A huge thank you to Star Binding/Printing Company!
Lately here at American Hat Makers, one of our biggest goals has been designing and attaining all new tip stickers for the inside of our hats. These stickers are meant to carry our name out into the world, and make sure that our hats are marked and noticeable so people know just where they came from! Hannah, our marketing director, spent months going from company to company trying to find a suitable match for manufacturing our tip stickers but to no avail. That is, until we found Star Binding/Printing Company!
In business for over 103 years, Star Binding/Printing are experts at what they do. Family owned since 1914, and providing exceptional service ever since, it’s very clear that they have made a name for themselves in the printing world. We were so excited when we came across them because we knew we had found our match. They worked with us so diligently in the design of our tip stickers and went to every length to insure that we were satisfied that we couldn’t go on without giving this awesome company a shout out. They said they love working with people in the hat industry because there are so many unique, interesting, and wonderful individuals they come across, and that everyone is so connected with each other! As far as their facility goes, it’s chock-full of original, antiquated equipment that was used since the start of the company. They even have an authentic Thomas Edison Dictaphone from 1878 on display!
Their CEO is a man by the name of Stuart and he is the brains behind the operation, and is personally involved in every aspect of the company. He went to every length possible to deliver a product that was not only of the utmost quality, but carried us through the process with ultimate customer service. If you’re ever looking for a tip sticker or anything related to the countless other amazing services they provide, you can’t go wrong with choosing Star Printing/Binding! Here’s a link to their website!
Genuine American Hero: Steve Viola
It’s not too often we hear stories of true, genuine American heroes. Command Master Chief Navy SEAL Steve Viola is one such hero. He’s a man that has seen just about everything and overcome every variety of challenge that life has posed him with. Overcoming these issues, Steve says, is all about how you approach them.
There’s two ways to do something. The right way, or again. In Steve’s eyes, failures are not a bad thing. They are instead an opportunity to learn and improve. It’s all about humbleness. The ability to analyze and learn from your mistakes is what separates the achievers from those who merely try. Although highly decorated, Steve’s path to heroism was not without obstacles. Initially, Steve desired to do a 2 year service and return to college, however during his term a friend convinced him to attend BUD/S or Basic Underwater Demolitions/SEAL training. After a grueling 6 weeks of SEAL training, Steve failed the running test by only two seconds. Determined to prove himself, he returned 6 months later, only to fail the water treading test. You know what they say, the third time’s the charm. After finally passing BUD/S, Steve was deployed in the Gulf War. Sometime during his service, he was recommended to attend the Green Beret Medic School. During his attendance there, he failed the final exam by only a few points. This meant he had to repeat the course from day 1. Steve doesn’t look at the setbacks as detrimental however, instead viewing them as beneficial. Steve says that repeating all of the training for BUD/S and the Green Beret Medic School only made him better at it because he had been practicing it for so long.
Steve says that your failures do not define you. He comes from a community where the difficult is done immediately, and the impossible is done by appointment. Everyone is a work in progress and learning from your mistakes is what gives us the ability to improve ourselves. In his words, his primary mission is to help everyone willing to improve to succeed in life. Take it from someone who’s seen everything and overcome countless adversities, if you have a capable attitude you will see results!
Hats for American Heroes!
At American Hat Makers, we believe in giving back to our community. It is not only a core belief of ours, it is written into our mission statement:
At American Hat makers our mission is to produce distinctive hats while treating our customers and employees with compassion and integrity and bettering our community through service and philanthropy.
Recently, our American Hat Makers family has been asking ourselves:
“What can we do to make a difference in the lives of American service men and women?”
As part of our ongoing dedication to bettering our community, American Hat Makers is proud to announce a new initiative, Hats for American Heroes.
The purpose of Hats for American Heroes is to give back in the best way we can to those who have given – and continue to give – their all for us. We want to do anything and everything we can to the men and women in uniform – both active military and veterans.
Did you know:
- According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 21.8 million veterans of the U.S. armed forces as of 2014, and approximately 10 percent of them are women.
- California has the highest number of veteran residents, with 2 million, followed by Texas and Florida, each with 1.6 million.
- According to the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, as many as 20 percent of troops who served in Iraq or Afghanistan since 2001 have come home and reported having PTSD.
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that in 2013 there were 722,000 unemployed veterans.
