Happy Birthday to Gary Watrous! 

Gary Watrous & Merrylee Rae- American Hat Makers- Hat Designeer- president- CEO

The American Hat Makers family came together last week to celebrate the 66th birthday of founder and president Gary Watrous.



It’s easy to celebrate a man like Gary – he’s far from a stereotypical “boss.” Not only is he profoundly passionate about leatherwork and hat making, he is equally enamored with the team of people working with him at the Watsonville warehouse and boutique.

Gary’s heart of gold is the stuff of legend at American Hat Makers, and each and every employee knows they can come to him if they need anything and he will do all he can to help.

To Gary, the team he works with is like family. In fact, many of the folks working at American Hat Makers are family. Gary’s wife, Merry Lee contributes to design and creative development; son, Garth, is second in command; and his daughter-in-law, Hannah, is the Director of Global Marketing and Branding.

“Family has always been the most important part of life to me,” Gary said. “There is a satisfaction in sharing the creative process and continuing the dream with those you love.”


Daughter-in-law Hannah serves the birthday cake.

Speaking of those he loves, Gary’s constant companions, Ruby and Pearl, come with him to work everyday. They are an important part of the team and if you come to the shop you may well be greeted by them. If he could, he would likely bring his gorgeous horse, Tucker, to work too!


Ruby & Pearl American Hat Makers Daogs with hats

DoubleGHatsAmericanHatMakers-Gary Watrous-Horses

Gary is undoubtedly the golden heart of American Hat Makers – and he is the first to say his family and team are the soul.

Please join us all as we wish Gary a very Happy Birthday!



Get to Know Garth Watrous – the Businessman

Garth Watrous grew up in the hat making world watching his dad, Gary, create one-of-a-kind artisan hats in his workshop. Later, Garth would join his dad at art fairs and festivals as Gary made a name for his skilled handiwork and artistry and began to build the Head ’N Home Hats brand.


Surely influenced by his early exposure to entrepreneurship, Garth went on to earn his business degree from San Diego State University. He came home to Watsonville and became a proud partner of American Hat Makers with his father in 2005.


In the decade since Garth has been – as he likes to say –  “at the rudder” of the company business has doubled…twice! But don’t think that Garth is satisfied with that, because you would be wrong. Garth says his goal for the American Hat Makers is “to be the #1 hat company in the world.”

That, he says, will come through cultivating the best from the dedicated and talented team at American Hat Makers; making solid, authentic industry connections; and by bringing greater exposure to the exceptional and unique line of products designed and manufactured at their Watsonville, California facility.


“We are already the #1 cut and sew hat maker,” he explains, “and that sets us apart from the competition.”

There are other things that set American Hat Makers apart from the competition as well, and one of them is their outstanding level of customer service. Each hat sold comes with an unconditional lifetime guarantee. “Our customer service is second to none, and on top of that, our marketing team is incredible!” Garth says. “To be the best you have to play in all areas.”


Speaking of playing in all areas, Garth doesn’t just talk the talk, he walks the walk. Garth spends a good deal of time nurturing business relationships through his positions as Vice-President of the Board of Directors of The Headwear Association and as a member of the American Made Matters Board of Directors. In addition, American Hat Makers is expanding it’s global presence with growing sales worldwide. Garth shares that the Asian market is growing rapidly – especially Tibet!

With Garth’s  visionary, dynamic business sense and an unparalleled team at his side, there is no doubt that American Hat Makers will continue to grow in innovation, production and global recognition.



Getting to Know Garth (Garth Watrous of American Hat Makers, that is!)

It’s not unusual for a company to have a list of core values. What is unusual is for one of those to be “be happy and weird.

Pajama Day


Then again, thanks to Garth Watrous, American Hat Makers isn’t your usual company. From “Keep It Weird Wednesdays” to a rousing game of line ball at lunch, the Watrous family is dedicated to promoting a sense of fun and family in the workplace.


the team 2015 crazy hat day


Son of founder Gary Watrous, Garth Watrous has taken a hands on, interactive approach to managing the team at American Hat Makers since he became partner in 2005. “We’ve always made incredibly good hats,” Garth said. “So I decided to focus on company culture, promoting teamwork and connection and sharing fun and laughter with the team.”



Garth is dedicated to hiring incredible people who really want to find a home and grow with American Hat Makers. To help team members thrive  – inside and outside of work hours – Garth focuses on mentoring, training and authentically connecting with each and every person at American Hat Makers. “Connection has always been important in my life,” he explained. “If we notice someone is struggling,  or we see fear or uncertainty growing among the team,  we address it. It is important to maintain open communication with our entire team.”

