In this episode, we’re joined by Connor Curran, Chief Laundry Folder and Founder at Local Laundry. Inspired by his parents, Connor wanted to become an entrepreneur and find a way to connect with the community, bring people together, and make their lives a little bit better.
He shifted his attention towards clothing, as he believes the way we dress and present ourselves to the world sends messages about who we are and what we believe in. So he started an online t-shirt company called Local Laundry.
Since anyone can start a t-shirt company, the main factor is to differentiate yourself. Local Laundry focuses on giving back to the community, bringing people together, building a community around a brand, and celebrating everyone in that community.
Furthermore, Local Laundry switched all of its manufacturing to Canadian-made products. People are willing to pay slightly more as all the profit goes back to the Canadian community.
Connor also describes how the pandemic offered them the opportunity to switch their business focus from retail to custom garments and details the benefits of this move.
Listen on Apple Podcasts here or Spotify here.
Ken: Welcome to the Physical Product Movement, a podcast by Fiddle, we share stories of the world’s most ambitious and exciting physical product brands to help you capitalize on the monumental change in how, why and where consumers buy. I’m your host, Ken Ojuka.
Taylor: Hey everyone. Welcome back to the Physical Product Movement podcast. Our guest today is Connor Curran, the chief laundry folder and founder of local laundry Canadian-made garments for social good. He talks about how his entrepreneurial parents inspired him to start his own company. Why he chose clothing after trying his hand in tech. How he focuses on community values and giving back to build his company, how shifting his manufacturing to a more expensive location helped his business grow and how focusing on a B2B strategy during the pandemic led to even more growth. Connor is the type of guy who speaks nuggets of wisdom on a whim mid-sentence while telling a story or talking about something else. And he shared a lot of wisdom in this conversation. I hope you enjoy it.
Ken: All right. Hey Connor. Thanks for joining me this morning. How are you doing?
Connor: Very well. Thank you. Thanks so much for having me on the show.
Ken: All right. And your company is Local Laundry. You guys are in Canada. I want to hear all about your story. I want to hear, you know, the motivation behind starting your company. It’s a little bit different from other companies we’ve had on the Physical Product Movement podcast, but it’s a clothing brand.
Ken: But I think that there it’s very similar lessons that the audience will learn and, you know, you’re a startup you’re selling to consumers. You guys have a big sort of B2B play that we want to dig into. Before we get into all of that though, I just want to kick it off with a quote or you know, as they’re saying that’s really motivational to you.
Connor: Yeah. My favorite quote is your success in life will be determined by how many uncomfortable conversations you’re willing to have. And that’s a lifelong practice for me since I’m a big people pleaser. I tend to avoid conflict if I can, but, you know, it’s something I reflect on often, you know, if you’re not willing to have an uncomfortable conversation, then you know, you’re not willing to become successful.
Ken: Yeah. Is there an example of that? You know, a time when maybe you were avoiding a conversation and uncomfortable conversation and then you did and realized you probably should have had it earlier. That’s usually what happens to me. Oh,
Connor: every, almost every single day. I mean, you can pull from every sort of business scenario.
Connor: I mean, think of a negotiation, right? You’re going back and forth. Prospective client, or maybe even a supplier and you know, you’re going back and forth on price and you just, you know, you want to be their friend, you want to maintain good relationships and you don’t want to, you know, whatever. So you see it on price.
Connor: Right. And then, you know, you just, you let them kind of get the better end of the deal. Or let’s just say you have an employee that, a team member that you really like, is a good person, but just isn’t working out, you know, in the position that they’re in and you just kind of, instead of facing that head on and just having that uncomfortable conversation, you just kind of let them be in the wrong seat and maybe they’re not even right for the company for, you know, 3, 6, 12 months. And then what happens, right? And then it’s no good for anyone. And I mean, those, that’s not like, you know, that hasn’t happened yet, thankfully, but you know, being able to just say, okay, you know what, this is going to be an uncomfortable conversation.
Connor: As, what do we do with uncomfortable conversations, Ken. We pushed them off. Right. I don’t want to have that call. I don’t want to mess up even with customers. I mean, how many customer service emails you have where it’s just like, ah, man, I don’t want to talk about this let’s push this off or send an email rather than have a phone call, you know, when you mess up big and it’s like, no, don’t push that uncomfortable conversation off, you know?
Connor: Don’t avoid conflict sometimes when you steer into conflict. It can be good conflict is good when there’s conflict there’s growth. So by you, by having uncomfortable conversations, just by being comfortable with being uncomfortable, you know, it allows you room to grow as a better person, a better leader, ultimately as a better organization.
