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University of Sanibel clothing turning heads

By Staff | Feb 11, 2015

The University of Sanibel logo has already generated much talk about the clothing line offered by Ann Runyon and Curt Will. BRIAN WIERIMA

Enrollment numbers are skyrocketing at the University of Sanibel, even though the majority of “students” don’t even know they have attended.

It’s one of the easiest Universities to qualify for, as well, and now thanks to Sanibel’s Ann Runyon and Curt Will, people can show their U of S pride.

So, is their a baffled look on your face, yet, wondering where this University of Sanibel is located?

Sorry, but there isn’t a real University of Sanibel, but for Runyon and Will, their clothing line celebrates what the island provides under the guise of the name.

“Most anybody who has attended college, they have taken a variety of classes,” Runyon said. “Our concept and mission is to spread the word and that Sanibel is a big outdoor class. Sanibel is so enriching with all the activities such as boating, shelling, biking or an array of activities here.

Curt Will and Ann Runyon have kicked off their University of Sanibel Products line. BRIAN WIERIMA

“Part of our mission is to build a sense of community. If you are here for any amount of time, you are part of the tradition and many people come back each year. We wanted to cultivate that sense of tradition and belonging.”

The duo from Colorado came up with the concept of the University of Sanibel and they market their clothing like a real college works. They have their official mascot, which is the Fighting Conch, and own their original trademarked logo.

Runyon and Will wanted to keep their business unique, since there are literally thousands of different kinds of T-shirts and clothing sold on the island.

For one, the University of Sanibel apparel is sold at select retailers, which include H2O Outfitters in the Jerry’s Shopping Center; Paradise of Sanibel in Periwinkle Place; The Sporty Seahorse Shop at 362 Periwinkle Way and at S.S. Hookers Restaurant which is located right off the entrance of the Sanibel Causeway.

To be enrolled in the University of Sanibel, an individual has to just visit one of the listed popular attractions the island has to offer, including – but not limited to – visiting the Lighthouse Pier, search for the perfect shell, toured the Shell Museum, visited Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge, biked one of the many paths, golfed on the island, stopped for a turtle or watched the sunset with sand in your shoes.

Ann Runyon and Curt Will have featured the famous Sanibel Lighthouse on their clothing line. BRIAN WIERIMA

After enrollment, the “student” can show off their University pride by wearing one of the three clothing series created by Runyon and Will.

There are three series offered, including the signature, classic and standard.

The signature series features the many attractions on Sanibel offered to “students” and include women’s V-neck T-Shirts and men’s T-shirts. The Standard series has a texting message on the back of the T-shirts, which typifies the modern day college student. A crew neck sweat shirt and uni-sex T-shirts are available.

The Classic series features women’s V-Neck polo tops and men’s regular polo shirts. There is also a uni-sex zip-up hoodie available for those frigid Florida evenings. There are also different types of shorts available, as well as Shell Team hats.

All clothes are embroidered with the University of Sanibel logo.

The clothing line is an island-owned business, run by Runyon and Will. They don’t have any inventory, except what is on the stores’ shelves. They will not have a ribbon-cutting ceremony to open their new business, which has no brick and mortar building, but instead donate the money saved to a non-profit organization on the island.

“We want to help make the retailers more successful, so we don’t sell any of the clothing on-line,” Will said. “We don’t want to be competing against them. We wanted to create a buzz in a fun way.”

Runyon added it’s been a fun trek, thus far.

“We wanted to have fun and create a little energy,” Runyon said. “Retailers on the island are inundated with thousands of tourists. So we want to give the visitors a sense of belonging and get a little energy going.”

The University even has its own “sports teams”, which included the “Fishing Team”, which is sponsored by S.S. Hookers. There are other possible teams in the making, such as the Shelling Team and Kayaking Team.

Will even created the Southwestern Florida Island Football Conference. The University of Sanibel Fighting Conch squad is coached by Bill Osprey, and finished with a perfect 7-0 record. Will had write-ups each week on Facebook, with teams including Periwinkle Pirates, Bayou Bobcats, Cause-Way Cougars, Fishing Pier Panthers, Marine Mollusks, Outer Bank Otters, Lighthouse Legends, Tarpon Bay Tigers and the Middle Gulf Gators.

Styles of clothing can be found at the University of Sanibel website at www.universityofsanibel.com.

So come and join one of the easiest and most enjoyable universities in the nation and don’t forget to show your pride as a proud student or alumni of the University of Sanibel.