If nothing else, Garth wants everyone at the company to feel like they are appreciated, valued and trusted to make good choices for themselves and the business. Garth is not afraid of change and he wants to engender that spirit of innovation and fearlessness into the culture at American Hat Makers. When he first became partner he instituted a practice where anyone could make a decision that impacted the company up to $50. Since then, he has increased the limit to $500 with nothing but positive results. “When you are hired you are encouraged to try new things and we trust you to make independent decisions,” he said. “I believe this makes our team feel more connected, more confident and more fulfilled in their work environment.”

Ultimately, Garth is driven by a strong desire to stay true to his personal beliefs. Fortunately for the team at American Hat Makers, primary among them is to treat everyone kindly and, as he puts it, “to love them up.”

We hope you feel that love when you wear a hat from American Hat Makers.



108th Annual Headwear Association Dinner


American Hat Makers attended the 108th Annual Head Wear Association Dinner! The Headwear Association is the oldest association in the hat trade, and in fact, the oldest of its kind in the world. Their mission is to promote hat wearing, the headwear industry throughout the world, and foster goodwill and fellowship among those engaged in the headwear industry. Held at The Loeb Boathouse, Central Park! The evening started with a business meeting, cocktails, an amazing Fashion Show! It ended with an award ceremony and delicious dinner! The Retailer of the Year Award went to Tony Lippi from The Panama Hat Company. The 2016 Headwear Hall of Fame Inductees where, John Wayne, Usher, Justin Timberlake, Kate Hudson, Christina Aguilera, Hedy Lamarr. Be sure to save the date for next years 109th Annual Dinner on April 27th, 2017. Here are some captured moments of the 108th dinner…

The Headwear Association Dinner - AmericanHatMakers 4Annual board meeting

The Headwear Association Dinner - AmericanHatMakers 5

The Headwear Association Dinner - AmericanHatMakers 35

The Headwear Association Dinner - AmericanHatMakers 17

IMG_4483The Headwear Association Board members

IMG_4658Millinery women showing off their fabulous hats at the 108th Annual dinner


IMG_4523Bob & Kim Broner owners of Broner Hats



IMG_4678Owners of Magid Hats

IMG_4681Magid Hats Family





IMG_4474Gia Skova in the San Tropez by Wallaroo Hat Company. Simply Breathtaking at The Loeb Boathouse at Central Park.

IMG_4485PR  Jill Hammer and Hannah Watrous

IMG_4677Millinery Ladies, Evetta Petty



IMG_4495Kourtney Bush with San Diego Hat Company and Jim


IMG_4510Ellen Christine from New York








IMG_4582Angus and Agustino




IMG_4643Kathy Anderson









IMG_4730JJ Hatter Crew



The Headwear Association Dinner - AmericanHatMakers 18

The Headwear Association Dinner - AmericanHatMakers 9Garth Watrous and Don Rongione from Bollman Hat Company

The Headwear Association Dinner - AmericanHatMakers 8Updated 2016 Hall Of Fame Inductees

The Headwear Association Dinner - AmericanHatMakers 15Past Headwear Association Dinners


The Headwear Association Dinner - AmericanHatMakers 12















The Headwear Association Dinner - AmericanHatMakers 24

The Headwear Association Dinner - AmericanHatMakers 25

The Headwear Association Dinner - AmericanHatMakers 26

IMG_4980 Tony Lippi owner of The Panama Hat Company won Retailer of the Year

IMG_5000Arthur Gardner from Dorfman Pacific Company Inc. won the Ben Rosenthal Award

IMG_5010Todd and Arthur Gardner

IMG_5029Jen with Hats in the Belfry

IMG_5053Garth Watrous and Jill Hammer

IMG_5126Charles Rand and his wife



The Headwear Association Dinner - AmericanHatMakers 23Darrin Santos Thank you for providing all these amazing photos and being an exceptional photographer every year!


The Headwear Association Dinner - AmericanHatMakers 29

The Headwear Association Dinner - AmericanHatMakers 30Garth, Hannah, and Don Celebrating Agustino retiring this year after 30 years of designing hatbands in the industry.

The Headwear Association Dinner - AmericanHatMakers 31Jerry Miller and his wife from Hat Co.

The Headwear Association Dinner - AmericanHatMakers 36

The Headwear Association Dinner - AmericanHatMakers 32Agustino at work until May 31st. We are sad to see him leave

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The Headwear Association Dinner - AmericanHatMakers 34

The Headwear Association Dinner - AmericanHatMakers 11


– American Hat Makers


AHM partner with Adam Rose

hnh-watermarkWatsonville, CA — American Hat Makers was created in the early 1970’s with a total investment of $20 in leather and $20 in leather working tools. The family owned and operated business quickly grew from selling belts and wallets out of the back of a station wagon to a premier hat company known world wide for their creative designs. With everything from beachcomber to western wear, hippie chic to steampunk flair, American Hat Makers continue to push creativity and design in the world of hat making.