Ken: Right. Yeah. I think, I think any business owner or entrepreneur knows about the employee example that you gave, you know, and not at all. I think you could also take it the other way, which is, a lot of times the employee that’s struggling or it’s not right for the job. They know it too, you know?
Ken: And so you’re kind of giving them permission to be like, okay, Hey, you can, you can look for your next thing and I’m happy to help in any way. But just having the conversation sometimes it’s the elephant in the room, but nobody’s talking about it. It’s like, you gotta just talk about it.
Connor: Just talk about it. Is that elephant head on.
Ken: Yeah. Well, awesome. Well, let’s hear about your background and how you came to, to be, to launch or your clothing brand, to launch a Local Laundry. And, but I kind of want to hear about, you know, where you come from and, you know, what you were like, if you were always an entrepreneur or something that you came to recently.
Connor: Yeah, definitely. So I think it started with my parents. My parents immigrated to Canada from Ireland. They immigrated during the troubles there in the seventies and they came to Canada, no education, they both worked three jobs, you know, classic, you know, new Canadian story. And then eventually they opened up an Irish pub and they became restaurant owners. And so they’ve been doing that for the last 25 years. So kind of growing up, I saw how hard they worked and how they were able to build a life for themselves, you know, and support their family and work hard and be their own bosses and kind of get out what’d you put into it. And I always kinda like that notion, you know, being kind of in control of your own destiny and not letting anyone else kind of decide and determine your life for you. And not only did I see how they built a life around being successful entrepreneurs, but I saw how they’re able to use their business as a vehicle, as a way to give back as a way to connect to the community, as a way to give back to those that need it.
Connor: And that’s a way to, to make the world just a little bit better in their own unique way. And I thought that’s so interesting. You know, here’s a restaurant that, you know, not only pulls a good point and serves good food, but also finds a way to make people’s lives better in small and big ways.
Connor: And you know, I kind of like how my parents have that entrepreneurial side of things. Maybe I can give that a go, but I liked the idea of how they have used their business as a way to give back, connect with people and bring and build community, you know? So I tried a few things. You know, of course where I’m from, we’re kind of like a, Alberta’s kind of like the Texas of the north, as best as described to our American friends down south, because we’re big oil and cattle country up here and if you want to be successful up here, you work in oil and gas and that’s where all the money is. And so that’s what I did. And then of course, I got laid off as you ride the rollercoaster of oil and gas and the price of a barrel of oil. So I was, you know, kind of shook, didn’t know what to do, my whole world got turned upside down and got laid off. And that’s when I decided to do something crazy. My wife and I moved to Sweden of all places. And that’s where I did my MBA. I did my master’s because I had dual citizenship with Ireland. It made it pretty easy to study there. And it was there that I kind of said, you know what?
Connor: I don’t want to work on gas. I don’t want to work for anyone else. I didn’t want to have that feeling of getting laid off by, you know, my boss’s boss. Who I never met. Not knocking on the gas. It’s great, it’s a great industry. It just wasn’t for me. So I just started, you know, I looked at my parents as my inspiration and I’d love to be able to create a business.
Connor: I’d love to be able to become an entrepreneur. And I’d love to be able to use it as a vehicle to give back. Yeah. Try a couple of different things. I mean, like everyone else in 2010, I’m sure you can relate to this more than most, you know, I tried to build an app, try to get into tech and that kind of thing and realized it, I was not a coder, not a developer, not a programmer.
Connor: So I needed to, I wanted to find something that I could build that I could use as a vehicle to connect people. And that’s where I kind of dawned on the idea of, you know, I was kind of always drawn to clothing is how clothing is. Is this Billboard that expresses one’s values either on a conscious or subconscious level.
Connor: Every, every decision we make when it comes to our wardrobe is a very deliberate decision and how we choose to dress yourself and how we choose it, present ourselves to the world. It sends a lot of messages about who we are as a person, what we believe in. And I thought, what if we could kind of take that notion and use it as a vehicle to bring people together, to share those values connect and ultimately build community.
Connor: This all sounded great in theory, but you know, I was this broke student living in Northern Sweden. No experience in e-commerce, no experience in fashion, textile manufacturing, you name it. But I just had this idea. I had this theory about, you know, clothing being able to bring people together and in a small little way, The idea of like, you know, we love the sport craft beer.
