Carolyn Tobin founder of Antisewcial can most often be found at home in Torbay sewing up a storm of stylish, sustainable and comfy clothing. While the world is forced to stay inside, she is making the best of an unusual situation and finding herself infront of her sewing machine more than ever before.
“I’d say my work has tripled since the quarantine . There has been a huge shift in how people are shopping. Those that have been set up to work from home selling online and have built their business with a strong social media presence have a running start,” said Tobin. “Contactless pick up, delivery and shipping has been working really well for Antisewcial. It works out really well for my productivity. I know human connection is so important but the small upside is the extra time to produce.”
Tobin started revisiting sewing after moving back to Newfoundland from Vancouver Island four years ago. She recalls moments early in her life sitting at her dining room table watching her mom sew. Their house and wardrobes were adorned in her mother’s handmade creations and her grandmother was also a seamstress.
“When I was little, I remember going to my grandmother’s home and it was a sewer’s dream, she had all the gear. Now that I am older, I wish I could sit with her from time to time soaking up a bit more of her skills and poking through all her notions,” said the seamstress. “I bet she would have had all the answers to my sewing questions that I had to teach myself over the years. I didn’t realize how much I was learning by watching and just being around sewing.”
While Tobin managed to learn from observation, she also picked up “a few swear words” from watching her mother sew, but “she actually kept her sewing potty mouth cleaner than mine.”
Her professional journey with sewing started only a short time ago, after finishing university and following different career paths but nothing gave her the feeling that she had found her calling. When she moved her family back to Newfoundland, she was on maternity leave and the pressure to find another job just for the money subsided long enough for her creativity to start to shine.
“I didn’t set out to start a business but it happened very naturally when I made a commitment to myself to do more things that were just for me. I started off deciding to sew more, knowing that it was something that I enjoyed doing and didn’t make enough time for. It is so easy to get lost in doing what you think you are supposed to do. Especially as a mom. Life gets busy.”
When Tobin made the decision to dedicate more time to sewing, she was all in. She got all the sewing gear, a sewing spaced called Antisewcial and made a Facebook page to post her designs, eventually that lead to a webpage, then an Instagram account and a good friend designed a logo.
“It would seem like I was well aware that I was starting a business but I really didn’t know what I would do with it all. I slowly started to invite family members to my facebook page and close friends. I thought I would just put my sewing projects out there and see what comes of it all. It was pretty much immediately when I started to post items I have been making that people started to inquire about buying them.”
As her business grew, Tobin came to realize that working for others, and doing ordered work with strict deadlines during specified times in the day simply didn’t work for her.
“Even now with Antisewcial if a design feels forced, a social media post feels forced or even a fabric supply purchase, I simply move along to something else that feels more organic. I now have space to bounce back and forth from projects and ideas and follow my gut,” said the entrepreneur. “The end result is something I can look back on and feel good about. I know that everything I have designed and put out there has come from a happy place. I hope that is translating to anyone who is following along on my Antisewcial journey.”
Tobin is specific in the fabrics she chooses, keeping ethically produced knits as a priority for her designs. Using high quality organic and or sustainable and ethically produced fabrics which she sourced online.
“If I can control how my small business will impact the environment and the people who wear it, then that is exactly what I will do. I consider myself a bit of a minimalist and I think that reflects in my designs. I personally do not keep a large wardrobe and the clothing I have get very few breaks,” she explained. “Fabric durability is very important to me. I also love color and I love to put colors together in unexpected ways. I love the clean lines of stripes so I tend to use them a lot in my designs. I’m also drawn to fun quirky prints.”
The creations are simple, yet artistic pieces that are cozy and stylish. Some pullovers come in bright blocks of colour or adjacent tones divided in sleek lines, featuring comfy high necks, known as the pick-me-up neck, which has almost become a signature of Tobin’s design. Antisewcial’s ‘Scruffy’ is head wear made from bamboo fabric for a gentle touch, keeping you warm in the winter but cool in the summer that can also be worn in a variety of ways. However, Tobin’s favourite piece is the ‘Pick Me Up Pullover.’
“There is more than meets the eye with this design and many of my customers call it their “uniform’ because they are very addictive to wear, especially in Newfoundland’s climate. The pick-me-up neck is super long and you don’t see that in the photos. It is designed so you can fold the neck inside to make it as slouchy as you would like. On those super cold days you can pull it up over your face to your eyes,” she said. “I had one of my customers say the neck was an unexpected surprise and it really is. It was the first adult design that I decided to sell and it pushed me beyond just designing children’s clothing.”
Antisewcial offers a range of children’s clothing as well, and the ‘Blow Me Down Hoodie’ is one of Tobin’s favourite memories was designing the piece.
“Definitely when I designed my kids ‘Blow Me Down Hoodie.’ It was the first time I realized that all of the ideas floating around in my head could actually come to life, and even more so that I had the talent to do it! It lit the spark. When the idea of the’ Blow Me Down Hoodie’ came to me I designed it immediately. I didn’t know I had it in me and that it would make me so happy. I was so proud of what I created and I immediately knew that this was my direction.”
All photos were submitted and feature both of Tobin’s boys, Tobin and Liam in Antsewcial’s children’s designs as “they love to wear my clothes and never say no to an opportunity to model for me,” said Tobin.