To that end, through Hats for American Heroes, American Hat Makers will:
- Donate hats to America’s heroes through community events and charitable giving opportunities.
- Donate financially to reputable organizations that support our service members and veterans.
- Offer employment opportunities to America’s military personnel and their families.
Hannah & Garth Watrous attending Master Chief Navy Seal Steve Viola 30 year retirement ceremony as a notable Navy Seal with several accolades.
We want to show support and gratitude for those on active duty, retired veterans, and the wounded, injured, or sick. We hope that our efforts will not only help our heroes, but also inspire others to volunteer, donate, and support the men and women who so selflessly put their lives on the line for our freedoms.
Please join us as we salute and give thanks to our American Heroes!
Written by Jessica Johnson for American Hat Makers
Why choose American Hat Makers?
Are you looking to revitalize your sales with unique, high-quality products? For over 40 years, family owned American Hat Makers has offered superior quality and design across seven product lines. Our hats are proudly cut and sewn by hand in our 17,000 sq. foot facility in Watsonville, California, with attention down to the last detail. We stand confidently behind each and every item we make, and offer a lifetime guarantee on our entire line of products. At American Hat Makers our mission is to provide our customers with distinctive, one-of-a-kind, artisan hats cut and sewn by hand with the finest materials. Above and beyond the creation of superior products, we are dedicated to treating our customers, and employees with compassion, integrity, and a commitment to bettering our community through service, philanthropy, and open-hearted-ness.
American Hat Makers is currently in a period of hyper growth. We recently moved facilities, into a building 3x larger than our previous site. We want to take this opportunity to reach out and make new relationships with retail and wholesale partners, so that everyone may share and benefit from this growth.
All of our hats are assembled in house, allowing for a close eye to be kept on quality and consistency. We offer a lifetime guarantee on any product we manufacture, because they truly do last a lifetime. American Hat Makers offers an unconditional buyback program on any stock not sold, so there is no risk! If some of our hats do not sell, simply let us know and we will buy them back! With no dead inventory, there truly is no risk to buying American Hat Makers.
The world of American Hat Makers is far reaching. Our styles have been seen on the heads of countless celebrities and been featured in major motion pictures. This is a formal invitation for you to take the next leap that will push your business to the next level! We want to help you start selling a significant volume of the worlds highest quality hats with some of the highest margins anywhere!
The Sky is No Limit!
We hear about daring and brave people all the time. While there are a lot of true badasses out there in the world, it takes a special kind of person to deliberately plummet out of a plane from 12,000 feet. That’s something most people won’t even think about doing, let alone doing twice…or three times…or 6400+ times. Introducing Ben Lowe.
Ben is more than just a professional skydiver. Recognizable by the Mohawk haircut that he first received at age 8, Ben is a respected skydiving instructor who is dedicated to his students and growing the sport. Though his appearance suggests a rebel, he is a very approachable person who holds multiple USPA ratings, is an FAA Master Rigger, TonySuits Wingsuit Examiner and a Strong Enterprises and United Parachute Technologies Tandem Instructor Examiner. In 2012, his commitment to skydiving instruction earned him USPA’s Chesley H. Judy Safety Award. He’s even written a children’s book, “The Summer I Became a Skydiver.” Lowe is now using his years of experience to run Skydive Canyonlands in Moab, Utah, with Melissa Lowe.
Melissa Lowe is an AFF Instructor, Pro Rating, the co-creator of 4-way VFS, author of Sugar Alpha, and has 11 world records and a bunch of medals from USPA Nationals. Her world records include:
- 2003 –16-Way Women’s Vertical World Record
- 2004 – 42-Way Vertical World Record
- 2005 – 18-Way Women’s Vertical World Record
- 2005 – 151-Way JFTC Women’s RW World Record
- 2007 – 20-Way Women’s Vertical World Record
- 2007 – 69-Way Vertical World Record
- 2009 – 108-Way Vertical World Record
- 2010 – 41-Way Women’s Vertical World Record
- 2011 – 9-Way Women’s Wingsuit National Record (Unofficial World Record)
- 2012 – 138-Way Vertical World Record
- 2013 – 63-Way Women’s Vertical World Record
Our good pal Adam Rose of Fallen Owl Tattoo has had the pleasure of calling Ben and Melissa friends over the past years. He reminisces of the time they met fondly. Adam was learning all the in’s and out’s of skydiving from Denver Broncos Skydiving team member Cody Irby. Cody mentioned that his roommates were “good” skydivers, but Adam didn’t realize to what caliber until he noticed that the person on the large skydiving poster on the wall was the same person serving him dinner! When Adam commented on it, Melissa stood up and proclaimed, “Yeah, but I have more world records!”
