Back in 2015, Connor Curran, the founder and co-owner of Local Laundry – a local online apparel store dedicated to representing Canada and Canadian manufacturing – didn’t have any experience in the fashion industry. But a drive to represent YYC and give back to the community helped him turn it into the successful business it is now.
Curran was laid off from his job as a subcontract specialist in 2014. This prompted him to move to Sweden with his wife, where he received an MBA at the University of Gavle. Although he was halfway across the world, he could not get Calgary out of his mind.
“It was there that I really, really solidified my connection to Calgary and why I love Calgary so much,” he said. “Calgary just has that community, that resilience and it’s a place where anything that you want you could have.”
With that in mind, he started Local Laundry online in Sweden, even though he didn’t know the first thing about clothing, fashion or even how to build a website.
“I just had this passion for building a community, wanting to represent where I came from.”
Local Laundry is an online apparel store that produces clothing celebrating Canadian communities – most notably hoodies with the letters YYC, three-quarters of an X and a stylized mountain in the fourth quarter.
For Curran, starting his business was not the difficult part.
“All I did was watch a YouTube video. Spent probably about 25, maybe $50, had a website up and running and I definitely had a business,” he said. “The hardest part is getting that company off the ground and getting it going, figuring out what direction you want to take it in, how can you grow it, how can you market it, how you brand it and operate financially and operationally?”
For Curran, that’s where Dustin Paisley, business partner, and co-owner came in. Paisley received his BBA at Mount Royal University and is known as the ‘chief operator’ at Local Laundry.
“I was able to start the business, get it an inch and a half off the ground. Then, my business partner, Dustin came in and he really made us operationally efficient and helped us take the business off the ground,” says Curran.
However, just like any growing business, Local Laundry has had its ups and downs. At first, the company was not making enough money, so Curran had to take a second job.
“It was still growing. So I decided to go work at Benevity in business development. And it was there that I really learned about a B corporation.”
Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance and are committed to public transparency.
Curran learned a lot from Benevity and applied it to his own business, he wanted Local Laundry to be a business that cares about more than just profits. Local Laundry gained popularity on social media and steadily gained loyal customers. It was then that Curran decided to focus all his efforts on the company.
It took a lot of trial and error for Local Laundry to gain that popularity
Curran’s first initial idea was to create clothing that represented the different communities in Calgary, such as Inglewood, Kensington, Acadia, Airdrie, Red Deer and so on. However, those designs did not procure the results that the YYC design did.
“That was the one that really took off and differentiated us from a lot of different clothing companies. That was our first kind of understanding from the community.”
The community design shirts were not popular with the public which gave Curran the idea to commit to customers’ wants.
An example of the role customers play in Local Laundry is through their mission, to donate ten per cent of its monthly profits to a charity. Through this mission, Local Laundry realized that there is no single cause that defines all of their customers, there are tons of various causes that need help and support from the city.
“We couldn’t just only focus on one. So we decided to leave it out to our customers and let’s work with as many charities as we can.”
Curran not only has a goal of donating 1,000,000 dollars to charities across Canada, but he wants to put Canadian manufacturing and Canadian garments at the forefront of people’s minds because he believes by supporting Canadian manufacturers, “You are saying you are voting with your heart and your wallet, that you’re saying I’m only going to support clothing that was made ethically, responsibly, to both the worker and the environment,” which is why Local Laundry’s apparel is priced above average.
Local Laundry decided that they wanted to pay workers a living and stable wage. They wanted to make sure that workers have a safe place to work, they can go home and feed their family, and come into work happy. All these factors apply to how Local Laundry prices their apparel.
“We’re proud that our clothing is going to cost a little bit more because not only are you making it responsibly and ethically but when using Canadian labour, your standards of quality, your quality control is ten times higher than anywhere else”
As a proud supporter of the community, Curran and his team at Local Laundry have created a healthcare zip-up sweater. This sweater highlights healthcare workers, in which 100 per cent of the profit being donated to COVID-19 Relief in order to support the community and its resilient workers during this difficult time.