From Local Idea to National Movement: The Story of Local Laundry and Their Quest to Make a Lasting Impact

If you’ve been watching TV lately, you may have seen our two founders Connor and Dustin appear on the big screen. Or perhaps you’ve filled your car up at Petro Canada and noticed those little posters above the pumps. Thanks to the Petro Canada Live by the Leaf campaign, we’re kinda famous.

Here’s our side of the story. 

In 2015, the idea for Local Laundry was born. Founder, Connor Curran was studying in Sweden for his MBA when he realized that there were no local clothing options for Calgary, which is where he lived. Sure there were companies based out of Calgary, but none that truly celebrated Calgary for the incredible city that it was. Craft beer was on the rise, farm to table was becoming a thing, but other than cartoon moose tourist junk, there was nothing that proudly represented Calgarians through clothing.

This is where the idea for Local Laundry was born. Armed with the internet and $50 in spending money, Connor Google searched “how to start a t-shirt company” which then lead to a YouTube video going over every step to starting an online t-shirt business. 3 hours and $50 later, Connor had officially launched Local Laundry.

The premise was simple. Proudly represent your city, and its communities while giving back. 10% of all profits would go back to local charities.

Connor moved back to Calgary and started working at a tech company, while still working on Local Laundry in the evenings and on weekends. Shortly after returning home, Connor was introduced to Dustin through a mutual friend. The two met, as complete strangers on a blind date at a coffee shop over Chai Lattes to discuss the business. Dustin had previously worked for a promotional company, studied business and entrepreneurship in University and had even started a design company of his own in University. Armed with the knowledge of how to decorate, source and create products, Dustin was eager to lend a hand. With a love for Calgary, and a passion for mission driven entrepreneurship, he loved the notion of donating 10% of profits back to local charities. The pair agreed to “date” for 3 months as a trial to see if this whole partnership would work out. As they say, the rest is history.

While Connor continued to work at a tech company, and Dustin maintained his job at a bank, they both worked in the evenings and on weekends to help grow the business. They attended markets, learned what it meant to sell wholesale, and figured it out as they went. They continued to donate to charities around the city and doubled down on their impact.

However, the more they learned about the garment industry, the more they struggled with their product. While it was important to them to ensure all of their suppliers were operating within fair business practices, all of their sweaters and t-shirts just continued to show up in boxes with no information of how it was made, or by whom, and what the conditions truly were like. They knew they needed to make a change to ensure their products were made to a high degree of quality that would cut down on waste, and that their products were made in safe factory conditions using environmentally friendly practices.

Which is why in 2018, they made the decision to onshore ALL of their manufacturing. They would no longer make their hats in China, t-shirts in Mexico, and sweaters and hoodies in Pakistan. Every single garment would be high quality and responsibly made in Canada.

Something incredible happened. The defect rate dropped to near zero and the founders actually got to walk through the factories that were making their clothes, which were often 2nd or 3rd generation family run businesses. There became an instant connection with the clothes that were being made. The clothes were now the highest quality they had ever been with eco-friendly fabrics. The future of the company was clear - to make as big of an impact as possible.

From that moment forward, all efforts were made to double down on the impact. This inspired The Giving Garments program, which is a buy one give one model for toques, socks and blankets, which are all amongst the most in demand items for shelters across Canada. Since inception of the program, over 8,500 items have been donated.

This also inspired the goal of donating $1,000,000 to local charities by 2030, of which the company is over 15% of the way there, having raised over $175,000. The mission was locked in. All the company needed was a channel to share its story. Utilizing platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, and LinkedIn Local Laundry and its founders shared their story again, and again, and again in hopes of reaching more customers who cared about giving back and supporting mission driven businesses.

So when the call came in from Petro Canada, who was looking to share stories from Canadians about what it meant to live by the lead, Connor and Dustin knew it was their time to shine. After recording a quick intro video, followed by a virtual meet and greet with the team, Connor and Dustin were beyond thrilled to learn that they were selected to be featured in the campaign. It was a dream come true to share their story to Canada about the importance of Canadian-made products that are built to last.

Not only were they featured as part of their campaign, but Petro Canada chose to support the Local Laundry custom program, which creates custom Canadian clothing for businesses and corporation. Supplied with high quality Live by the Leaf Canadian-made toques, the campaign was ready to roll out.

The only part of the story left is what happens next. How does the company reach its goal of donating $1,000,000 to local charities by 2030? How do they continue to expand across the country and encourage Canadians to support companies and products that are locally made, which contribute to a diverse Canadian manufacturing industry, all while giving back?

The truth is, the answer is not clear. But there is one thing the two know for sure, and that is the fact that doing the right thing in business is not always the easiest thing to do, but when you want to build a company that will last 100 years, making products that have an impact on the local community while contributing to a better planet it’s all worth it in the long run.

This is still very much the start of the story of Local Laundry and it’s incredible to see you a part of it.