true passion: hatmaking.
Seven years ago, Cate Havstad was offered an opportunity to travel the West with friend and songwriter Willy Tea Taylor. When Taylor asked her to join him on tour and help film footage for his music documentary, he handed Havstad an old flat-top hat, telling her it was her “movie-making hat.” Her experiences on the road left a lasting impression, and upon returning home to Santa Cruz, California, Havstad decided to embark on a journey of her own, one to find what truly inspired her. She spent the next year exploring the West with her two prized possessions in tow: her dog Charlie and her “movie-making hat” — until one day she returned to her trailer to find her beloved topper chewed up. Hoping to fix the hat, Havstad began researching hatters and the process of hatmaking. Her interest was sparked.
She sought out an apprenticeship with a master hatter and moved to Oregon to pursue the trade. In the mornings, she worked at a barn leading trail rides, and in her free time, she learned all she could about hat-making.
Now, as the founder of Havstad Hat Co., she builds and designs all her own from her Airstream workshop on an organic farm in Madras, Oregon. Each is handcrafted from start to finish using century-old tools, the finest beaver fur felts, and top-quality sheepskin leather sweatbands. Havstad’s most recent collection, Hues of the High Desert, reflects not only her passion for traditional craftsmanship but also her commitment to land stewardship as her premiere line of plant-dyed hats, a process she has been developing for years.
For the last 4 years I have been working on developing a collection of hats that are dyed naturally using wildcrafted plants from this high desert region. I call the collection “Hues of the High Desert” and it is my passion and a labor of love.
Havstad hats are made from genuine beaver fur felts and range in price from $600 – $1,000 based on felt quality, weight, and adornments. Each is custom fitted and is shipped with a wooden head mold to keep the custom shape. But when necessary, you can send you hat back in to be reworked, cleaned, and reshaped — time and time again for the rest of your life.
Featured in the February/March issue.