One of the first things you notice about Hannah Bertollini Watrous is the warmth of her smile. Most likely the second will be the warmth of her hug, because whether she is meeting you for the first, or fifty-first, time she will greet you like you are a long lost friend.
It’s that open joy that drives Hannah’s work as the Global Brand Marketing Manager for Watsonville-based American Hat Makers. Hannah is an integral piece of the family business (Husband Garth is the son of Founder Gary Watrous), whose mission is, “Having fun, laughing often, and honoring everyone’s unique strengths.”
When I first met Hannah it was not long after American Hat Makers had moved into their large warehouse near the Watsonville airport. What began as a one-man operation in her father-in-law’s garage over 40 years ago has since grown to employ 50 positive and fun loving people who work together to produce the finest, most striking, handmade leather hats in the world.
As Global Brand Marketing Manager, Hannah is tasked with promoting several unique brands under the American Hat Makers umbrella. This is no small task, as each line has its own distinct personality. Her work takes her all over the country, from the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota, to high-end trade shows in Las Vegas and New York.
Regardless of how many miles she is logging, Hannah’s priority is family first and foremost. “I love that my beautiful daughters (Gianna, 23 and Leilani, 16) have the courage to follow their dreams, take risks, and fall short. They both love deeply, are knowledgeable, athletic, nurturing, humorous, and part of the next generation of entrepreneurs who will make a difference in our community,” she said.
As far as her marriage is concerned, Hannah clearly loves working with her husband Garth as much as she loves him. “We really complement each other. I’m proud of the fact that we work so hard on our relationship so that our girls are able to see what a healthy relationship looks like – to be respected, loved, and enjoy life to the fullest!”
Clean and sober for over 18 years, Hannah is now addicted to living life fully present and finding love and laughter in every day. Her dedication to enjoying life is evident in every aspect of her being. With her guidance, American Hat Makers dedicates as much to the fulfillment of their employees as they do to making amazing hats. She and Garth mentor employees, provide monthly themed breakfasts and lunches and Keep it Weird days (where everyone dresses up and laughter and smiles abound!) They work to encourage each and every employee to become their highest selves and fulfill their dreams.
One of the things Hannah feels most strongly about is helping the community. “I know we are fortunate to live a charmed life and it feels exceptionally good for my family to be able to give to those in need.”
Whether it is through American Hat Makers’ annual Hat Day in the Sun event, where they give away hundreds of hats and educate the community about protecting their faces from the sun, or by gifting beanies and socks to the homeless each winter through their Headwear for the Homeless campaign, Hannah knows it is through giving that we receive much more.
“I used to really worry about what others thought of me,” she said. “Now I feel incredible knowing I work hard at keeping my side of the street clean and discovering how I can be the best me, and finding ways to impact our world in a positive way. There’s not a doubt in my mind that I can make a difference. I have an abundance of Faith in the outcome.”