Q The most often asked Question we get has nothing to do with the work we do, but why our last name is Hathaway, and the name of the company is Maj. Tom Harvey Leatherworks.
A The answer is simple. The Major was my great, great, great grandfather. And my linage goes through my mother, who was Laura Evelyn Harvey so my last name became Hathaway when mom married my dad. Now to confuse it even further, on the other side of my family, my father's name should have been Allen because his great grandfather went west in the mid 1800's with the great gold rush. When Mr. Allen, a widower, went west he left his son with Rev. and Mrs. Allen who was a Methodist preacher in Southern Iowa. When Mr. Allen failed to return in a few years and no one was able to locate him, the preacher and his wife adopted my great grandfather and changed his name from Allen to Hathaway. Now the only real significance this had to me was that when in school, regardless of where the teacher started the count off, I was always in the middle of things. I never got to be first.
Anyway, going back to the big question, we were always much closer to our maternal grandparents than to our faternal grandparents. Don't know why, but we were. So I got to grow up learning all the stories about that side of the family. The best stories of all were about Major Tom (Thomas) Harvey. You've got to understand that the Major was born just about the turn of the centuries between late 1700 hundred and 1800 hundred. He was raised in Virginia, one of the thirteen colonies. The Major evidently was fairly politically savy because in the mid 1920's he was appointed as the very first Secretary of Indian Affairs this country ever had. He served in this capacity under two Presidents of the United States.
The Major was dispatched to St. Louis, Missouri located on one of the last jumping off points to the wilderness. Even though his office was in St. Louis where the Missouri and Mississippi rivers merged the Major frequently traveled west for months at a time to visit the Indians and the people who were settling out west. During his travels the Major discovered a very fertile area in Mid-Missouri in what is now known as Saline County, on the south bluffs of the Missouri river. The Major over time obtained land from the government where he built a large estate. Later the Major retired from being the Secretary of Indian Affairs in Washington and became an Indian Agent based in the area where he had obtained land ownership.
As the story goes the Major, who had met many times with the Chiefs of the various Indian tribes that he served, turned his large land holdings into a camping area for Indians to use during the winter months. Indians from the various tribes would come into the Major's land in the late fall and would stay there during the bitter winters until early spring. The Indians were of course nomadic and the Major knew that it would be easier to provide what the Indians needed on his property than to try to travel out to see them in the winter. After all there was ample water on the property, a large abundance of wildlife available for hunting, and he could accommodate hundreds of Indians there during the winter.
Of course, during all of this time working directly with the Indians of various tribes, the Major learned a lot about their ways, their religion, and their love of nature. In Honor of the Major, I decided to name my company after him.
I should add that not only am I a descendant of the Major, but I also have hanging on the wall in my home, a very large wall map of the entire area where the Major served, showing the various tribes and the land they controlled west of Missouri all the way to the Pacific Ocean. I also have various other artifacts from that time and from the Civil War era on display in my home as well.
I am the only descendent known to bear the Major's given name. And to this day my family and extended family own the land where the Major and the native Indians lived in the 1800's.
Q How to I find your shop?
A No problem. It is easy. Regardless where you are coming from, just get on Interstate 40. Once you get there find your way in the direction of Memphis, TN. Memphis is located in the South West corner of Tennessee, where it meets with Mississippi on the South and Arkansas on the West. Memphis is located on the Mississippi river, which runs along the west side of the downtown area. Our shop is located just off interstate 40 east of Memphis at exit 30 (on the very east side of Memphis if you are coming from Nashville).
Once you arrive at Exit 30, you want to go south, if coming from the city, where you want to take a right on Canada Road. If coming from Nashville, take a left on Canada Road and cross over the interstate. The first thing you will see is a gas station/convenience store on the left. The next thing you will see is the entrance to an outlet mall area. If you are driving anything less than a large Tour Bus, just turn into the Discount Mall area (first opportunity to turn left after the gas station. (If you are a Tour Bus the directions will follow at the bottom). If you are not a Tour Bus, then drive to the mall area and circle the mall to the right to the Southeast corner where you will see a service road that quickly drops down onto a cross street. This street is Monroe Road. Turn left and go to the fourth house on the right. You have arrived where our shop is located. Pass through the brick entryway and park at the end of the cement driveway. Someone should be there to meet you very quickly. Be careful and drive slow because we often see deer crossing the road along here. So, in short it is a right or left onto Canada Road, then a left into the Mall area, then a left on Monroe (not marked with a street sign) and a right at the 4th house with the wagon wheel at the entrance.
Those who may be coming from the South, can take future Interstate I-485 North from I-55, to Highway 64. Turn West on I-40 to next exit (Exit 30) then follow directions above/below.
Large Buses If you are one of our entertainment customers in a large Tour Bus, the directions are a little different because of a couple of turns. First, get on Canada Road at exit 30 and go South about one mile. You will past a mobile home court on the left, and will immediately see a street named Monroe Road on your left. (If you go the stop light, you went too far). Turn left on Monroe and follow that until you navigate two sharp turns. Then look for the 3rd house on the right. Turn into the gravel drive way (immediately before you get to the 4th house and it's bricked entryway). Drive to the back of the driveway to the large cement parking area. We have both water, elect. and sewer hook-up if needed as well as a guest house for entertainment guest and those traveling with them.
The Memphis entertainment area (Beale Street, Fed X Forum and the Pyramid, and several recording studios are located 25 minutes away from our location and the Tunica Casino area is located less than 45 minutes South of us. Nashville is located 3 hours east on I 40.
