There is a quote in Shawshank Redemption that I often think about when I think about my career and journey over the last five years with Local Laundry, "And if you've come this far, maybe you're willing to come a little further."
For me, that's a running theme among small businesses; why come all this way just to give up? Connor would say to me year over year as I begged him to hire me full-time, "can you hang on for just a little longer?" To which, I would always say yes, yes I can. One of the biggest learnings, not only within this last year but over five years, is that it's okay to be passionate; it's okay to be passionate about your dreams. It's okay to go after your dreams and let your passion fuel the ride.
Let's dive into it!
Since 2016 I have over involved myself in Local Laundry's business. I was first introduced to the brand by a friend of mine wearing our iconic 'YYC Snapback.' I said, "That's a cool hat!" not knowing what that hat would give me five years down the road, a purpose and a career. Over the last five years, I have been an intern, a contractor, and since May 2020, a full-time employee. It's intrinsic for a small business to say “when we have more of x, we can do y”. I trusted in the process. I knew the best was yet to come, and I began to hold on tight to this rollercoaster ride. I became addicted. Addicted to the magic, the feeling, the essence, the bigger picture, the passion and the dream of what Local Laundry stood for. I became entrenched, nearly obsessed, in all of what Connor and Dustin wanted to achieve with the business. Once you have buy-in, there's no more convincing; you just get it.
When I first started, I pitched Connor to be Local Laundry's writer and manage the blog. Now, he'll tell you this in his own words, but he said to Dustin right after I sent my first email to him, "what the hell do we need a writer for?" Since starting our blog, we have written our own content and featured hundreds of other small businesses, entrepreneurs, influencers, and people. The grassroots of Local Laundry always has been to share stories from the community, and that's just what the blog did. So, Connor, to answer your question of what we need a writer for, I think the proof is in the pudding, haha!
From blogging came learning how to graphic design for our email marketing, working on collaborations & photoshoots to managing markets and executing on go-to-market strategies and campaigns, but it was never enough; I wanted more. To be fair, I begged for more, even pleaded, one might say. I can remember sitting across from Connor, begging him to pull me out of the current position I was working with, only for him to say, "can you hold on a little longer?" And then the pandemic hit. To our surprise, the pandemic was the very catalyst for Dustin & Connor to hire me full time. The day had finally come, all these years later, on my metaphorical lap was a job offer. I almost couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe that I had achieved a dream, achieved a goal, achieved something I put my blood, sweat and tears into. There's something to be said in revelling in our victories. Here's a tip from me to you. Don't shy away from compliments, congratulations', and/or praise; take it, accept it, own it… it's yours. Don't ever put yourself down to make anyone else feel more comfortable.
I did not. I screamed, I shouted, I jumped, I danced… rest assured post meetings. But now the real work begins. The train was-a-running and I better be on board. Despite my first year of full-time employment with Local Laundry being in a pandemic, it's been a year of phenomenal growth, experiences and happiness.
Here are 10 things I've learned throughout the last year:
- Just when I thought I knew a few things, I actually knew nothing. This is not to say that I know nothing, but I've been humbled, challenged and pushed to level up. In the world of marketing, you can indeed never be bored, my fellow MARCOM people will know there is always something to do. I told Connor and Dustin a long time ago that I wanted a seat at the table. With that comes immense responsibility, trust, and many things you don't know; the only difference is I'm willing to learn them.
- Radical transparency. Don't be afraid to share your story. Be vulnerable, ask the hard questions, and face the complex answers. People are much more understanding after you take a deep breath and explain the why behind the decisions.
- Less is more - saying no is okay. For so long at Local Laundry we've always been yes people, every opportunity we've typically always said yes to. Over the past year, we've challenged ourselves as people and as a team to say no and ask the tricky question, what's the point?
- To drive traffic is to be focused, not to be everywhere. This was a hard pill to swallow from a marketing perspective because we're trained to think we need to be everywhere to get the word out. But if I've learned one thing from my childhood it's that, if you build it, people will most definitely come.
- Engage with those who are more intelligent than you or with a different perspective. My opinion is never the best or even the right idea. Have conversations that challenge the status quo.
- Work with a mentor. I've been working with Cam Finlayson from clear motive Marketing, and my only regret is that I wish I would have been introduced to him sooner.
- Give away free advice. People always say to never give away too much or never give information without getting paid for it. The truth is there's more than enough business and space for us all. Maybe this is naive of me, perhaps you even disagree with me, hey, that's okay. In my opinion, we build relationships from advice, and that's really what matters most in this crazy world.
- I will never quite understand TikTok… and I can't dance. I mean, this one speaks for itself.
- You will never be ready. Time is always passing, so you might as well give it a shot. This I learned from Connor. No matter how much thought I put into the strategy, it never was as powerful as throwing an idea against the wall and seeing if it sticks. It's not eloquent, but it's my truth.
- Take time to bask in reflection, find musings between being overwhelmed. I took a lot of deep breaths this year. There's power in decompression.
- And one more for good luck...Connor and Dustin will never honestly know the magnitude of my gratitude for investing in me and taking a chance on a "writer" five years ago.
As I wrap up leaving my heart on my sleeve, I will leave you with this final thought.
If you ever question purchasing from a small business or what the actual impact of supporting Canadian-made products, garments, or services have, I would ask you to think of the people behind the screen, behind the garments behind the business. That one garment employs people like me. Passionate people working to make an impact, create change and pursue their dreams.
We always say that your purchase of a Local Laundry garment empowers the Canadian supply chain, puts money back into the Canadian economy and ethically employs Canadian workers. What you might not know is your purchase employs a dream, a community and garners an essence of something bigger than ourselves. One thing I do know, it's okay to be passionate about sweaters.