“I love going from a rough sketch to the finished piece and seeing the final product,” she says.
While working a stressful job as a controller and human resources manager for a manufacturing facility, she taught herself how to sew, print, and hand-stitch materials like leather and canvas and make them into totes and bags.
“It was definitely an escape and a chance to switch from crunching numbers to creating,” says Tori, who still lives on the midcoast. “Sewing and painting just really helped me decompress, clear my head and find some balance.”
In 2014, Tori launched Maine Bags & Goods from her home studio, and today she gets orders from as far as California. Her collection is developed to withstand the rigors of Maine’s harsh climate. She uses materials like waxed canvas, which repels water, and brass hardware, which adds both strength and functionality. Her signature Skinny Dippers bags have hand-printed nautical designs on the outside, with an inner lining of water-repellant dacron — perfect for a day at the beach.
Tori devotes nights and weekends to the business, and rises at 3 a.m. on a regular basis to work on orders before heading to her accounting job at Down East Enterprises. She keeps sketchbooks around the house to capture ideas for new designs. She loves having a creative outlet, inspired by the natural beauty of Maine’s coast.
“Being able to capture just a bit of that,” she says, “and create a piece that someone is thrilled to carry is always exciting to me.”