Connor: We love to support local organic produce. Like what if we could support local clothing too? What if our laundry could be local? And that’s where my wife actually came up with the name Local Laundry. And so I just did what any student does, what any young person does with a curiosity and a passion for trying to build something. I took to Google and I typed in how to make a t-shirt company. And then, that popped up a couple of different articles and popped up a YouTube video. So I found it when I watched a step-by-step guide. It was a Shopify video, how to make a t-shirt competition from scratch.
Connor: And I just was enamored with this. So I followed it. Step-by-step 24 hours later, 50 bucks. I had an online t-shirt company.
Ken: Yeah. Times have changed, right? It’s a lot easier than it used to be, until I launched, you know, a t-shirt company in general. But I think actually the same trend is going on across all categories. Right.
Connor: You name it. There’s no better time to become an entrepreneur. Try your hand in something, you know, it is. So it does, it requires a little to no investment. Takes his time, patience, you know, and that burning curiosity to want to try and build something, you know?
Ken: Yeah. Yeah. And it’s something interesting. I mean, we were talking a little bit before the show. You know, so my business fiddle, it’s, you know, it’s kind of riding this trend, right? That there are a lot of people who are stepping into entrepreneurship, that are launching these brands. And they’re finding success, right? You put up a Shopify site, that’s the typical sort of playbook, Shopify, Amazon. You find a manufacturer and you’re off to the races and sometimes, you know, these brands grow very quickly, you know? And so, what I always like to ask is, what about the process was easier than you thought? And what about, the process was harder than you thought?
Connor: You know it’s easy and hardest are so subjective and relative, nothing is easy and nothing is hard if you have the right attitude about it.
Connor: You know, like I said, no experience in e-commerce, no experience in, in, in manufacturing or. Fashion or whatever, but if you have the right attitude and enthusiasm and curiosity, nothing is hard. I mean, there’s never been a better time to start a business, not only from a technology standpoint, but just from a learning standpoint, you know, you don’t know how to do something.
Connor: There’s a million trillion, zillion books out there. A million trillion websites pop up and the University YouTube, no one needs a degree to start a business anymore. So, if something is in the process it is hard. You know, you really kind of had to look in the mirror and say, Ok, What, where do I need to adjust my attitude?
Connor: Now, the first excuse everyone would kind of throw as well. I got no money. You know, I got no money. You know, I don’t have enough money. And I think congratulations, that’s a great problem to have because when businesses and we’ve seen it time and time again, businesses with a ton of money, you probably see it in your space all the time, especially in the tech industry, you know, you get a bunch of money.
Connor: What do you do when you come across a problem? You throw money at it until that problem goes away. And that doesn’t really build a solid foundation for the business and it doesn’t build a core function that serves a purpose and puts a very costly band-aid over the top of it. So
Connor: I think the easy thing for me was that I finally found something that I could pour my heart and soul into, I could sink my teeth into, I could spend hours and hours just diving in and it was all fun. And it was a game. It’s still like a big puzzle, you know, the never ending game theory of it all. And the hard part is just, I think maybe the only hard part I would say. You know,it’s just battling our patients, right?
Connor: Because we live in a generation of instant gratification. We want everything now, and we want to be a $10 million company by tomorrow. We want a hundred thousand followers on our podcast or on our Instagram by tomorrow. Then when we don’t get that, we get frustrated. Right. Because everything else in our life is so instantly satisfied.
Connor: So, that is a constant reminder to be like things that take time, the notion of compounded interest. You know, you just build upon your successes from yesterday and you come together and build a little bit more today. You’re gonna build a little bit more tomorrow, and then when you step back and after time, you can really, you know, you have something really solid that you can be proud of.
Connor: But you know just, no, that’s not going to happen by tomorrow. It’s not even going to happen by next year. It could
Ken: take 10 years. Yeah. Yeah. You have to find something that you’re willing to put that kind of time into, right? Like this isn’t a, you know, in six months, you’re going to be a millionaire type business
Ken: You know, and I don’t even think those exist a lot of times when we hear about these overnight successes, you’re not getting the full story, right. There’s like a decade before where you saw somebody, you know, really hitting their head against the problem.
Connor: And if that’s not the case, then it’s all fake. I think social media is a blessing and a curse because the things that get celebrated in the business entrepreneur world, there are those instant successes, those people that raised hundreds of millions of dollars and people that you know, became billionaires at 25. And I didn’t, and that’s not the reality
Connor: That’s the. That’s a one in a billion chance. Right. And so I think it can affect a lot of entrepreneurs, especially young people that if they don’t achieve that, they reach a certain age and they don’t have that. They’re a failure, you know, and I really try to get that message out there. Those things take time. You just kind of put your head down, put the work in, enjoy the process and you know, just, it will take time until.
