“I wanted to represent Calgary. I wanted to show how proud I am of Calgary while I’m travelling around Europe.”
People love to rep where they’re from or where they live. Plenty of apparel gets sold daily emblazoned with our nation's name, the name of our province or our city. Anyone can find a Calgary t-shirt in the airport gift shop or bargain bin with a corny, postcard-esque picture of the Saddledome or Tower on it. Of course, the font on the shirt is some unimaginative variation of Comic Sans, the fabric colour is bright red and it’s cheaply manufactured. Not only does this shirt look and feel bad (and will shrink) but it doesn’t do much good for the community either. However, with the founding of Local Laundry Apparel, there’s an option to represent Calgary that you can feel good about wearing and buying while looking great doing so.
Connor Curran at Local Laundry Apparel has defined the meaning of community apparel in Calgary. Not only is his company creating beautiful apparel to rep our fantastic city but he’s even gone hyperlocal and produced designs with the help of local artists for nearly all the communities within Calgary (excluding Capitol Hill, can you please get on that?). You can feel good about purchasing Local Laundry Apparel because unlike that heavy cotton tee that was manufactured in conditions with no regard for human safety, Local Laundry sources it’s clothing from American Apparel, which has the highest working standards in the textile industry. On top of that, 10% of profits from Local Laundry Apparel go straight to a local charity of your choice based in Calgary. When purchasing from Local Laundry, you directly benefit our community both financially and through awareness all while you looking great and stylish in the process.
"When I see a picture of someone on social media, a total stranger, wearing Local Laundry it feels great to have connected a brand with them. To me, if I never sold another shirt, I’d still be the richest man in the world, rich in fulfillment, for having achieved what we did."
Besides all the above reasons to support Local Laundry, one thing that really struck us during the interview was how Connor feels about the brand and why he does what he does. He is truly passionate about promoting community and strives to connect his brand with Calgarians. A born and raised Calgarian, Connor got the idea for Local Laundry Apparel while working towards his MBA in Sweden. He wanted to show how proud he was of Calgary when travelling around Sweden and Europe. He knew we needed something for the West and it had to be original and appeal to Calgarians. By focusing exclusively on Calgary and it’s communities, that’s how Local Laundry was born.
We did a mini interview with Connor and some of the answers that were not mentioned above are transcribed below for your reading leisure as part of our Entrepreneurial Endeavours initiative. We fully support companies like Local Laundry that come out of the woodwork when the city is faced with a recession and low oil prices. This push from private industry and entrepreneurs helps to diversify our economy and grow our community in a city that has historically been focused on oil and gas.
If you have an awesome product or service and would like to meet QuadRipple to be featured in our Entrepreneurial Endeavours blog, let us know.
[QuadRipple]: Why did you start Local Laundry?
[Connor]: April 4th, 2015 was when I got the idea. I was running a marathon in Greece. Then, I launched officially April 27th, 2015 from Sweden. I realized all the things I missed when I was there, and all the things that made Calgary so great. I was thinking about all the different communities as well. It’s when you’re exposed to a culture of the opposite that you start to realize you miss what you’ve always had where you grew up. You realize you value so much what makes your home great. With the economic downturn, Calgary is going through an economic rebranding if you will. Calgary can’t just be an oil town, it’s gotta be more.
[QuadRipple]: Why as hyperlocal as each individual community?
[Connor]: Because each community has a certain characteristic, people are so proud to be from a specific community. Every person thinks their community in Calgary is the best, there was no way to rep this community pride.
[QuadRipple]: What was your first step in business?
[Connor]: I googled how to make a T-shirt company and just figured stuff out. When not able to really find something I needed, I just used the guess and check method!
[QuadRipple]: Are you working on Local Laundry full time?
[Connor]: We don’t make enough to make it our full-time gig yet, but the dream is to do so one day. We make enough to cover our expenses and manage our cashflows. I’m currently working at Benevity, a company which develops software that manages workplace charitable giving programs. It’s a great company with similar values to Local Laundry. Dustin works for MRU at the amazing student entrepreneur program, Enactus.
[QuadRipple]: Are you the sole partner in Local Laundry?
[Connor]: No, my other partner is Dustin and he is the greatest guy as a business partner. We met for coffee when he approached me in November.
[QuadRipple]: What makes Dustin so great?
[Connor]: It’s important to have different skills in a business partner but you need to have similar values or you are going to clash. Everything I needed in a partner, he provides. As soon as we got hats they exploded. We didn’t want to keep inventory so we started with small amounts but they quickly vanished. At this point, then stores started approaching us.
[QuadRipple]: What stores are you in?
[QuadRipple]: Why do you commit to charity?
[Connor]: I have an honours degree in business management and leadership studies and my thesis was all about corporate social responsibility and how CSR affects a company's bottom line. People are moving away from big corporations and the big brands names that don't align with their set of values. People want to buy a brand that represents who they are.
[QuadRipple]: What charities do you support?
[Connor]: We rotate the charities if you do not specify when ordering apparel. Some examples include the Calgary Drop In Center CLIC Program, Calgary Food Bank, Calgary Women's Emergency Shelter, Kids Up Front and of course the Canadian Red Cross Disaster Relief after the recent Fort Mac Wildfires.
[QuadRipple]: Future plans for Local Laundry?
[Connor]: My dream to is bring everything local, not just the branding. I want the production to be local and to engage more of the communities for design help. We are open to Calgary textile manufacturers and if I had the choice I would print it on local high quality clothing if possible.