Dearest friends, relatives, customers, supporters,
Beginning on August 20th I will not be taking any more custom commissioned work for the rest of the year. I will be offering a limited number of gift certificates for the holidays with plans to reopen for orders in February. If you would like to have a custom hat made this year, you have until August 20th to place your order with me. If you really want to comission a custom hat this year and need time to gather funds, just email me and we will work it out.
This is a scary leap to take, I must admit, but of course departing from what you know into something unknown is usually a bit scary, and for me also very exciting. This decision is multifaceted, to me it is a solution to challenges I have had from a business perspective, and also from a creative/ artistic perspective.
When a train gains speed fast, it can feel like an unstoppable force. This fast moving train of Havstad Hat Co has set a pace that over time has worn on me. Let me try to explain…. I apologize in advance for my long and rambling post. Perhaps you’ll read and get it, perhaps you won’t. Do you!
The journey with my business is one that reflects my own personal soul journey. The ways I have chosen to grow while resisting temptation to grow in other ways are decisions I have made not based on numbers or societal definitions of what “success” look like. I put my workshop on wheels and confined my production to the limits of a 32 ft Airstream Excella for a reason; freedom. I wanted to be free from the whims of a landlord, freedom from set shop hours of a brick and mortar in town, freedom to work from wherever life may take me physically, creative freedom that comes with low overhead and complete, independent ownership. Above all else, I choose to honor and preserve my freedom, it is a privilege that I do not take for granted and I work hard to keep.
But isn’t it funny, perhaps you can relate, how quickly we can choose to give up our freedom? I almost did. I almost fell for what our society is selling us, that exponential growth equals success, that a greater income equals a greater life, that fame and publicity are what validate greatness. I’M NOT BUYING IT. Mass production and mass consumption are the evils of the human race. Sorry, not sorry.
I hate the fashion industry for the most. Disposable items, disposable lives. What I do appreciate is style; I love personal expression, I love great trade smiths and craftspeople and artists, and I love pieces of work that embody something bigger than the item itself. I love this history these trades carry with them, and that their makers carry on from their predecessors. What an honor it is.
Over the last few years I have had the great pleasure of meeting people who are creating beautiful wearable items in intentional ways, the antithesis of fast fashion, and these are the creators I choose to collaborate with and whom I look up to.
From the start of my first apprenticeship as a hat maker, I have been building custom hats, made-to-order, and made to the customers’ requests. I have loved creating in this way; I get to know my customers personally, I often learn stories about them and their grandfathers and the hats they wore, or the struggles the person has overcome and the symbolism this item they will be wearing will hold for them. It’s deeply personal and very rewarding. With that said, as demand has grown and as I have stubbornly stayed small, managing correspondence with up to 50 people at a time has become a challenge, each with very individual and specific design requests. I feel like I have been drowning in a production life that is out of my hands. While I love making people’s hat dreams come true, my design dreams and my artistic visions have had to take the backburner. This is not sustainable in my eyes.
I have to admit that this spring, amidst a huge production list weighing on my shoulders, a huge move of our farm to a new location, and life’s many demands, I experienced burnout. I’m sure everyone reading this has experienced burnout. The worst part about feeling this way in my eyes, is that in that feeling I am not living or working in gratitude, and what a dishonor to my trade. I feel incredibly grateful that not only did I find this trade or that it found me, but I’m so grateful that the support of people who seem to get what I’m doing and seem to like my work allow me to make this my profession. It’s a goal of mine to walk into my workshop with an attitude of gratitude each day, with pure intentions in my heart and dedication to creating the best piece of work I’m able to.
So, I took some time to think about where I am, and where I want to go. I took some time off and I came back with a plan and a refreshed attitude ready to finish up my production list and embark an a new creative endeavor, and a new model of ordering.
I will be creating 3 collections a year that will be limited to 25 hats to start. The collection will be available for Preorder, and the first 25 to place their order will be the 25 getting hats that season. Each hat will still be custom fitted to the customer’s head, and personalized on the interior of the sweatband to the customers wishes. There will be anywhere from 4-6 styles and a selection of colors and hatbands to choose from. I will likely set aside a couple of times a year where I will take on a small amount of fully custom commissioned orders, I’ll be sure to keep you all updated as this develops. If you want a hat fast, now, cheap, there are plenty of those options out there. I’m not playing that game. In those models, there is always someone or something paying the price for your convenience.
