Head‘n Home Hats - Our Family Story
Gary Watrous, 1985
Greetings hat lovers. My name is Gary Watrous and I started this adventure called Head ‘N Home in the early 1970’s. With an investment of $20 in leather and $20 in leather working tools I began making belts, wallets, and purses and selling them from the back of my 1963 Chevy station wagon. I must have been doing something right as my “artwork” was received with a rewarding enthusiasm. Sometime in the mid 70’s, I created a leather hat for my own wear, loved it, and never looked back. Hats quickly became my sole artistic focus and calling. Mostly self taught while learning in the “schooI of hard knocks”, I have also had the good fortune to have had tremendous support and advice from many talented hat professionals and knowledgeable individuals over the years.
I have also had the good fortune to have a creative and supportive family, many of whom have chosen to join me as the demand for my handmade hat designs has grown. I would like to introduce them to you (in no particular order).
My son Garth was born into the leather world. He was always part of the creative and business side of this “home business”. Working with me summers and weekends through his teens, Garth has always been interested in all sides of the business. After graduating from San Diego State University, he returned with an enthusiasm that has proven rewarding in so many ways. If I am the heart of Head ‘N Home, Garth is now the head of Head ‘N Home.
My brother Lee started with me in the mid 1980’s. Always with an eye to what’s selling, Lee’s designs have become the meat and potatoes of our line. Lee’s business acumen has and continues to be a valuable resource for us as well. I look forward daily to seeing what Lee’s eye to the functional combined with his artistic ability will bring to our proverbial hat rack.
The fireball of energy that is my sister Ronia is an inspiration and motivator for us all. If there is a demanding job to be done, she can always be counted on. On the creative side, her floral and feather designs add color and femininity to our line. I also rely on her artistic vision in designing display and marketing to show our hats in the very best light.
Some would say my greatest creation, my daughter Heather has brought in an exciting and new perspective on hat design. Fresh out with a degree in art from San Francisco State University, Heather’s unique visions bring in the young, the brave and the bold. It is always a treat to see the new designs she brings to the table.
Merry-Lee Rae (Watrous)
My wife of the last 23+ years, Merry-Lee is a world renowned cloisonné artist. Our meeting as neighbors at an art festival blossomed into a true love and a dynamic collaboration. Always my mentor and supporter, Merry-Lee has recently begun to contribute her artistic talents to the leather medium, and gratefully to our hats in particular. Her innovative designs and metal work make up an impressive part of both our Steampunk and Ashbury brands. Her 40+ years of artistic creations bring into play an amazing addition to this new (for her) medium. Merry-Lee’s cloisonné can be viewed at www.merryleerae.com
I am a lucky man to have such a family of supporters. I also believe that you, the hat lover, benefits from this talented group every time you search for that perfect piece of art to become the topper of your attire.
Gary Hatman Watrous