Cate Havstad – Cultivating Creativity & Craftsmanship

Cate Havstad

Cate Havstad is a hat maker and farmer based in central Oregon whose abundant curiosity, creativity, and love of place have allowed her to transform her passions into a full-time and fulfilling career. As a hat maker, Cate’s unique style and unwavering commitment to quality have attracted customers ranging from music stars like Gillian Welch and Nikki Lane to hard-working ranchers and farmers throughout the American West. As a farmer, Cate and her partner are deeply committed to regenerative agriculture and the positive impact that their local efforts can have on a global scale. It’s safe to say she’s living a life guided by purpose and passion.

Born and raised in northern California, Cate was a driven athlete in her youth, as evidenced by her desire to be the first woman to play in the NBA (that’s the NBA, not the WNBA). As a young woman, a fortuitous series of events landed her in a hat maker’s workshop, where she applied that same focus and drive toward learning the craft of hat making. After accumulating experience and confidence as an apprentice, she struck out on her own and now creates some of the most sought-after, stylish, and functional hats on the market today. Cate’s life and work are closely connected to the landscape of central Oregon, and her other job as an organic farmer has given her a deep understanding of the role that regenerative agriculture can play in conservation, community building, and reversing climate change.

As you’ll hear in our conversation, Cate is extremely curious, well-read, and and knowledgeable on a wide range of subjects. We talk about her journey as a hat maker, and how she cultivates creativity and consistent production in a world filled with an increasing number of distractions. We discuss regenerative agriculture and how many people, including well-meaning environmentalists, don’t fully understand the importance of farmers and ranchers in the conservation movement. Cate is a devoted meditator and runner, so we talk about how both of those practices have improved her creativity and outlook. We also chat about Wendell Berry, Michael Pollan, Steven Pressfield, and how those authors’ works have impacted her life. There’s a lot to learn in this episode.

This was a fun conversation that could have continued for hours.  Be sure the check the episode notes below for links to everything we discussed—it’s a long list! Hope you enjoy!

Cate Havstad art piece by (former podcast guest) Teal Blake

Header photo by Amanda Leigh Smith, others courtesy of Cate Havstad

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Episode Notes

Topics Discussed:

2:55 – How Cate describes her work
3:45 – How Cate began making hats
6:00 – Connection to music
6:50 – Cate’s childhood and early influences
8:20 – Leaving college to go on tour
10:25 – New influences of creative people
12:30 – Cate’s parents’ opinion of her taking a break from school
13:45 – Returning to school
15:00 – Goal of becoming a trail guide in Oregon
15:40 – Working as a hat making apprentice
17:40 – Cate’s decision to strike out on her own
20:50 – Advantages of working on simple equipment
22:10 – When Cate knew she could make a full-time career of hat making
24:40 – Havstad Hat Co fans, including Lyle Lovett
28:15 – Process oriented versus goal oriented
30:00 – Cate’s methods for cultivating creativity and her business
31:40 – Thoughts on Pressfield’s “War of Art”
33:45 – Cate’s meditation practice
40:00 – How teaching workshops has influenced her work
43:20 – How Central Oregon influences her work
45:20 – Experiences running in Central Oregon
47:00 – Cate’s experience farming
48:10  – Wendell Berry discussion
50:30 – Agricultural as a vital part of conservation
57:00 – Good books on connection to land
59:30 – Balancing social media and mindful living
1:07:40 – Favorite books
1:09:15 – Favorite documentaries
1:10:15 – Surprising activity
1:11:05 – Favorite location in the West
1:12:20 – Best advice ever received
1:13:20 – Request of the listeners
1:15:20 – Connect with Cate online
Information Referenced

(Note: In the spoken podcast intro, I mistakenly said that Lyle Lovett was a customer, when in fact he’s actually a big fan of Cate’s work. Cate’s customers include Gillian Welch, Nikki Lane, and a long list of other talented musicians and actors. Sorry for any confusion!)

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