Anthony Robinson, owner of Ant Rob Apparel, started his clothing business out of his Jackson home in 2002 out of a desire to help inspire people through positive messages, something he says he hadn't seen enough of in local apparel stores. "I wanted to be able to motivate people with something I produced myself, and I figured clothing would be the best way to do it," Robinson says.
Robinson, 38, moved to Jackson from Vicksburg with his mother, Sharon, when he was 8 years old. He attended Jim Hill High School and went on to Jackson State University but didn't graduate. He applied for a job at the East River YMCA on Interstate 55 in 1999. While working the front desk, Robinson got the chance to observe the many styles of clothing locals wore, which inspired him to start working on his own clothing line in his spare time. He launched Ant Rob Apparel in 2002.
Robinson's clothing line, which he sells through his website, antrobapparel.com, Facebook page and through Gordon's Urbanware, features phrases such as "TRAP," which Robinson says stand for "Take Risks and Produce," and "Jacktown, We All That We Got."
"TRAP means to go outside the box, do what others might not think of doing and take a chance on life," Robinson says. "The Jacktown message means that we need to be able to count on ourselves before we can count on anyone else."
As part of his community-building message, Robinson has organized several charity events in Battlefield Park over the past seven years. One such event, Back to School Day at the Park, offers free haircuts for Jackson Public Schools students and others in need and back-to-school supplies for the students. Robinson also organized Helping Hand of Santa, a Christmas event which provides clothing and shoes for homeless people in Jackson.
For this year's Helping Hand of Santa event, which was Dec. 14, Robinson and Mista Maine, host of local hip-hop radio station 97.7 WRBJ, camped out in Poindexter Park until 5 a.m. to collect donations of food, winter coats, socks and other essentials.
"I started Helping Hand of Santa because I wanted to help the people truly in need, people who either aren't visible or who maybe don't want people to know their situation," Robinson says. "There are a lot of people like that around Jackson, who are silent and fall between the cracks."
Robinson has five children: Jordan Huff, Anthony Guthrie, Ailani Guthrie, Dominic French and Aubaney Weathersby.