Hello there, welcome to The Localite Lounge. Today we are talking with Kathleen Smiley, Community Relations Manager at Local Laundry. Kathleen, can you tell me about Local Laundry?

Local Laundry is a Canadian clothing company that strives to build community through everything we do. Our five pillars allow us to build our community by representing where you come from, sharing stories from other like-minded individuals and business owners, collaborating with others who want to have a positive impact, giving back through local charities and producing Canadian made clothing.

In 2015, Connor Curran and Dustin Paisley formed Local Laundry. While completing his masters overseas in Sweden, Connor Curran, now full-time co-owner and operator of Local Laundry, was inspired by using clothing as a vehicle to build community. After meeting Dustin, a graduate from Mount Royal University, majoring in business entrepreneurship, the two became fast friends sharing a common interest in supporting Canadian communities and not-for-profit charities and organizations.  

Cut to 2016, Connor and Dustin were approached by now a second full-time employee, Kathleen Smiley, to run Local Laundry’s blog. Fuelled by grit and ambition, Local Laundry’s blog spurred opportunities for guest blogs, collaborations, new relationships and ultimately aided in Connor and Dustin’s goal of creating impact and building community. Kathleen works as the brand’s Community Relations Manager. The Local Laundry team is accompanied by another part-time contractor, Briare Crawford, who not only built up and attributed to a large percentage of Local Laundry’s social presence but uses digital marketing efforts to finesse and expand Local Laundry’s website and online expression. 

Can you tell me more about what you mean by building community?

Local Laundry isn’t in the business of selling clothing, we’re in the business of building community. At Local Laundry, we produce only Canadian made garments to support Canadian manufacturing, Canadian jobs, a diversified Canadian economy and to reduce our carbon footprint. Local Laundry was founded in 2015 to use clothing to bring people together while creating a positive impact on the community. To date, we have donated more than $50,000 to local charities and we have collaborated with hundreds of other community builders. 

That is so impressive! What initiative are you most proud of?

We’re proud of our recent campaign to support the City of Calgary and United Way’s COVID-19 Relief Fund. Our Bamboo Healthcare Zip-Up was the first garment to go to market as a response to the outbreak of COVID19. The positive feedback from customers was overwhelming. We wanted to use our Canadian-made Bamboo Healthcare Garments as a vehicle so customers could not only purchase a cozy zip-up to enjoy during isolation but to be used to contribute to the United Way COVID19 Relief Fund and show their support to healthcare professionals across Canada. We used our Canadian made garments to support the community, offer a way to give back and keep everyone comfortable during times of uncertainty and hardship.

All profits rendered from sales in March, April and half of May 2020 from the Bamboo Healthcare Garments were being donated to the COVID19 Community Relief Fund put on by The United Way Calgary and The City of Calgary, resulting in $20,000 CAD. Building community goes back to the support of our customers and community builders. Because of their support we were able to give back, create impact and aid in our mission to build community and donate to charities and non-profit organizations. Local Laundry garments may be the vehicle, but our customers and community are the fuel that drives us. 

Local Laundry really got that project off the ground quickly. Do you have any advice for new entrepreneurs?
Stop talking about it and just get started! Local Laundry was born from a simple Google search of “how to start a t-shirt company” which led to an article, and subsequently, a YouTube video. 5 years later, we’re in the position we are in. Every company starts from an idea, and over time, that seed grows. You just have to consistently water it, and find the right partners who help you nurture it along the way. 

Don’t spend too much time or money on building the perfect product or business plan. Get the first version of your vision out to market as fast as possible to start gathering useful market data to help direct your business to where it needs to go. You might think you have a brilliant idea but only the market and those who are spending money on your product or vision will validate your idea. So stop talking and thinking about it, go out there and do it! 

Any new products in the pipeline?
We’re working with some community partners for two new collaboration t-shirt launches set to be released in August. As well as our second collab candle with Milk Jar, Hang Dry, will launch mid-July and our fall lineup following suit in September. One of the garments in our fall lineup is a new generation of hoodie that is set to last the test of time, stay tuned!

Tell me about the awards Local Laundry  founders have received
In May 2019, Startup Canada awarded Connor and Dustin with the Entrepreneur’s Choice Award for the Prairies region. The Startup Canada Awards celebrate those working to advance entrepreneurship in Canada, increase awareness of the importance of strengthening Canada’s entrepreneurship ecosystem and culture; and reward efforts and elevate the ambitions of the Canadian entrepreneurial community. 

Local Laundry was also a finalist for the 2019 Calgary Chamber of Commerce Social Entrepreneurship Award. 

Is there anything else you would like to share with The Localite audience?
Tune into our Proudly Made in Canada podcast where we highlight all things Canadian made and celebrate the stories shared by other Canadian startups, organizations, and entrepreneurs. 

Sounds great – we will definitely have a listen. Thanks so much Kathleen, for answering my questions. All the best with the future plans that are in the works for Local Laundry!


photo: @austinknibb

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