It all started with an old flat top hat, and a young woman’s search for passion and inspiration.

Three years ago, Cate Havstad was offered an opportunity by friend and songwriter Willy Tea Taylor. Willy Tea was about to embark on a tour of the western United States, playing shows and filming footage for his music documentary, ‘Searching for Guy Clark’s Kitchen.’ He showed up in Santa Cruz, CA one day with an old flat top hat in hand. Willy Tea asked Cate if she wanted to hit the road and assist in filming during the tour. He presented the hat to her, telling her it was her “movie-making hat” and encouraged her to listen to her heart and follow the inspiration that was to be found on the road. The time on the road with Willy Tea, as well as the family of artists and troubadours that they spent time with left a permanent mark on Cate. It was from that trip on that she started her own journey in seeking that which truly inspired her. That hat gave Cate a new silhouette as she embarked on a new direction in her life, and the sentiment behind the hat made it her most prized possession.

Hanging Hat

For the next year, Cate rambled around the western United States and Canada with her dog Charlie. One day she returned home to find that her beloved “movie-making hat” had been chewed up. Devastated, Cate started researching hatters and the process of hatmaking, hoping to repair her beloved hat. As she learned more about the trade, the process and the small remainder of traditional hand-made custom hatmakers, her interest grew. She sought out an apprenticeship with a Master Hatter and moved to Oregon to pursue trade. In the mornings she worked at a barn leading horseback trail rides, and in her free time she learned all she could about hat making.

Cate and Horse
With a background of fundamentals in classic western hat-making, Cate has been building hats independently as Havstad Hat Co. out of a horse barn in Central Oregon for almost 2 years now. Each hat is handcrafted from start to finish by Cate. From using the finest fur felts made in the US to utilizing hand-shaping techniques and hunting down original hatter’s equipment dating back to the late 1800s, Cate’s approach to hat making both honors the history and traditions of the past while incorporating her modern day flare into her designs and business.