Ken: Yeah. Yeah, that’s a good point. So let’s talk just a little bit more about Local Laundry. So you launch your t-shirt brand. I guess one of the biggest issues is, okay. There’s a million t-shirt brands out there. Right. So how do you stand out? How do you find distribution? How do you find customers? What was your guys’ approach to them?
Connor: When we say it’s never been an easier time to start a business, that’s also a blessing and a curse to me it’s never been easier, which is great, but that means that any person just like myself with enough curiosity and no money, you know, can Google search the same stuff. I Google search and watch the same YouTube and come up with the same company. Right? So when everyone can start a t-shirt company, how do you differentiate yourself? And what we kind of did was, you know, we’re really going to dig deep on that community aspect.
Connor: We’re really going to dig deep on that, giving back and bringing people together and building a community around a brand and celebrating everyone in that community. So, instead of us kind of talking about, Hey, look how great our clothes are. It’s like, Hey, look at this. Look at this artist, look at this charity, look at this other business, a coffee shop or brewery, you know, a candle maker, look out for the great they’re doing and look at all the great things that are in your community that you can support and let’s tell their story. So by telling everyone else’s story, we’re telling our own, and how do you do that? How do you build a community? Just kind of from scratch? Well, you build it one sincere relationship at a time.
Connor: We would go out. We’d find people through social media emails, cold calls to say, Hey, you’re just starting out as a small business or an artist or an athlete. We’re just starting out. Do you want to hang out and be friends? And let’s see if we can help each other. Let’s do photo shoots together. Let’s write a blog on your website.
Connor: You write a blog on my website. You know, let’s have an event, let’s start a book club, you know, start a meetup, you know, who do you know? Who do I know? How can we help each other? And Hey, do you know a guy that could do accounting? I got a guy. Do you know what I am a graphic designer? Oh yeah. You got it. You should meet this person. And you just slowly over time build this community with genuine, authentic and sincere relationships. And now you kind of look back and you just kind of say. You have that support system around you, you have people that want to buy that guy. Sure. You know, I’ve met Connor, he helped me out. He’s done this. He’s done that. Or he’s given back to the community or their company gives back in that kind of way. So it’s a lot of hard work, you know, especially when you have no money, but marketing when you just start out is incredibly easy. If you are willing to build sincere relationships, you know, there’s a great local energy drinks company, like Energy Tea here in Calgary for the first year and a half.
Connor: Every single order. This guy hand delivered himself with a handwritten note. This guy drove all across Calgary and beyond to hand deliver sometimes just, you know, one, one individual drink, just to say thank you to every single customer who bought supportive, you know? And so that goes a long way. And so you have to be willing, you know, marketing is just building relationships with the more real and authentic you can build those relationships, the longer lasting, the stronger and the better those relationships will be.
Ken: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I, you know, I think about Y Combinator and they talk about doing things that don’t scale right. And things that don’t scale. Absolutely. And then, you know, the example that I keep thinking about is, Instacart, I don’t know if you guys know Instacart in Canada, if you have it there, but, yeah, so great founders, those guys in the early days, they were actually the people going, doing the shopping, you know, delivering the groceries to their customer base and a lot of it is just market research and really, you know, trying to do, customer development, right? The process of trying to understand your customer and understand what they want, what their motivations are, what you need to improve, you know, what they don’t like about your product or service. So, do you have an example of, of one of these relationships that you were talking about, that you feel like was really pivotal for Local Laundry?
Connor: Oh man. I mean, no question. I think one of the most pivotal, was a guy, he owned a coworking space and so he got to see all these brands and companies kind of grow and start, and they’re called work nicer here in Calgary, Alex partici, and, you know, he was kind of always a bit of a mentor to us and she had always let us use this space for events for free, and you’re always supporting a sweater and one day we kind of took them out for being. And he just kind of said that he kind of sat us down at the time we were manufacturing all across the world. Our hats came from China, our shirts were coming from Mexico, sweaters in Bangladesh. It, because we didn’t know anything better, but then he sat us down and he said, you guys are called local lottery, but your stuff is.