In 2015, American Hat Makers partnered with tattoo artist, Adam Rose. As artist and owner of Fallen Owl Tattoo Studio in Denver all hats in Adam Rose’s line are directly inspired by his tattoos and artwork. Public response to Rose’s initial release was immensely positive and we couldn’t be happier with the results. All hats in Adam’s line are 100% American made, hand painted, and laser etched with the highest quality materials available.

American Hat Makers ships worldwide. To preview the full line go to http://www.headnhome.com. To see more of Adam Rose’s work and inspiration go to http://www.FallenOwnTattoo.com

Check out a few of his astonishing designs used as inspiration for our hats below.

Adam and his team at Fallen Owl Tattoo have made giving back to the community a large focus of the studio. Working with several local charities Fallen Owl was awarded Business of the Year for their support of The Action Center. Nature’s Educators has been another amazing charity close to the heart of Adam & his crew. The charity cares for and educates the public with non releasable birds of prey. For Fallen Owl it was a perfect fit. The American Hat Makers have agreed that for every owl hat sold ( ‘Wisdom’ ), $5.00 will be donated to Natures Educators. If  you would like to learn more about them or donate to their cause, you can visit their website at the link here. Call #1800NICEHAT if you would like to purchase one of Adam’s masterpieces.

You can also see more of his designs on his studio website, Facebook, and Instagram.



@adamrosetattoo on Instagram

wisdomWhite Death Grip, American Hat MakersSplashSplash side viewSkull & Roses American Hat MakersHooty American Hat MakersCocktailorBalance AHMAdam Rose in _Death Grip_, American Hat Makers

Here’s a link to our Pinterest Board with the pages from Magazine   https://www.pinterest.com/americanhat/adam-rose-tattoo-designs/


Jamie Foxx American Hat Makers unconditional love Jamie Foxx Americann Hat Makers Jamie Foxx Summit Ashbury Hats American Hat Makers Jamie Foxx American Hat Makers Wisdom Hat Annalise Bishop Jamie Fox with Daughter Annalise Bishop wearing Wisdom hat by American Hat Makers


Wana was a Wolf

Inspiration can be extracted in the most surprising places.  In this case, we have the heartwarming story of Wana the Wolf, told by our very own Nikki.

nikki wana

Nikki shares her heartfelt enthusiasm.

Nikki is a talented designer here at American Hat Makers/Head’n Home Hats.  Not long ago, Nikki visited Wana at the Wolf Mountain Sanctuary.  She describes her experience,

“Wana touched my soul, in a way…  I can’t explain.”

Wolf Mountain Sanctuary is a non profit organization, “dedicated to the preservation and proper management of wolves in the wild, and in captivity”.  People see the wolf as a threat, and based on that stereotype, this beautiful animal is banned from the ecosystem by many.  In addition to the threat of extinction, wolves are also captured, forced into captivity, and then abandoned when they become too big, or unmanageable.

“These wolves cannot be released back into the wild” said Nikki.  She elaborates, “People think it’s cool to have a dog/wolf hybrid, or a pure wolf, and then they get too big, and they can’t handle it”.

Nikki was so moved by this wolf sanctuary, and the purpose of it, she decided to do something about it.   She used her inspiration to draw some beautiful sketches of Wana, and created a hat specifically designed to compliment the outdoors, wildlife style.  Once these specifications came together, the Double G, Wana hat was born!  Nikki wasn’t done yet.  Next, she put together a plan of action to help fund the program.  Every time a Wana hat is purchased, we donate five dollars to the sanctuary.


Wana, Denali, and Takaani

If you would like to purchase a Wana hat in support of the sanctuary, click here.  If you would like more information on how to sponsor a wolf directly through Wolf Mountain Sanctuary, click here.

Special thanks to Nikki, for bringing this extraordinary refuge to our attention!  When we know better, we can do better.



DIY- Hat Care is EASY!


SolAir, Cabana

conchoIf you’re reading this, chances are, you have one of our outstanding hats!  You’re in the right place to learn some easy ways to maintain the integrity of your hat, whether it’s leather, suede, mesh, or combinations of these.

Let’s start with the SolAir Cabana.

This super quick video packs a whopping directive in 39 seconds on maintaining the shape of your Cabana.  If you have any further questions about the shape of your hat, please contact us.


American Outback, Zephyr

All of our hats are shapeable, in one way or another.   They hold up to abuse really well, but you may need, or want to reshape it from time to time.  If you have a crushable hat, like a SolAir Breeze, or the American Outback Zepher, and it needs reshaping, we can help!  This 2 minute video demonstrates how to shape hard metal wire, or techno wire, into your desired look.  We’ll also show you how to use a coffee can to maintain your perfect hat shape.