Q How long does it take to receive an order after it is placed?
A That all depends on what you order. For instance a saddle might take anywhere from 3 to 6 months, but a belt would only take maybe a couple of weeks or less. The larger the item, the more complicated it is, and the more personalized it is will dictate the length of time it takes to make what it is you want.
An example might be a piece of apparel. Let's say you want a custom made jacket. This will involve a few phone calls on our part, and maybe some e-mails to finalize the design, leather type and color, and any decorative trim or notions that are needed. If the design requires special fitting, we may make a mock-up of broad cloth to make sure the fit is perfect before making the final leather garment. Typically a leather garment will take anywhere from 3 weeks to 6 weeks to complete once we have your measurements and complete order. Of course this will also depend on the complexity of the design and what may already be in the que.
When it comes to items that we resale, the timing is much shorter because we simply have to package it and send it to you. There might be some instances where an item is on backorder for a few days, but normally you can expect to receive what you order within a week or so. Often quicker. If not we will notify you. Also, if you need it quicker, we can send it 3 day, 2 day or even overnight. Remember, if you need it quickly, we have a great advantage. We live here in the Memphis area. We can get something to Federal Express by mid-night and you can have it before noon the next day. That means you can have what you want within12 hours if necessary.
Q Where do you get your leather and stones?
A We buy from suppliers here in the United States. We are considering eventually buying direct from some locations in Europe, especially Italy which is known for it's fine leathers. We have traveled there several times and hope to be able to establish a trade agreement with some of the finer tanneries in Europe for their products. Most of our products come from California, Ohio, and Mass. We try never to let any leather into our operations that comes from other countries, unless it is from Europe and then only if we have visited the actual tanneries or suppliers. We do bring in crystal from Austria and some rare jewels and decorative items from other countries. We do not buy any "blood" diamonds or other stones.
Q What type of leather hides do you use?
A In in the apparel business, most of the hides come from a variety of animals, including but not limited to lamb, sheep, deer, buffalo, cow, Kangaroo and so forth. Often some type of exotic hide might be used for decorations or accents, depending on the customers desires. With saddles, chaps, wallets, belts, and so forth, hides most usually come from cattle. We use no hides from any source unless we can verify to our satisfaction that the animal that produced the hide was not slaughtered for the purpose of obtaining the hide. It makes no sense for a cow, sheep or other animal's hide to be thrown in the dump when than animal is initially slaughtered for human consumption. Neither do we think it makes any sense if an animal dies and the hide is retrieved in time to use it for another purpose.
Q Are you aware of anyone who raises animals in order to kill them and sell their hides.
A No, and if we were to learn of this we would not buy any of their hides.
Q What is the difference between an embossed belt and a stamped belt?
A Lots. An embossed belt can usually be spotted almost immediately. It is just too exact in most ways. What happens when someone makes an embossed belt is that they simply have a rolling machine that they put the belt blank into. These factories put multiple belt blanks in a machine side by side and other ones behind them. They then turn on the machine which pulls the belt blanks through a press that embosses the design onto the belt. There is essentially no hand work done on these belts. They produce them hundreds at a time all just the same and most often sell them through large outlets like Wall Mart, various department stores, gas stations, at flea markets, and even at most western wear stores. There is absolutely no craftsmanship to these belts whatsoever.
A belt that has been stamped by hand (we will talk about craved belts next) normally takes several hours to complete. There may be up to or more than 500 or more separate strokes by the craftsman to make one of these belts. The stamping is deeper on a handmade belt, which means it will last much longer and should be treasured as an authentic hand made belt. It can be personalized where embossed belts cannot. There are at least 12 separate steps that must be completed to make a handmade belt and each of those tasks involved many steps within themselves, the most of which is of course the actual stamping.
With hand carved belts, the same steps apply as in making a stamped belt, but instead of stamping the belt the belt is carved and tooled. It is very labor intensive but it provides a very high quality leather product.
When someone questions why a custom or handmade belt or other item cost so much, it is easy to explain. The embossed belt might only take 5 minutes to make, all by machine, while the handmade belt might take at least 4 or more hours to make. Would you rather have the embossed belt for $50.00 or, a true one-of-a-kind handmade belt for maybe $95.00? It is all about value and craftsmanship.
The same holds true for custom made clothing. Does a woman want something she can be proud of for years? Does she want something that will look totally different from everyone else, stylish and beautiful, that will wear for years and years without any problems? Yes, it might cost more, but it would be almost impossible for you to walk into an event and find someone else there wearing the same dress, skirt, jacket, or top.
Remember, there will be no label in our apparel that says the item was made in China, India, Taiwan, or Mexico. The apparel we make is made totally in the good old United States of America.
Q How do I keep people's hands off of me when I wear one of the outfits you made me? Everyone wants to feel the material it is made from.
A Yes, Donna (my wife) knows this happens. Don't you love it? People often come up to our customers when they wear our garments and want to feel the leather. First they cannot believe the material is really leather. Second, they want to know where you purchased it and they are always surprised to learn how easy it is to keep clean and ready to wear.
Well, we have no answer for how to keep people from wanting to feel your leather garments. Most people will only want to look and ask questions about it. But a few will want to take a feel, usually on the sleeve or along the bottom of the piece. That is just something you might have to live with.
As for wanting to know where you purchased it, most of our clients take great pride in showing their friends the personalized label sewn into a seam of each piece we make that says, "Custom Made For -your name- by Donna Hathaway". And all you say is: "Dr. Donna and The Major made it for me", and then smile really big.