(This article first appeared in the October 18, 2017 issue of The Independent Newspaper)
Island Strong All Day Long. More than a phrase or t-shirt, it’s actually the company motto of Island Strong, an online merchandise store that began selling products in 2015. Terrance Saporito, CEO and founder of the company, designed the popular logo during his college humor t-shirt business days; a filled-in outline of Long Island with the word “STRONG” boldly in the middle. However, it was his wife, Erica, who came up with the name Island Strong as a tribute to strengthen the community.
Saporito and partner, Brian Jones, who handles ecommerce and shipping, are Island natives that have been friends for almost two decades after first meeting in school at Connetquot. As business ideas were flowing, Saporito and Jones were introduced to local celebrity and UFC fighter Chris Wade, who is a jack-of-all-trades helping wherever possible.
“Chris’s ideas and goals aligned with ours so well it was a no-brainer. And just last year my long time mentor Al Carrabis joined us,” Saporito said. “Al is a very established business man who currently lives in Blue Point. He corralled us three in and started turning Island Strong into a well-oiled machine. All of our friends and family have been so supportive and we really have built one huge family.”
In particular, Saporito pointed to the wonder women behind the business, Erica and Jones’s girlfriend, Mallory.
Two new lines of hats and beanies with the Island Strong and LOCAL designs are expected to come out later this month, as new creations pop up several times a year. Saporito primarily constructs everything himself, with the exception of a few fan creations that are submitted. In trying to keep with the idea of “shop local,” Royal Apparel in Hauppauge sources some of the clothing, with much of it coming from within the United States. Currently, they are using East End Emblem in Ronkonkoma for their prints.
Fan favorite designs include the signature Island Strong logo, the Long Island mermaid, and the LOCAL logo. “The LOCAL logo is very simple but I feel it can be worn by any Long Islander. We have plans to expand further on this design,” Saporito acknowledged. As for who can be seen wearing it,
“It is astonishing how many orders we get from out of state. When they leave Long Island, everyone wants to take a piece with them.”
Island Strong works with local charities on a consistent basis. With aims to better the community, they’re currently working with Room4Love, Boots on the Ground NY, and Save the Great South Bay, but the charities occasionally rotate. At this time the company directs all donations to Island Harvest with an awareness that this is the “most crucial time for Long Islanders in need.”
Yet, it’s Peconic Land Trust that hits home and is always in their hearts. “My mother Carol Isles who is on the board of directors for LINLA (Long Island Nursery & Landscape Association) and LIFB (Long Island Farm Bureau) mentioned Peconic Land Trust to me and we fell in love with what they represent and their goals for Long Island,” Saporito said. All of this led to the creation of the Loyal to the Soil logo.
Now fans of Loyal to the Soil can sip beer while wearing their favorite shirt. Being released later this fall is a new Loyal to the Soil wheat beer in collaboration with Jamesport Farm Brewery. Saporito expressed his excitement. “Them being a farm brewery and growing 90 percent of their own ingredients, it’s only fitting. Myself and Brian love Long Island craft beer, so this is a dream come true.”
Beyond giving back, “my appreciation for Long Island goes much deeper,” said Saporito. “I’ve met so many incredible people over the last two years. I’ve realized that our communities are what make Long Island so unique. The friends we’ve made along this journey make Long Island so special to us,” Saporito passionately expressed.
“We’re inspired greatly by towns like Greenport and Sayville. We spend a lot of time there because of the hometown feel you get when you’re walking the street or talking to shop owners. Not to say that other towns don’t have that, it’s just where we are right now. I grew up going to beautiful places like the Arboretum and especially love the Vanderbilt Museum in Centerport. We’re lucky to be close to so many incredible places. People around the country don’t have that luxury and I think we take it for granted.”
Island Strong emphasizes that their company buildup has been in large part through Instagram. Dozens of local photographers tag the account in an almost symbiotic relationship to spread brand awareness. Island Strong can also be found at local festivals where people can meet the team behind their favorite social media posts. “No social media platform will get your message across better than a conversation,” Saporito said.
In addition to selling merchandise online and in a select variety of small businesses, including Riverhead’s Taste the East End Boutique, Island Strong will be opening their first brick-and-mortar location in summer of 2018, filled with a plethora of Long Island products.
Want to go Island Strong All Day Long? Follow them on Instagram and Facebook @LIslandStrong or purchase your very own gear at http://www.lislandstrong.com.