Third-generation master hatter Joella Gammage Torres spent much of her childhood in the back rooms of Texas Hatters, a shop founded by her grandfather and known for its creations for musicians such as Jerry Jeff Walker and Willie Nelson. As a teenager, Torres learned the trade from her father, Manny Gammage. To avoid sewing, which was her least-favorite task, she threw herself into making hatbands, the decorative piece around the crown. Torres now runs the business with her husband, David—they moved it from Buda to Lockhart in 2006—but she still loves customizing leather with stamps, tooling, and hand-painted designs. “A hatband says something about the person wearing it, just like the hat does,” she says.
This article originally appeared in the September 2021 issue of Texas Monthly with the headline “Band Leader.” Subscribe today.