The Lowe’s and American Hat Makers share very similar philosophies when it comes to running not just business, but any aspect of life. The Lowe’s are dedicated to improving the world around them, and they do that through skydiving. Recently, Ben and Adam have been working together on a charity event in which sick children will be given temporary tattoos so that they too can look like badass skydivers!
The Power of Rock N’ Roll!
Hardly a more powerful term has ever been coined. Hearing Rock and Roll can conjure images of leather, pyrotechnics, and powerful motorcycles, however these are not the only things that define Rock and Roll. At its core, Rock and Roll is the spirit and drive that all passionate musicians pour into their music. To be a part of such a free-spirited and rip-roaring genre would require equally powerful musicians.
Steven Tyler is an American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and former television music competition judge, best known as the lead singer of the Boston-based rock band Aerosmith, in which he also plays the harmonica, and occasional piano and percussion. He is known as the “Demon of Screamin'” due to his high screams and his wide vocal range. He is also known for his on-stage acrobatics. During his high-energy performances, Tyler usually dresses in bright, colorful outfits with his trademark scarves hanging from his microphone stand.
Alice Cooper is an American singer, songwriter, and actor whose career spans over five decades. With his distinctive raspy voice and a stage show that features guillotines, electric chairs, fake blood, deadly snakes, baby dolls, and dueling swords, Cooper is considered by music journalists and peers alike to be “The Godfather of Shock Rock”. He has drawn equally from horror films, vaudeville, and garage rock to pioneer a macabre and theatrical brand of rock designed to shock people.
Vincent Paul Abbott, also known as Vinnie Paul, is an American professional drummer and producer who is best known for being a former member, and co-founder, of the heavy metal band Pantera. He is currently a member of supergroup Hellyeah. He also co-founded the heavy metal band Damageplan in 2003 with his late younger brother, Dimebag Darrell.
Joseph Thomas “Joe” Elliott is an English singer-songwriter and musician, best known as the lead singer of the English rock band Def Leppard. He has also been the lead singer of the David Bowie tribute band the Cybernauts and the Mott the Hoople cover band Down ‘n’ Outz. He is one of the two original members of Def Leppard and one of the three to perform on every Def Leppard album.
Ron Blumenthal, better known by his stage name Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal, is an American guitarist, songwriter, recording artist and producer. He adopted his nickname from the bacterial infection of the same name, which he learned about while helping his wife study for her veterinary exams. The name went from being just the name of an album, to the name of a record label, to a band name, to eventually his name as a solo artist. He was one of two lead guitarists in Guns N’ Roses from 2006 until 2014 and performed on their sixth studio album Chinese Democracy.
James William Durbin is an American singer and guitarist from Santa Cruz, California who finished in fourth place on the tenth season of American Idol. Durbin is currently the lead singer for the heavy metal band, Quiet Riot. He was the lead singer in a band called Hollywood Scars, where he went by the stage name of Jimmy Levox. Influenced by bands such as Metallica, Pantera, Judas Priest, Dream Theater, Guns N’ Roses, Iron Maiden and Motley Crue, Hollywood Scars drew their inspiration from the glitz, glam, and decadence of Hollywood’s Sunset Strip in the 1980s and early 1990s. The band released a single entitled “Under The Cherry Tree”.
Todd Ögren-Brooks is the ultra talented keyboardist for the band Rival Sons. Rival Sons is an American rock band from Long Beach, California. Rival Sons was formed in 2009 from the ashes of guitarist Scott Holiday’s previous band Black Summer Crush (which featured Michael Miley on drums and Robin Everhart on bass). The band took shape when singer Jay Buchanan was persuaded to come in as vocalist on the re-recording of Before the Fire. The band currently features bassist Dave Beste after Robin Everhart left in August 2013. They are currently signed to Earache Records. In September 2013 Rival Sons supported Sammy Hagar across the US then played Hard Rock Vegas in December and started the New Year by headlining a street party in their hometown of Long Beach. Rival Sons toured the United Kingdom from March to April 2015 as well as playing the main stage at Download Festival in 2016. In October 2015 they recorded their fifth album Hollow Bones again with Dave Cobb in just three weeks. The album was released July 2016. After the recording they toured with Deep Purple in Europe. In 2016 they toured as main support for the entire Black Sabbath farewell world tour lasting the entire run.