Now that you have the right shape and storage technique, lets go over a few more things.  You should know that your leather hat has had Scotchguard worked into the leather during the tanning process.   You do NOT need to apply and kind of weatherproofing.  But, we do wear our hats in all kinds of weather, and to every kind of event imaginable.   They get dirty.  Here is another short video on hat cleaning:

If your hat needs more than a light cleaning, has been damaged, or just been worn to the point that it’s looking tired or wilted, we do refurbish hats.   We recommend calling our shop to talk about that process at 1-800-642-3428, or email us at nicehat007@gmail.com.


Full Size Reducer


Half Size Reducer

If your hat is too big or too small, we have remedies for that as well.   Let’s start with the problem of it being too large.  Sometimes the perfect fit falls by the wayside after a significant hair cut.  We’ve designed our own perfect fit sizing system.   The velcro tabs sewn into your hat securely hold the sweat liner, but are also ready to accommodate a size reducer.  You can purchase a pack on our online catalog after you determine how much reduction you need.  If you’re not sure, give us a call, and a team member will happily assist you.  Assortment packs are also available containing a full size reducer, half size reducer, and sweat liner.

maintenance_kitMaybe your hat was a gift, and it’s just a little bit too tight?  Don’t worry!  We can offer a couple of options.  Hats can be shipped to us for professional stretching.  We can also recommend a DIY (do it yourself) Hat Maintenance Kit for home use.  This kit includes everything you need to keep your hat in perfect condition.

Kit includes the following:

  • 1 HatJack Maintainer
  • Spray ‘N Shape for stretching and shaping any leather
  • Cleaning Solution for suedes
  • Cleaning Kit for the dry cleaning and maintenance of any suede
  • An assortment of size adjusters
  • Sweat patch replacements

If your hat gets wet, and then shrinks while drying when you’re not wearing it, get it wet again, and let it dry on your head.   Put in on, and gently stretch/pull it in place as you would normally wear it.  It will dry to fit your head perfectly.

If you’ve ordered a chin strap, this video demonstrates how to install it:

Now that we’ve provided you with this information, don’t be afraid to wear your every day, at any event, in any weather…  it’s tougher than you think!

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if your questions have not been answered.

1-800-NICEHAT (1-800-642-3428)

SolAir group in water

Tour our Facility

We welcome your tour group with a personal touch.

We welcome your tour group with a personal touch.

At Head’n Home Hats/American Hat Makers, we’re proud to be a 100% American made product.  We offer free facility tours, geared to educate, and wow you!  Check out some pictures from a recent tour.

Bruce explains things.

Bruce explains things.

It starts with raw materials

It starts with raw materials.

After choosing the leather, suede, or other materials from our raw materials area,  a pattern will be cut.  Our leather is 100% raised and tanned in America.  Scotchguard is applied and worked into the material during the tanning process, resulting in a water resistant hat right off the rack.  Then we go to assembly. There are several phases to this process.

Watching work in progress.

Pilo talks about banding.

The group is getting into it!

A lot to see.

Visually, you can see we take pride in being an American made product.  The evidence is everywhere.

We encourage questions!

Some hats get added detail. We have a laser engraver that adds depth, enhancing the design beyond accessories or saddle stitching.

Nikki uses her creativity to adorn hats with intricate designs, featuring anything from jellyfish, to skulls, and feathers. That layer of texture is only surpassed by adding some airbrushing for a finished product that really pops. You can see it on the “Opal” and “Deadly Love”.

This is the Double G

Double G, “Opal” designed by Merry-Lee. Laser engraved and airbrushed.   Find it here!

Crowding around the laser engraver, our group can see (and smell) the leather engraver in action. It’s hard to steer folks away from this area, but we must move on.

Laser engraving area.

VooDoo “Deadly Love” designed by Nikki.  Laser engraved and airbrushed.  Find it here!

From here we walk through the Administrative offices for a quick “Hello” from the Wholesale team.  If we’re lucky, Gary Watrous (Founder and President!) is around to say a few words.

Fernando, making magic happen.

Now we’re in shipping. This is not just about sending out packages.The final inspection happens here. Each hat is tagged and shaped to perfection. Fernando is a master at shaping a hat! He demonstrates with certain accuracy and skilled speed. Now the hats can be packed securely and sent out.

The customer is sure to be pleased and delighted!

And now for some fun at the store.

Decisions…   Selfies…   Smiles…


Thank you, Bridges Youth Group!

Call 800-642-3428 to schedule a tour.