“I’m often asked, ‘How in the world did you get started in a business like this?’ This video tells my story”
– Colonel Littleton
The Great American Leather Company ® . . . To us, it’s more than just a name.
America grew up as a country making things – building things. That’s our heritage as a nation and a people. It’s the American way. The Great American Leather Company® embodies the hopes and dreams of generations of Americans. We take great pride in the fact that our products are handcrafted in small town America (Lynnville, TN – Pop. 327) using many of the same tools and methods used by our forefathers. Since we are the Great American Leather Company®, we go the extra mile to live up to our heritage in quality and service as a testament to those who have paved the way before us.
Colonel was asked to share some thoughts on the company and the value of a small business by Tennessee’s Department of Economic & Community Development. Here is the Interview:
How It All Started
People are always asking me, “How in the world did you get started in a business like this?”
I don’t want to say “by accident,” but it was a little that way.
My previous line of work took me to some of the finest men’s stores in the country. Even though these stores had the best to offer in clothing and accessories and a clientele that appreciated finer things, I found their selection of gifts to be seriously lacking and not at all consistent in quality with their other merchandise.
So, I saw a real need for unique gift items of high quality.
It all started when I bought 17 pairs of vintage cufflinks back in 1987. After carefully hand designing the packaging for 17 pairs, I took them to a few of the stores on which I called. I returned empty-handed, selling all 17 pairs.
The excitement of providing others with products that were unique and designing my own packaging set the wheels turning, and the Col. Littleton business was born.
From antique cufflinks, I moved into pocket knives, which I had always personally liked. Knives became my new passion as I brought consumers fine collections with handles of Mother of Pearl and bone made much like they would have been made 100 years ago.
I saw a need for people to have family keepsakes, so personalization of products became important to me. My philosophy was “What would you take for your Granddaddy’s pocket knife with his name and the date he received it engraved on the handle?” It would be priceless in most families.
I’ve always been a collector by nature, and I’ve always wanted to know how and why something worked. I was the little kid who took things apart and put them back together.
Most of the things I do have a nostalgic feel to them… things that are handcrafted… things that can be personalized and passed down in families. I have a real respect for days gone by and get a lot of inspiration for new products from the past.
Over the years, my business has expanded from cufflinks and knives to leather goods, home accessories, business accessories, belts, hats, jewelry and more – all quality, unique products crafted with a special touch.
I personally design each product – whether it’s constructing a leather cell phone holster from scratch or coming up with a whole new concept in men’s belts. Each product is brought to life in leathers and woods, brass and other materials with careful, detailed handwork.
My hope is that all Col. Littleton products have staying power, become special items to their owners and eventually become family heirlooms.
Col. Littleton’s General Office and Works are located in Lynnville, Tennessee – about an hour’s drive south of Nashville in the heart of downtown Lynnville. If you’re ever in our part of the country, Stop By And See Us.