Dave Yaden is a producer, songwriter and actor, he has co-written songs on records by Tyler Hilton, Josh Kelley, Josh Hoge, Curtis Peoples, and Lady Antebellum. Dave cut his teeth in the LA music scene playing in a number of bands while attending USC. He signed a record contract with Atlantic Records alongside singer-songwriter Joe Firstman. With Joe, he toured the country, opening for everyone from Sheryl Crow to Michelle Branch to Willie Nelson. He has recorded and performed with Josh Kelley, cowritten many songs on Josh’s records and played on his hit Amazing, featuring a prominent wurlitzer solo by Dave. He has appeared numerous times on a number of national television shows including Good Morning America, CDUSA, The Ellen Degeneres Show, The Tonight Show, MTVs TRL, and Late night with Carson Daly.
Kenny Kweens is an American musician who is best known for his nine-year tenure as bassist in the hard rock band Beautiful Creatures In 2009, Kweens left the group and joined L.A Guns (fronted by Phil Lewis), replacing previous bassist Scott Griffin. However, in 2011, Kweens departed, replaced by Griffin. On September 22, 2014, it was announced that Griffin had once again departed the band, and Kweens rejoined the band. Prior to joining Beautiful Creatures, Kweens was a member of Shake the Faith, No. 9, Diamond Star Halo and Melody Black while in 2008 he formed his own solo project titled Villains of Vaudeville.
Steven Scott “Steve” Harwell is an American musician who is best known as the lead vocalist for the band Smash Mouth. Smash Mouth is an American rock band from San Jose, California. The band was formed in 1994, and was originally composed of Steve Harwell (vocals), Kevin Coleman (drums), Greg Camp (guitar), and Paul De Lisle (bass). They are known for songs such as “Walkin’ on the Sun” (1997), “All-Star” (1999), and a cover of The Monkees’ “I’m a Believer” (2001), the latter two of which were featured on the soundtrack for the animated film Shrek.
The power of Rock N’ Roll is far reaching and intoxicating! Once you travel down the road of rock, you’ll never look back!
Sizing Your Head: Find the Perfect Fit!
Here at American Hat Makers, no head is too big! We offer a variety of sizes that guarantee we have a hat that will fit you. Finding the size that’s right for you is such an important part of getting a comfortable hat. Follow these directions and you’ll have an accurate measurement of the circumference of your head!
What you’ll need is a 3-foot length of ribbon or string, and a standard tape measure. First, take the length of ribbon and place it an 1/8 inch above your ear.
Next, bring the other end of the ribbon around your head until the two ends touch. Grab where the ribbon measurement ends, and get your tape measure.
Lastly, find a table where you can lay down the ribbon and measure the length. The length of the ribbon will tell you the circumference of your head, making it easier to narrow down a comfortable size!
That’s all there is to it!
American Hero: Frank Shankwitz
It’s not too often that we’re graced with the opportunity to meet a true American hero. Around 8 years ago, while attending the Secret Knock seminar, we at American Hat Makers had the opportunity to receive invaluable advice from the one and only Frank Shankwitz. As one of the founders of the Make-a-Wish foundation, Frank has dedicated the majority of his life to impacting the lives of terminally ill children through his selfless acts.
Raised in northern Arizona, Frank graduated from Prescott High School in 1961. Frank graduated from Phoenix College in 1970, with continuing education at Arizona Western College and Arizona State University.
Following high school, Frank enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, was stationed in England, and received an Honorable Discharge in 1965. Upon returning home, Frank was employed by Motorola, Inc. for seven years. In 1972, Frank started his career with the Arizona Department of Public Safety, assigned to the Arizona Highway Patrol as a car officer assigned to Yuma, Arizona where Frank’s interest in working with children began as a coach for the Special Olympics program.
In 1975, Frank was transferred to the Phoenix area to be part of a new 10-man Motorcycle Tactical Unit designed for work throughout the state. For the next 10 years, whenever assigned to small towns, Frank would visit local grade schools and talk about bicycle safety and let the children sit on his motorcycle.