Connor: All over the world. It’s like, how does that make any sense? Right. Well, that’s a really good point, Alex. I don’t know. I don’t know how to answer that. And we always had these kinds of excuses that key chain manufacturing was so expensive. We’d have to raise our prices or pay that much and no one cared. But, you know, the more we kind of talk to people, the more we kind of, the more we kind of saw these calling companies kind of pop up and it became a competition who could create the coolest design, or who could make a garment for cheaper and cheaper, you know, as we kind of get into all these retail stores and chains and all that kind of thing is kind of.
Connor: Saw the future as a race to the bottom, you know, eventually one day we’d be selling our shirts for five bucks, a pop, you know, two for eight. And we just didn’t, we didn’t want that. So we said, okay, how do we slow that down? And how do we make sure that we’ve got some longevity because we have one or two designs that were cool, but we’re not designed for.
Connor: That’s I, my business partner, we’re not cool by any means. So how do we make this brand about something that’s a little bit bigger than the clothes and the key we’re building. And that’s when we started doing research into key manufacturing and, you know, the importance of making clothing here in Canada and why it’s so expensive and why it’s all but disappeared.
Connor: We discovered a stat by the government. The government here in Canada runs a stat website called Stats, Ken. And one of the state was prior to 1989, over 70% of all coli bought and sold here in Canada was made here in Canada. Which is great. You go into your parents closet, your grandparents’ closet, all their old stuff will all be made here in Canada.
Connor: Now fast forward to 2015, that same stat, less than 5% of all clothing bought and sold in Canada is made in Canada. Right? So that’s
Connor: 20, 25 years strapped 75%. So that was one of those relationships that kind of made us realize. We gotta be different. We gotta do something drastic. And we switched all of our manufacturing to Canadian made that was about three years ago. And it was the single greatest decision we ever made.
Ken: Yeah. Let’s double click on that a little bit. I think it’s a little bit counterintuitive, you know, a lot of people have those same concerns that you guys have. And, you know, mainly it’s too expensive to do it locally. You can get much better prices overseas. You know, and just even the logistics of it, there’s not as many, there’s not as many companies, you know, that manufacturer locally, you know, those are some of the common concerns. Did I get them all? Did you guys have any other concerns that you want to do to try to
Connor: get? Yeah. Yeah. I mean, you know, you hit the nail right on the head and for us it was, you know, we kind of saw the bigger competition. Like we’re teeny tiny look at these big dogs, these big guys, they. You know, garments for a quarter or a 10th of the price that we can never, we’re never, ever going to be able to compete on price. So why bother? Why try to make a discount garment when people have already figured out one that’s sort of look okay, where can we compete with them, where can we compete on them, his story, and purpose and intention.
Connor: And one of the areas is okay, these guys have. These massive operations overseas they’re never, ever going to bring their manufacturing back to onshore. They’re never going to onshore; they’ve been offshored years ago. They’re never going to onshore because they’ve gotten fat off these margins and they have prices and everything.
Connor: So what if we just started, one of, we stopped being a price, compete on quality and compete on story and compete on that community building aspect. And that was kind of the most interesting part for us because now we’re not even competing against servers, we’re in a different category altogether. Right. We’re not competing with, you know, Roots or Nike or Abercrombie and Fitch, right. Because they produce all their stuff overseas under conditions of who knows, who knows what and adhering to, who knows what kind of environmental regulations and laws and that kind of thing. And so, we started doing all of our team’s inspections.
Connor: Yes. There’s constraints. Yes. There’s price increases. But to our great surprise, because we had that community foundation built up over the, you know, the first couple of years, our community supported us whole heartedly. They kind of said, you know what? This is a great move. We understand it. We want to support it. We’re willing to pay a little bit more. And once you kind of just educate the community on why you pay more, you know, it’s because all that money is going back to Canadians is paying, living wages, health benefits, safe work environments, safe, environmental practices. People kind of say, you know what?
Connor: Yeah, I’ll spend an extra 20 bucks on a sweater like that. That makes sense to me, people vote with their wallet, right. And again, it kind of goes back to that notion of why I started this, why I’m so drawn to clothing in the first place, because clothing represents your values either on a conscious or subconscious level.
Connor: And so to give our customers and community this opportunity to express the world that they want to live in yesterday, they want to live in a world where products are made responsibly. They’re made ethically and they’re made by their neighbors, you know, who then go take that money and reinvest it back into their local economy. You know, so they’ve really stood by us. And it was again, the single greatest decision we’ve ever made and the pandemic only highlighted that more.
Ken: Yeah. Do you mind describing that a little bit more? What did the pandemic do to your business?
Connor: So prior to the pandemic 70% of all of our business, 70% of our revenue is retail, right? So we sell the stores to sort of source those customers. So we had national chains. We had, we were in about 25, 30 stores across Canada, all the airports, you know, you name it, call it hits. Those stores shut, no orders come in. Nobody knows when the order is going to come back in. When the stores back up 70% of our retail gone overnight.
Connor: So what do you do while you look at all your kinds of assets? Okay. Here’s all the assets we have in place. Here’s what we’re good at. Here’s what we can do. And, you know, we can still make clothes. You know, thankfully our manufacturing partners did everything that they needed to do to make sure everyone was safe and they could still produce and ship things out.
Connor: So we started to get requests coming from businesses, corporations, companies everyone’s worked from switch to work from home. They want to be able to send gifts to their employees and boost morale, you know, have some branded comfy clothes on these zoom calls, team, video calls. So they said, you know, we want to make it sustainable. We want to make it to support B2C, to supporting small business Canadian made something that’ll last forever, you know, because all these companies, I mean, you probably have hundreds of these Ken, you know, from your soccer tournaments and everything and your, you know, those shirts that you get at events or those shirts.
Connor: The cheap guild in shirts are indoor and nobody looks good in them. Nobody likes to wear military clothes because when you go to sleep, right there you have a pajama pile. So we kind of just said, you know, to come to the stop, make pajamas for your people and make cause it, they actually want to wear.
Connor: That kind of just took off like wildfire, you know, because we were an e-commerce company, we had, you know, experienced shipping individual packages. So a company would order, you know, a hundred, 200, 1,000, 6,000 garments for other employees across North America. And instead of them having to go into the office and package individual, packages to all and label and ship out all these to other employees work from home.
Connor: We can take care of that. We can make it extra special. We have pop boxes of girl, guy cookies and candy, you know, and individual notes inserts to kind of tell us our story, the story of their company, supporting us, what that meant. And now we’ve flipped the script that’s now 70% of our revenue is the custom garments for B2B partners.
Connor: And we were hardly even in retail anymore. We’ve kind of forgotten that space.
Ken: And do you prefer, you know, where your company is now compared to where it was before? Or do you prefer, you know, selling to this different client based?
Connor: Big time and I highly recommend it even to all your CPG listeners and fans. And for a couple of reasons gone are the met 15, met 30, met 60, met 120 terms, right? Those are so prevalent in CPG and retail. We don’t make anything now until we get payment upfront. Right. So our cash flow cycle has just increased. It’s just sped up tenfold.
Ken: So transformative right there. Just that. Right.
Connor: Cause how sick are companies, you know, and I’m speaking to all you guys out there with CPG and working in retail where you get this massive order, it’s great, you know, a hundred K order, but then they’re not going to pay you for six months. So you’ve got to float that for six months, right? That’s tough on us. All businesses, small businesses, aren’t banks, you know, we need to be paid. So we’ve negotiated that with all of our clients. That’s the whole problem. So now we get paid for our grounds for producing them. So that was the first thing. Then came the margins. Right? How many times have you heard from your clients and see other CPG customers that just when you work with large retailers and distributors the margins, right? They just whittle you down, you know, there’s penalties, there’s fees, there’s this, that there’s all sorts of charges left, right and center, and you’re just fighting for margin. And again, you get a hundred thousand dollars. Great. How much that, how, like, what’s your profit margin on that a hundred and to make any money.
Ken: And a lot of times, if you, and this is something that we talked about a little bit earlier, which is if you’re not even tracking your COGS, right. You could be losing money and you don’t realize it, right? Yeah.
Connor: You think, oh, I got a hundred thousand coming in and only 90,000 going out or whatever, or I’m in the money. That’s not the full story. You gotta be at the top of those numbers. Right. And just the time that it takes right. Dealing with buyers and dealing with distributors and logistics. All that. So those were the two really big things, better margins, better payment terms and just better control. And also the ownership of the relationship is a big one. So we have now, you know, by sticking direct to consumers online on the B2B side of things, we’re kind of making a statement that we want to own the relationship with our end customer, right? Whether that’s the businesses or the people that are buying online. You know, we don’t want to give that up to a middleman. Right?
Ken: Yeah. And maybe you can double click on that. Why do you think that’s important? You know, I obviously agree, you know, but maybe articulate what you guys were thinking or some of the benefits that you’ve seen from owning that relationship?
Connor: So it’s a twofold one. Purely from a personal, you know, a relationship building is like, I’m a very old guy, as I was getting tired of working with buyers that would just, you know, call you up and say, Hey, I want 500 this like, okay. Yeah, no problem, what are you up to this? How are your kids? You know, there’s like, no, none of that. They’re just, they’re all business. So just owning that, you know, that the relationship from a sincere and authentic place to really grow and build that, you know, that’s really important. We want to know, get to know these people. We want to know how we can help all people who are end to end customers or B2B clients, their employees.
Connor: We want to know. What it is that they do, why they do it and how it can help. So purely from a relationship standpoint, but also from a, you know, a much more scientific and much more logical standpoint. Like you want to own the data, that relationship, you want to know how many people are buying the demographics of that, the frequency, the average cart value, you know, all those details.
Connor: You want to own that data, right? Why give that data ownership to someone else. Right? So when you own the relationship, not only do you, are you able to steer the messaging and get feedback and build the relationship, but you own the data on that, right? And you can have their emails and have them sign up to your newsletter and communicate with them that way it opens all different sorts of channels to communicate with them.
Connor: So it’s yeah. Anyone listening and I often think. Yes, we’re in clothing. I think you could do the same with the CPG world, right? To own that relationship.
Ken: I think it’s true for any business, any business.
Connor: Any business.
Connor: Right. You’re a coffee company. Instead of selling the grocery stores, go to all these companies, these massive corporations, working, all these people, working from home and create custom branded business coffee delivery, right?
Connor: Where you go and deliver coffee to everyone’s home for freight wherever they go, these employees get branded company coffee bags once a month. Like how cool would that be?
Ken: Yeah. One of the trends that you see going on in the CPG space is actually, you know, getting a lot of sales from farmer’s markets, you know, and this isn’t, these aren’t necessarily just small businesses. It could be, you could be a substantial size, but one of your big sort of distribution channels is showing up at all the farmer’s markets. Across the country, you know, and I think that it gives you that face-to-face with the customer. You know, I keep thinking about this concept of, I read this book years ago and I’ve really liked it and shaped my thinking a lot, and actually started with Lean Startup.
Ken: And I don’t know if you’ve read that. So we went to Greece, you know, but the guy behind it, Eric Reese, was actually a student of Steve Blank, Steve Blanks, like a Stanford professor. And he’s really well known in the tech scene, for, you know, his advice to small startups, you know, and he always talks about us, small startups aren’t just smaller versions of big companies. Startups are different. You’re discovering, you’re uncovering, you know, your customer base here. So he has this concept of customer discovery, right. And customer development, where, you know, you’re proactively finding out about your customer base and trying to find your product market fit, you know?
Ken: But I think that, you know, all of it is about, one of the things that he says is get outside the building, get out of the building, right. Go be with your customers, get in front of them, understand their world, you know, the example that you gave of, you know, how do your kids get to know who these people are?
Ken: You know, what their lives are like, what they’re doing the next weekend. I think that that helps you to then ultimately make a much better product that resonates with people. Yeah,
Connor: Definitely. No question.
Ken: So anyway, I think that those are some pretty good nuggets of advice and I’m Connor. I can tell you’re, you’re a podcast, I’m a podcast host.
Ken: I’m a podcast host. We could podcast all day. I’m sure. I want to be cognizant of time. Was there anything else that you wanted to maybe tell us about Local Laundry, you know, any promotions or, you know, kind of what’s next for you, guys?
Connor: I mean what’s next for us is definitely, you know, expanding our business kind of Down South.
Connor: You know, hopefully you’ll be seeing some local laundry walking around Utah in the not too distant future, but our goal is really becoming B Corp certified, which is an important certification. To, to become, you know, a really socially conscious brand. And we want to make clothing. That’s not only Canadian made, but socially conscious.
Connor: We want to make the most socially conscious clothing. You know, whether by using eco-friendly fibers, by manufacturing, Kim manufacturing safely and securely and sustainably, and, you know, telling the story of everyone that we kind of interact with both in our community and our supply chain and everything.
Connor: We want to become one of the most socially conscious brands out there. And there’s lots out there, you know, that walk the walk and talk the talk and that kind of thing. We kind of want to do one step a little bit better. So we’re really looking forward to what the future brings and seeing how we can give back and just our own little way, you know, we have a goal that we want to be able to donate a million dollars to local charities by 2030. We’re about a 10th of the way there.
Ken: That’s awesome.
