Gary Watrous started American Hat Makers in the early 1970â€™s. With an investment of $20 in leather and $20 in leather working tools, he began making belts, wallets, and purses and selling them from the back of his 1963 Chevy station wagon. In the mid 70â€™s, Gary created a leather hat for his own use. He loved it so much that hats quickly became his calling and sole artistic focus. His son Garth joined his father as a partner in American Hat Makers in 2005. The family owned company is based in Watsonville, California.