James Perry / The Cordwainer
Hometown: Greenville, TN
James Perry began working with leather in 1969 while still a student at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. After college, he moved to Knoxville, TN and opened a leather good retail outlet at the University of Tennessee. He met his wife, Rombye, in Knoxville and she came on board the business. Within a few years, they quit retail to concentrate on selling at arts and crafts shows along the East coast.
Over the years, the Perrys have enjoyed the face to face interaction with thousands of customers who they’ve come to think of as friends. Each Cordwainer leather purse or piece of luggage is hand stitched by one of the Perry family. Their two grown daughters work on the business with marketing and crafting tasks.
In addition to making handcrafted leatherwork, the Perrys raised 80 cattle on their Greene County, TN farm. Jim was a high school and county swim coach while his daughters were in school.