© Jill Richards
Hat MakerS. Grant Sergot
After moving to Arizona from Michigan in 1972, it wasn’t long before S. Grant Sergot realized he needed a hat to protect himself from the scorching sun. The problem was finding a hat that could do the job. “All I could find were these cardboard things that don’t break in,” he says. “They were as hard as the box they came in.” Sergot finally found a Panama hat at an estate sale for $15. And so began his career as a “milliner/renovator.” Today, at Óptimo Hatworks, his shop in Bisbee, Sergot not only crafts exquisite, hand-woven Panama-straw and fur-felt hats using tools that date to the Civil War and the early 20th century (for that “old-world style”), he also restores antique hats — a skill he taught himself. “If I’m going to accept a family heirloom, I need to know what I’m doing,” he says. “There are no teachers; there’s no literature on this.” Despite the demands of his work — the hours, days and even weeks it can take to complete a hat — Sergot wouldn’t change a thing. “I love everything about my job,” he says. “There’s always something to learn, and I never get bored.” — Kathy Ritchie
Óptimo Hatworks is located at 47 Main Street in Bisbee. For more information, call 520-432-4544 or visit www.optimohatworks.com.