At the base of Bridger Bowl, Courtney Green is carefully re-introducing Montana’s heritage with her own hands. Courtney, the maker behind Montana Territory Hat Co., is using her creative skill to bring back the nostalgic roots of Montana’s Western heritage building custom cowboy hats. Each hat tells a story, inviting travelers and tourists to experience and remember Montana’s big skies and the time they spent beneath those big skies and towering peaks. The hats also tell the story about generations of western families that have worked the land and developed a sense of belonging, calling Montana’s mountain ranges and plains home for the past 100 years.
Courtney started her Montana Hat Company in the Fall of 2019. After eleven years in the fast fashion industry, she wanted to make something that was authentic and had the ambition to build a design process that was based on making iconic products rooted in real heritage. The idea of curating a piece that reflects a place is very personal to Courtney. “The finished product is very authentic to me and my background and to the American cowboy culture and ethos.” Courtney explains, “These hats have a clear purpose and they’re rooted in a history of an item that was actually needed, and that’s how I curate mine.”
Green makes and shapes the hats by hand, using beaver pelts and adding customized designs on them. Through her creativity and handmade process, the hats become pieces of art. Customers get to experience wearing a story rooted in Montana’s history. Some of the hats have silhouettes of the Bridger Mountain Range and many people request mountain range designs that add a very personal touch to each hat.
“They put on the hat and it’s like a part of them, there’s a whole other story behind it which is my goal for any product. When they take the hat home, the hats evolve into their own stories. Each individual gives it their own story. They are rooted in a real authentic heritage that could be a piece of a place. I carefully craft and develop a product so it will last forever.”
Her entire process is 100% handmade. She carefully crafts the hats the same way they were first made in the 19th Century. The curation and molding of the hats is a slow and delicate process. Courtney’s intention with her custom hats includes celebrating Montana as a state of freedom, hope, resilience, and strong work ethic. For Courtney, Montana is “wild, rugged, and raw, but it’s also completely peaceful and rich in its history, art, and culture.” She wants to emulate the power of working with your hands and relates that technique to the history of ranchers in Montana.
“I think back to the ranchers and to the people that made Montana what it is today.” Courtney says, “There’s a lot of working with your hands and humility through hard work and resilience, but you do it because you love the land and respect the work you do. The people live here because they love Montana, they care about the land and they want to work hard to protect this place to keep it how it is. That’s why I build with my hands, to remember this place and its history and the people who made it what it is today.”
Courtney’s customers come from all over the country and the world. She receives requests for hats through her website and they range from local cowboys to cowgirls, to tourists visiting Montana for the first time. She wants tourists to leave Montana and remember the big skies and open roads, so they can create their own story with the authentic hats, preserving Montana’s ranching culture and continuing to tell these stories of heritage and the history of Montana’s people and places.
In the future, she would love to share her process with her guests so they can take a peek into the creative process behind making the hats. Her main focus for the future of Montana Territory Hat Co. is that the business stays authentic, small, and the vision stays clear that guests are buying a piece of a place that tells a story of Montana’s past, present, and future. These hats serve a purpose. Montana Territory Hat Co. invites everyone to become a part of the process. A process that is carefully crafted by hand and inspired by a long and rich heritage of open space and big skies.