Growing up around horses, actually if you weren’t old enough to drive, riding horses was just about all there was to do in Ojai. Plus it usually provided an escape from the monthly Saturday Cotillion dance classes my parents felt important to my upbringing. If we were riding deep in the thick of the fragrant orange groves, we avoided the call to return home and bathe for dancing with the stinky public school boys. Not that the Catholic schoolboys were any nicer, but we were the few Catholic school girls in the monthly dance lessons, thus we didn’t know anyone and were always the last to be picked to dance. I’m certain I am scarred for life by having to attend Cotillion.
As a younger child, I played in a full cowhide leather chaps and vest outfit that I inherited from my dad and grandfather. Hats and cowboy hats are seemingly ingrained in my soul, perhaps my spirit animal is found on the wide-open dusty plains. I also spent every Friday night watching Rawhide with the young Clint Eastwood as Rowdy Yates…now, you really know my age!
When I met with the Triple Creek Ranch Marketing and Sales Director in Menlo Park, I immediately knew the tall woman in the fabulous cowboy hat couldn’t be a local at the Rosewood Hotel bar! I experienced instant hat envy, Jennifer O’Donohue, promised to take me to her hat maker in Darby, Montana if I visited Triple Creek Ranch. True to her promise, we made time for a stop to the Double H Hat Company. The shop is located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains in Darby, Montana.
Known to the hat cognoscenti, Double H Hat Company, owner Jimmy Harrison, simply known as ‘Jimmy the hat man’, warmly welcomed us. I have a few straw cowboy hats that pack for travel, but not a fancy felt western hat. Cowboy hats have defined limitations for me, but I was headed to the Santa Fe Spanish Market. I knew exactly what I needed, a hat to shade me but in a distinctive Spanish style and a hat I can wear at home as well.
Oh my, so many temptations, logic and practicality almost flew right out the door. Double H Hat Company specializes in custom handmade felted fur hats in various styles including western, gentlemen and ladies hats. Quality handmade hats are customized to your specifications: color, style and details. Jimmy offers a variety of custom embellishments, including made to order inlays, for a unique hat custom designed for each customer. A hat can be built for any occasion including weddings, outdoor adventures, or just to match your new car! I’ve got boxes and boxes of hats, a room full to validate his point.
Jimmy started in the hat business after he apprenticed for a year and a half under a lady hat maker. He had always been shaping hats and cutting down hats since he was young and in rodeo with his friends. Not just any rodeo rider, he was a bull rider! He wasn’t happy in the insurance business with his father so when a local business came up for sale, he decided to take advantage of it and started Double H Custom Hat Company.
Jimmy also visits Triple Creek Ranch on Monday nights invited by the owner Craig Barrett, former Intel CEO, to design custom hats for their guests. Jimmy has designed hats for Emmylou Harris, former Mayor Willie Brown, Garth Brooks, and thousands of common folk!
The process begins with placing a metal device on the customer’s head, like a helmet with gaps, with small bolt adjustors; he takes an accurate measurement of your head. Note taking continues, followed by perusing the fabrics and trims from his workshop bench. Six weeks later, he ships your hat. He has shipped to Africa and the South Pole Station.
But hat travelers on a mission can purchase right out of his store. Mentioning that I already had two carry-ons and there might be wind in Santa Fe, Jimmy offered to make a beautiful ribbon tie with a horsetail tassel to keep my hat on in wind and for my trek through airports…there I went, beautiful hat bobbing on my back, dangling from a custom tassel. A perfect hat, a sunshade, and picture perfect for Spanish Market and for local outings.
Thank you Jennifer & Jimmy! You can find Jimmy and Double H Hats in the South Bitterroot Valley on Highway 93 in Darby Montana all summer but in winter he moves to his winter store in Wickenburg Arizona. http://doublehhats.com/index.html
Giddy up, saddle up and hats off to Jimmy!