The 2018 Experiment: Seasonality and Facing Fears

For the last 4 years, I have been on a fast paced path with my business, Havstad Hat Company. At the age of 24 I started this company with no idea of where it would lead; I had no expectations and no experience in what a “start-up” would be like. It has been AMAZING, so challenging, so rewarding, and the greatest crash course in entrepreneurship. My love of hatmaking falls right in line with my love of storytelling, of connection and of collaboration. As many of you know, 3 years ago I began volunteering at a little farm on the outskirts of Bend, Oregon formerly known as Juniper Jungle Farm. As the fast moving train of Havstad Hat Co was gaining momentum, it was days on the farm the seemed to keep me from floating too high up into the clouds. The people at the farm and the action of farm work became a grounding counterbalance. It’s worth mentioning, full disclosure, that I had a crush on the farmer and my growing affection for him may have kept me coming back for more weeding and seeding and flirting. Chris and I are now engaged and this little farm has grown into a much bigger farm (still with the heart of organic and biodynamic practices) based in Madras, Oregon. I would love to go on and on about my love for this farm and the big dreams we have for it, but that will be for a future blog post. Tonight, I’d like to speak to the experiment that is 2018. This year I am attempting to create seasonality in my work life; I will be working 8 months of the year for Havstad Hat Co as a Hatter, and 3-4 months of the year for Casad Family Farms as a farmer. For two years I have been working toward creating seasonality in my hat production work so that for the height of the farming season, June through September, I could slow down my hat production life and partake in the daily work of farming. Finally, after two years of hustle, learning, successes, failures, attempts to find balance, lots of getting off balance, overcommitting and playing catch up… I’m finally at the point I’ve dreamed of getting to. I am able to pause hat production for 3 months to work full time for our farm. I am both so excited, and so scared. Making a choice to pause production has illuminated some really interesting fears. Aside from my dedication to building our farm business and my desire to support my partner (who has been so supportive of me building my business), recognizing the fears that this decision has brought up in me further validates that I MUST do this. Though this is vulnerable to share, I believe it’s important to share what these fears are because they may resonate with other people reading this, and these are the types of thoughts that I never want to allow myself to be stifled by. I am afraid that by taking a break from the hustle of building hats and promoting my company, I will become irrelevant. I am afraid that I will not have enough money. I am afraid that people will think I am not dedicated to my craft. I am afraid that when I return to full time production, my irrelevance will result in no orders and therefore poverty, failure, destroying the thing I worked so hard to create. I am afraid the long hard days in the heat, in the fields, are going to be brutal and I won’t be able to keep up. THERE. I said it. When I take time to look those fears straight on, I realize they aren’t fears based on real threats, (except for having my butt kicked by the physical labor) they are primarily ego driven fears, products of a lifetime of enculturation. You know what would be worse than having no money, no following, no customers? Living a life ruled by these ego driven fears.

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” —Nelson Mandela

I have been a dedicated student to the craft of hatmaking and of business for 5 years and I will continue being a dedicated student for most of the year. But, life has brought me to where I am, here on this farm and with this wonderful farmer, and it’s time I give myself fully to becoming a student of farming and farm business. This certainly won’t be “time off.” While I have been working very hard for HHC, farm work is another kind of hard, and it will push me in ways I haven’t been pushed yet. I welcome the challenge. I know there are many lessons to come that will only make me more resilient in all aspects of life, work and love. It seems to me that unaddressed fears can fester inside and become crippling anxiety. The exercise of writing my fears down honestly and transparently has helped light a fire in me that pushes me to prove, through action, that these fears are not valid. So, that’s what I’m off to do. I’m off to find the courage, to become the woman I’d like to be, one not ruled by fear but pushed by the desired to triumph over it. If you have read this very personal piece as a friend, family member, or fan of Havstad Hat Co. I thank you. I will be writing throughout the next four months about the going-ons at the farm, and you can follow along on Instagram @casadfamilyfarms or come see us at one of the 3 farmers markets a week in Bend, Oregon. I am finishing up all current orders this month and will not be taking any new orders until September 2018. If you have wanted to order a hat and are just learning about this, you can send me an email and I will save your spot on the production list when I reopen for orders in September. If you’re not willing to wait, that’s ok, I’m not your hatter. I hope that by walking through this life with pure intentions and courage to face my fears, I might inspire other people to do the same. As far as we know, we have this one life to live out and it’s up to us to do all that we can, with what we have, in the place we are at. So here I go, digging in. With love, Cate Havstad

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