Frank was one of the primary officers from the Arizona Highway Patrol who was responsible for granting the “wish” of a 7-year old boy with leukemia, who wanted to be a Highway Patrol Motorcycle Officer like his heroes, Ponch and John from the television show, “CHiPs”. Chris was made the first and only Honorary Arizona Highway Patrol Officer in the history of the Arizona Highway Patrol, complete with a custom made uniform, badge, and Motor Officer Wings.
Chris succumbed to his illness a few day after receiving his “wish”, and was buried with full police honors in Illinois, with Frank leading the police funeral procession. Chris was the inspiration for Frank’s idea to start a non-profit foundation that would let children ‘make a wish‘ and have it come true.
Officers Frank Shankwitz and Scott Stahl flew back to Illinois for the funeral, where Chris was given the ceremony of a fellow fallen officer. From the time the two officers landed in Chicago to when they left again, word spread of their story, and they were amazed at how strangers were affected by it. They talked on the flight home of making this the beginning of something wonderful for children. Meanwhile in Phoenix, similar discussions were taking place. At an officer’s retirement party, Shankwitz talked to Kathy McMorris, the wife of a DPS officer, about creating a wish-granting organization.That summer, a group of working-class DPS officers, friends and family gather. That meeting marked the beginning of Make-A-Wish. The first donation is $15, given to Shankwitz by a grocery store manager. In November of 1980 the group receives its tax-exempt status as a non-profit organization. By the following spring the group has raised $2000 and can grant its first official wish. Today, the organization grants wishes through its 61 chapters located throughout the US. Make-A-Wish also operates in 45 other countries around the world through 38 affiliate offices.
Frank retired as a Homicide Detective from the Arizona Department of Public Safety, returned as a sworn Reserve Detective assigned to the Prescott Police Department Cold Case Homicide Unit, and is the current secretary/member with the Yavapai County Mounted Sheriff’s Posse. Frank has 42 years of service in law enforcement.
Coming soon, a film centering around Frank’s life will be released. “Wish Man” covers Frank’s young life, the incidents and people who helped develop his character, and his adventures during his law enforcement career, including being killed in the line of duty and being brought back to life. And, finally, it portrays his realization of what his mission in life was when he met Chris, the little boy who inspired Frank’s idea to create the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Greg Reid, Dave Corbin, Frank Shankwitz, and Garth Watrous at the U.N. Greg was the recipient of the coveted “Excellence in Leadership and Empowerment” award.
Having the rare opportunity to meet with someone so passionate about helping others is truly inspiring. Frank’s actions have guaranteed that sick children worldwide have the chance to experience life’s immense joys, and have truly solidified his reputation as an American hero.
WESA was amazing!
This year’s WESA show was the best yet! For those that don’t know, the Western-English Sales Association is a trade show dealing with thousands of represented product lines and retailers . The WESA founders launched an initial trade show in Denver in January 1922, with the goal of creating a forum where retailers, manufacturers, and sales representatives could conduct business in an atmosphere of fair trade and fellowship. The resulting Denver International Western/English Apparel & Equipment Markets are the world’s largest trade events for the Equestrian Industry, attracting a constantly growing global audience to Denver’s world-class Markets.
We’ve been attending WESA’s awesome events since the 1980’s. This year, however, was something for the record books! Shortly before the show started, we caught word that the truck we had packed to the brim with all of our show supplies had been totaled in an accident and wouldn’t be making it’s delivery. This meant we would be left without a booth, and without any hats to show! At the last minute, we packed up all the hats we could, and hand carried fourteen boxes onto a plane bound for Denver.
When we arrived at the WESA show and let the staff know what a dire situation we were in, they immediately took us under their wing and turned the whole thing around. They provided us with all the parts necessary to build a booth, and even pointed us in the direction of a retailer that provided us with the exact shelving units we needed to display our hats! After an amazing show of meeting with new customers and reconnecting with old ones, we even won an award for Best Booth! We at American Hat Makers would like to extend a huge thank you to all the astonishing men and women at WESA for turning what could have been a disaster into a positive experience! Without your help, we would not have been able to have the rewarding and fulfilling experience we walked away from this year. We’re all looking forward to next year!