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Old Soul

Eric Watson may be just 33, but he’s making custom hats with the skill of a craftsman with 50 years in the business.

If you want a hat that not only looks good but stands out from the crowd, you’ve got to go custom. That’s where Eric Watson comes in.

“As a kid I loved Indiana Jones—every kid did—and that’s what inspired me,” the hat-maker says. He learned that a quality topper is made by professionals with antique equipment using old techniques. And with that in mind, he went off to pursue a career as a commercial airline pilot.

Wait. What?

Yes, Watson has two degrees, and one of them is in commercial aviation. But when the economy went south, he questioned his decision. Thinking back to the fun times he had practicing hat-making, he decided to take things to the next level. “I wanted to do something that I knew I could control the outcome,” he explains. 

Watson founded his eponymous hat shop in Cave Creek in 2012. Since then, the business has expanded three times. In fact, the company will expand again in September with a new location in Stagecoach Village at 7100 E. Cave Creek Road in Cave Creek.

The hat-maker’s discerning clients pay between $500 and $950 on average, but that’s not the limit. “We go all the way up on our felt hats to $5,000, and our Panamas we’ve sold as high as $5,000, but we can go much higher,” Watson says. The end product really depends on the quality of the material a client desires and how much the client is willing to spend.

Looking for something unique to set yourself apart at the next big event? Consider a custom hat. In around eight weeks, Watson can turn out something unique to you that no one else will own—and he’s confident you’ll enjoy it. “When [customers are] able to move forward with their custom hat and we make it for them, they’re usually a customer for life,” he says.

Hats off to that.

Making fedoras, movies, playing the piano, planes, antique equipment

Cheap/poor quality materials, factory-made hats, products that aren’t made in the United States