It all started with an old flat top hat, and a young woman’s search for passion and inspiration.
Many 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.
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 the 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.
With a background of fundamentals in classic western hat-making, Cate has been building hats independently as Havstad Hat Co in Central Oregon since 2014. Each hat is handcrafted from start to finish by Cate. From using the finest beaver fur felts made in the USA, the highest quality sheepskin leather sweatbands, 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.
Cate builds hats for working cowboys, ranchers, farmers, musicians, movie stars, fishermen, weavers, painters, adventurers….
What they all have in common is an appreciation for fine craftsmanship and lifetime quality goods meant to be passed down to the next generation.
Now running an organic farm in Madras, Oregon with her partner and working out of her Airstream workshop, Cate’s work continues to evolve in design and innovation. Her most recent collection features years of development in creating a plant-dye process for her hats. As hat-making and land stewardship becoming more intertwined in her life, her work seeks to reflect this in the creation of this plant-dyed hat collection. To read more about the Hues of the High Desert collection, click here.
In 2017, Cate began teaching small group and private “Build your own custom hat” workshops out of her mobile airstream workshop. To learn more about workshop offerings, click here.
As of 2019, Cate splits her time seasonally between building custom hats, and farming. Building hats in the Fall and Winter, and farming in the Spring and Summer. To stay up to date on when she is open for orders, sign up for the occasional newsletter.