Leather as an Artwork


Most people have a dominant side of their brain. Left-brained people are conventionally thought to be good with numbers, sciences, rules. Right-brained people are thought to be creative, artistic, outside-the-box thinkers. So when you’re retired from careers in business and medicine what do you do in retirement? Well, for Donna and Tom Hathaway they let their right brains take over.

Tom retired first from a long career in his own business. Donna followed a few years later from her career with a PhD in Nursing. Both were well experienced in managing people, budgets, and business. Both Donna and Tom had connections with several generations of leather craftsmen. And so Lakeland Leatherworks was born.

People, tom stamping holsters

The Hathaways enjoy the commute from their home to across the road to the business. From their storefront at 10305 Monroe Road in Lakeland, TN they create custom pieces with the help of Jean Garny and new intern Katy Hinton. Donna describes Jean as an “absolute craftsman who excels in leather carving and tooling.”  Katy is “an all around artist working in multiple media such as glass blowing, beading, textiles, and leather,” boasts Donna. While there are pieces for sale in the showroom, Donna says most of their creations are commissioned pieces.

Lakeland Leatherworks can be found at a few local art shows and several larger shows around the country. Clients have also found them through advertising in the Mid-South Horse Review and the Cowboys & Indians magazine. Word of mouth keeps a steady stream of clients coming to them as well. Donna and Tom seem to be comfortably busy in their retirement business which she notes is “everything but boots and saddles.”

People, jean with bag and masks

When asked about the successful transition to working together in this endeavor Donna confesses, “You have to have some talent and ability in both business and artistic talent.” For this couple, commuting to work across the road from their home and spending the day together creating pieces that will be treasured is the very best way to spend their retirement.

Lakeland Leatherworks is on Facebook and store hours are generally 9-4 Monday through Saturday and by appointment.


Michele Harn

Michele is a Contributing Writer for the Horse Review. She has been involved with horses in many different areas. At 4 years old, a Welsh pony started her on the road to riding and competing. Michele is experienced in Western, Saddle Seat, Barrel Racing, Dressage, Fox Hunting and Carriage Driving. She moved to the Mid-South from Wisconsin in the summer of 2021.

icon Subscribe

to Our Newsletter