The inaugural collection I’m getting ready to launch this Fall, Hues of the High Desert, is a reflection of my journey over the past 3-4 years. One of the simplest ways I can put it is, my life has become more and more connected to and in flow with the land, and the seasons. The land I call home has been shaping me into the woman and artist I am becoming. This is why I use the word “terroir” in my description of my hats; the land on which something is produced or created imparts unique and defining characteristics upon it. Myself, my hats, my business, it’s all been shaped by this High Desert home. And I want to honor and thank the land for all that it has brought to me.
As Havstad Hat Company started to pick up speed years ago, I started volunteering at a farm in Bend, Oregon. I was 23, flailing about, learning to start a business. Pressures and demands began to increase and my social circle was changing. Going to the bars gave me no satisfaction and usually left me feeling worse, not better. I was introduced to this ragtag group of farming misfits who resembled a beautifully dysfunctional loving family I was missing in my life. I didn’t know it exactly at the time, but I had found my people. At a time when I could easily get caught with my head in the clouds and spinning like a hurricane, being at the farm in the dirt is what made me feel the most grounded. There was also a really handsome, kind-eyed farmer who I had my eye on…
Fast forward 3 years later. I’ve been dating the handsome farmer for almost 2 years and this year we transitioned his biodynamic farm from the land he was leasing and farming in Bend, to the land he now owns in Madras, Oregon. This is the piece of land that we have the great honor of caring for, cultivating, nourishing and learning its ways. More than ever, I feel a sense of duty to learn and grow with this land in a way that I am giving back for all that I receive here.
There are a few ways I know I will do this. First, I hope to tell the story of this land and do my best to capture the essence of the land through my natural dye work. Ralph Waldo Emmerson said, “Nature always wears the colors of the spirit.” Not only do the naturally dyed hats stand out in their unique beauty, there is a feeling within them that to me, Emmerson’s quote explains.
The other way in which my personal and professional life is shifting is in my attempt to create hats seasonally, and farm seasonally. In this way, I will be creating Fall, Winter and Spring collections, perhaps still taking on a limited number of custom commissioned work during these times, and freeing up my summer to be heavily involved with the farm. I believe this time away from hat work will not only be important for the farm side of my life, but also for the artist in me. Taking time to step away from one’s creative work is often when fresh inspiration and creative fervor is renewed. My hope is that this new model of ordering and production will allow me to control the flow of my business to a more manageable pace, and will inspire me to grow as a hatter, and as a designer, and as a steward of the land.
So, this is my dream, and I’m going for it. I don’t know how it will go, I only know that given the gift of this life on this earth, and given the freedom I am dedicated to preserving, and given this strong pull to go deeper into my relationship with this land, this inaugural collection of the Hues of the High Desert is the best way for me to say through my work and through my designs what I feel in my heart.
Thank you for reading this, thank you to those who have followed my work for years and supported me in so many ways, thank you for supporting art and for giving a shit about the land.
With love & excitement,
“Know the ways of the ones who take care of you, so that you may take care of them.
Introduce yourself. Be accountable as the one who comes asking for life. Ask permission before taking. Abide by the answer.
Never take the first. Never take the last. Take only what you need.
Take only that which is given.
Never take more than half. Leave some for others. Harvest in a way that minimizes harm.
Use it respectfully. Never waste what you have taken. Share.
Give thanks for what you have been given.
Give a gift, in reciprocity for what you have taken.
Sustain the ones who sustain you and the earth will last forever…
Each person, human or no, is bound to every other in a reciprocal relationship. Just as all beings have a duty to me, I have a duty to them. If an animal gives its life to feed me, I am in turn bound to support its life. If I receive a stream’s gift of pure water, then I am responsible for returning a gift in kind. An integral part of a human’s education is to know those duties and how to perform them…
Action on behalf of life transforms. Because the relationship between self and the world is reciprocal, it is not a question of first getting enlightened or saved and then acting. As we work to heal the earth, the earth heals us.” – Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants