Local Laundry is Canadian made clothing specializing in well crafted garments that make you feel good and look good from the inside out. Our mission is to donate a million dollars to Canadian charities by 2030!
Tell us about yourself?
My name is Connor Curran, and I’m one of the co-owners of Local Laundry. We’re Canadian-made garments for social good. We’re determined to make the most socially conscious and most comfortable garments possible. We make garments that make you look good and feel good.
The core of our clothing is crewneck sweaters, hoodies, t-shirts, hats, toques and socks. We utilize eco-friendly fibres and produce everything entirely here in Canada. My business partner, Dustin Paisley and I founded Local Laundry in Calgary, Alberta initially with our YYC Collection, our claim to fame. Over five years since our inception, our collections now include the CAN Collection, Local Collection and Giving Garments Collection.
Our customers are people who want to make their laundry local and build a community.
We sell mainly on our online store and create custom garments for organizations looking to source more sustainably and want to design clothing for their team that they want to wear rather than ending up in their pyjama pile.
It all started when I picked a fight with a laundry machine. I lost the fight but had an aha moment in the scuffle: What if all of our laundry was local? Like really, genuinely local? And from the ashes of that fight, Local Laundry rose. Today, we’re headquartered in Calgary and proudly Canadian, from our manufacturers and garments to our employees and customers. But the clothes are just the beginning: Our community is the heart of our story.
I had zero experience in clothing, e-commerce or fashion. I just had an idea, so I did what all people with a view do. I Googled it and watched a YouTube video on how to do it. From there, I became obsessed with seeing how big of an impact we could create with clothing.
We started by trying to sell to just one person and going from there. I worked on the business part-time for two and a half years, not paying myself, and putting all the money back into the company.
If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
Just start it. Don’t overthink it. Don’t wait for the perfect time. Don’t wait until you have the perfect business idea or plan. Just start.
Don’t spend money or raise money before you start. Try to start with spending the least amount of money or no money at all. Money can be devastating to businesses just starting because any problems you encounter, you can just throw money at it, but it won’t solve the problem.
Find a good business partner who has the opposite skills to you. Invest in that relationship, make sure you have the same goals and vision. Don’t let ego kill your partnership or business.
What problem does your business solve?
We manufacture Canadian made clothing. We kept asking how come no clothing company knew of what manufacturing their garments here in Canada.
After some research, we found out that before 1989, over 70% of all clothing bought and sold in Canada was made in Canada. Fast forward to 2015, and now less than 5% of all clothing is made here in Canada. We were determined to reverse that trend.
When you produce here in Canada, it is more expensive but for good reasons. They are made by Canadians who are being paid a livable wage, work in a safe working environment, have health benefits and are adhering to strict Canadian labour and environmental laws. It turns out when employees are taken care of; they produce a better garment. When you create a better garment, it will last longer, making sure it stays out of landfills longer.
What is the inspiration behind your business?
Local Laundry was first inspired by giving Calgarians a way to represent where they come from, in our case – YYC! The YYC design was our claim to fame, Local Laundry was one of the startup brands that took Calgarian pride and put it on a t-shirt 🙂
What is your magic sauce?
We want to use our garments as vehicles in order to donate a million dollars to Canadian charities by 2030. Local Laundry garments are cozy, sustainable and most importantly work to give back and build community!
What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?
Today we have four employees working full-time. We sell our garments to people across Canada and beyond.
We get the chance to work with exceptional individuals and organizations who share the same values and vision for a better community as we do.
We will be one of Canada’s top clothing brands and the most socially conscious clothing company in our space.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
We self-financed the entire business from day 1; we’ve never taken investment or long-term debt. Instead, we built a company that was profitable and could support its growth. We never want to lose sleep about how we will pay the bills or try to keep our investors happy.
The biggest lesson when starting a business is just to start. It doesn’t have to be perfect or have lots of money spent on it. It just has to be. It has to exist for it to grow.
How do people get involved/buy into your vision?
one of your customers. Personally hand deliver, write notes, even call them. Growing a business takes time, and you can’t do it without the community’s support and customers. Invest in building those relationships rather than spending money solely on digital ads that line the pockets of tech giants.
Give back to the community, volunteer, donate to charities, work with other small businesses to learn and connect with others.
How do you bring customers back? Treat them like real people. If they email you, talk like a person and not a corporate drone. If you made a mistake and a customer is upset, make it right. Go above and beyond. Blow all expectations away. Be so good that they go out and tell ten people about your business right away.
In a world that revolves around transactional relationships, be different and be good to everyone your business interacts with, from customers to retailers, strategic partners to manufacturers, your accountant, team members, etc. Remember birthdays, acknowledge life goals or achievements, show your support when they need a helping hand. Sometimes even saying thank you can have a monumental impact.
Understand the value of compound interest. Nothing happens overnight. Things take time. It can take years and years or even decades for your vision to come to life. Take your time, enjoy the ride.