Story and photo by Will Geier
Connor Curran and Dustin Paisley, co-owners and creators of Local Laundry, spent a freezing cold evening on Dec. 21 donating 200 toques and 20 other pieces of clothing to the Calgary Drop-In Centre. It’s a night that makes you thankful if you have a roof over your head – and life threatening if you don’t.
It’s all in a day’s work for these two driven entrepreneurs.
The toques have been donated as part of Curran and Paisley’s Local Collection – a collection that is 100 per cent Canadian-made with each piece having a unique social purpose behind it. Local Laundry’s first campaign was the Giving Toque. The initiative being: for every toque purchased, another would be donated to a homeless organization. The company ended up donating over 550 Canadian-made toques across the country.
“When we first started, the whole notion was that 10 per cent of all of our profits would go back to local charities,” explains Paisley. “But as we grew and kept building a brand, we were looking for ways to do more than just give money.
“The local collection is that: tangible.”
Local Laundry is best known for their simple, yet iconic, YYC t-shirt design. The logo has become recognizable as people have been drawn to their brand’s values of community.
“It’s [about] that pride people have of Calgary and of Canada and showcasing that,” says Paisley.
Funnily enough, the well-known YYC shirt design was actually an afterthought.
“I originally wanted all of the designs to be on the different Canadian communities and we came up with some wacky designs,” jokes Curran. “Neither of us were that great of designers, but we had come up with this YYC design. When Dustin and I got together, he added those little mountains to it and that’s where it really took off.”
The response they got from the design was staggering.
“I knew people would like it, but I don’t think we expected it to take off in the way that it did,” muses Paisley.
The duo hope to keep the momentum going and will continue to grow their brand and community-building plans.
“We’ve doubled in size since conception and we want to do it again next year,” proudly states Curran. “The goals, the plans, and the ideas keep getting bigger and bigger.”
They have ambitious plans that extend beyond Calgary. Local Laundry looks to one day be found all over Canada. Their reach has also grown through their ingenious use of their social media accounts to advertise other people’s stories. The people chosen are not always local but are usually community leaders in their own ways.
“We want to be able to build community in every city, town and community in Canada,” exclaims Curran. “Not just the big major cities but the small cities – the towns – we want to have that impact wherever we go.
“The goal is to replicate what we’ve done here in Calgary and take it to a ton of other communities.”
Love of their community is what first brought these two business partners together.
“I love this city and I wanted to sink my teeth into something where we can build a community,” reveals Paisley.
Local Laundry’s values even extend to their choice of production partners as their production house in Toronto was carefully chosen with their ‘community-first’ brand in mind.
“Quality is one of the top things we always want to focus on,” boasts Paisley. “We did quite a bit of sampling to make sure we got the piece right. We will sacrifice profit to make sure that we have good quality product.”
Sacrificing profit for quality and wearing their city on their backs, Local Laundry is an excitingly refreshing clothing company – one that is driven by the people who buy their clothes with a purpose.
“The brand has never been about us,” admits Paisley. “It was never about us getting rich; it’s all about building community. That’s how it’s always been and [that’s] something I hope we never lose.”
It’s an inspiring business model that will soon be taken all over Canada and it all started from a design that went further than even the creators originally imagined.
“It’s really just one giant experiment: can we create a t-shirt company that builds community?” laughs Paisley.