When I was little, there was this little concrete platform that was in the corner of my front yard.
I have no idea what it’s actual purpose was, but in my idealistic, seven-year-old brain, it was a stage. Almost every day, I would march outside, step up onto my “stage” and sing my little heart out, imagining I was singing to a enormous, adoring crowd. My dream at the time? Only to become a famous singer.
Years passed, and I never told anyone about my first real “passion”. Never pursued it, never tried to get my mom to enroll me in singing lessons, and slowly, my yearning began to fade.
To this day however, watching musician’s perform on stage ignites a baby fire in my belly. I sense their passion, and I always give myself a little mental kick for never having the courage to try something that cultivated such ardor within my soul.
a long time ago I promised myself that if I ever coveted something ever again, I wouldn’t let it pass me by. I wouldn’t just fantasize about it endlessly, webs of daydreams paralyzing my ability to take action. The next time I had a dream, I would take action.
But, as we all know, following a dream is so much easier said than done.
How much more simple is it to walk along the path beaten by society? On the path more often travelled, there is so much more company, less surprises, and much more comfort in the normalcy of the status quo.
Connor Curran, co-founder of Local Laundry, a community-focused clothing company based in Calgary, initially thought he was content to march through life on that path. I’ve been a fan of the line for over a year (I really got my money’s worth from my maroon Local Crew last winter), and was super pumped when I got the chance to do an interview with him and find out the “why” behind a company that has been exceedingly accepted and loved by the YYC community in the three years since its inception.
“When I was growing up, my parents owned a pub, and I would always see the oil and gas guys come in, with their nice suits and expense accounts, and I thought that was so cool, that that was exactly what I wanted out of life.”
So, Connor did what he was supposed to do. He went to university. He studied hard, brought home awesome grades, and emerged from post-secondary clutching a shiny new degree and with oil-barrel-money-signs in his eyes. He was ready to take on downtown Calgary.
What he found? That no one cared. No one cared about his “perfect” resume or his amazing university transcripts. However, eventually, Connor secured a job in the field he thought was meant for.
For two years, Connor toughed it out at a job he eventually had to admit to himself that he hated.
“What was missing, was the human connection. I love people, I love to chat, and I was bummed when reality set in and realized those things were not going to be a huge part of my future if I stayed where I was.”
So, in 2014, Connor hung up his oil and gas hat and went to Sweden in the pursuit of his MBA, and hopefully, a little more direction as to what path he was meant to be on.
“Right away, I noticed a trend of community-based brands, of community-based lifestyle. I remembered thinking to myself, why doesn’t Calgary have that kind of community pride?”
Connor’s next step was to do what any good Millennial would do: Google-searched “how to start a t-shirt company”, watched a few YouTube videos, and got to work putting his newly-hatched plan into action.
Key word? Action. Connor wasted no time mulling over the “what ifs” or obsessing over every detail that could potentially go wrong. Connor got to work, and went after his newly uncovered dream.
“I knew right away that I wanted to use it as a tool for charity. I wanted to create that sense of community pride, but I also wanted to give back, in whatever way I could. Classic Millennial thinking – I didn’t want to just do a job to do it, I wanted to do a job that was going to make a difference. ”
Arriving back in Canada in 2015, Connor was introduced to Dustin Paisley, who would become his “numbers guy” business partner.
“I like to tell people we really did date before we got married, because I didn’t know him prior to this. Dustin and I as partners just works, because we are both always trying to out-perform each other and we both have the same goal: to grow the company.”
After a whirlwind two years, Local Laundry is thriving and Connor is happy with the company’s progress, making it his full—time gig this past July.
“I’m just glad with where it’s at, and it’s crazy to think that it started with a Google search, and me just shutting up and doing it. I wasn’t afraid to ask the dumb questions, I’m not afraid of looking like an idiot, I just want to get the answers I need to be able to keep this business on the right track. And really, it goes go back to community. I know we have the ability to give back, I know we can help each other, I know we can make the world better.”
I was a fan of Local Laundry prior to my discussion with Connor, but after speaking with him, my stream of loyalty deepened. The passion for community and for giving back that pulsed through Connors every word was palpable, and his energy was infectious.
In line with its goal of making a difference in the community, and donating $1 million to local charities across Canada, Local Laundry has recently launched a new campaign: The Giving Toque and new Local Crews. The two items, both made 100% in Canada and which were launched in early October, each serve a specific purpose. With every purchase of The Giving Toque, Local Laundry will give a toque to a homeless foundation in Calgary, while the new Local Crews are meant to raise awareness on the importance of making clothing product in our own Canadian backyard.
One more thing? Ten percent of revenue from every single Local Laundry sale is donated to various charities and initiatives across Canada; these guys aren’t just fair-weathered Christmastime philanthropists, they are in the giving spirit all year round.
Getting off my call with Connor, I was reminded of the importance of taking control of your dreams in this age of entitlement. No one handed Connor and Dustin this company on a silver platter – they flogged their own path, sprinkling it with instances of giving back every step of the way. Getting off my call with Connor, I felt damn good about my generation. Pride surged through my veins, knowing that, although Millennials have been called dozens of four-lettered names, it cant be argued that we certainly do have S-O-U-L in spades, too.
Learn more about the Giving Toque, or get your own here: Local Laundry
And, check them out on Instagram: @locallaundry