Connor: Yeah. Yeah. You know, we have our giving garments for every two or soccer blankets that we sell. We don’t want to do a homeless organization. We’ve donated over 5,000 to organizations all across Canada, since 2015, you know, just, just a little thing. Well, so it was out there. We got a business book club we started during the pandemic, which is always fun. You know, you named off a couple of good books there and we all have that stack of business books in our zoom call backgrounds that we’re wanting to get around to reading at some point.
Connor: And so I started the business book club as a way that we can all read together and learn from each other. And just discuss what we’re reading and what we’re learning. So that’s been a ton of fun as well, but yeah, look out world. We’re going to, we’re going to take over one social conscious garment at a time.
Ken: All right. Let’s switch to the quickfire round. Just got four quick questions. What is one tool or resource that you find indispensable?
Connor: Yeah, lately. I think about this all the time lately. It’s this email tool I use called Superhuman. It’s an overpriced email application that goes on top of your Gmail and it just, I fly it, gamifies your email in your inbox.
Connor: And I fly through my inbox. You know, I used to not be able to hit inbox zero, but maybe he’s there like once a month. I do it every single day now. And it is, I could not live without it.
Ken: That’s cool. That was recently recommended to me. So I’m definitely going to check it out,
Connor: Oh Ken! Change your life, it’ll change your life.
Ken: See that’s the thing. That’s what everybody says, right?
Connor: It’s over priced. It’s expensive for what it is, but it’s changed your life. I love it.
Ken: What is a book that you can recommend to people?
Connor: I got two. Wow. Okay. Three books. The most important one for any entrepreneur to start is the E-Myth revisited by Michael Gerber. That is a great one to really understand the concept of working on your business rather than in your business. That was really important. This kind of the sequel to that once you’re done is Traction by Gino Liquid. Building an actual system and entrepreneur operating system for your business. So you can actually get traction and grow the heck out of your business, that’s one that we just recently read. And then if you’re just looking for a little bit of inspiration, I highly recommend Shoe Dog by Phil Knight. They
Ken: Love that book, that one, you know, it’s one of the only business books that. And I don’t even know if you consider a business book. I think it’s just an inspirational, you know, sort of entrepreneurial story. But it’s the only book where I read it and then immediately started it again, as soon as I got to the end.
Connor: Yeah, totally. I did the exact same thing. Books like that, you know, there’s lots of books that can tell us how to do things and the technical, but sometimes we just need a book, a little bit inspiration, you know, and know that, okay the founder of Nike, Nike is really great now, but it was a grind and it was a struggle and he made a lot of sacrifices and most importantly, it took time, but that’s okay.
Ken: What is one piece of advice that you’d give to your 21 year old self?
Connor: Stop talking about it and do it, you know, I think at 21, we really second guess ourselves.
Connor: We’re unsure about ourselves. We have other priorities. We have friends and families telling us to do one thing. If I could go back 21, I would aggressively seek out what it was that I, what it is that I love to do. Yeah. I’ve done everything I could do to do it. You know, I think at 21, I was like, ah, I’d love to be a business owner someday.
Connor: Probably not smart enough to do it yet. So I’ll just wait till I get smart enough. And if I had just not listened to anyone else and just listened to myself and just said, you know, stop talking about it and do it, don’t be afraid. You know, I, I could be miles ahead of where I am right now, but I’m extremely happy where I am right now, but don’t talk about it.
Connor: Don’t create, don’t take six months to create a perfect business plan or try and figure out. You know, the business doesn’t have to be perfect. You, when you launch it, don’t have to be perfect. It just has to be right. And so stop talking about it. Go after it and do it.
Ken: That’s awesome. Yeah. It reminds me of something that I like, which is, don’t talk about what you’re going to do, talk about what you did totally. And it’s kind of the same vein. Who is one person in your field of work that you’d love to take lunch?
Connor: Chip Wilson founder of lululemon. So he’s a Calgary guy himself. He built lululemon and invented the whole athleisure category. Another great book, Big Black Stretchy Pants is about a bar van and he was pushed out by lululemon. And I’ve heard it. He’s just built an incredible brand. I’ve messaged him on LinkedIn probably once a quarter asking for 15 minutes with him, I love to have lunch with him
Connor: He’s a wild character if you’ve heard, but would love to meet him.
Ken: Yeah, no, that’s awesome. So let’s just, let’s wrap up here. If anybody wants to, you know, reach out to you or engage with you and your company, what’s the best way to do that?
Connor: Definitely check out locallaundry.com. You can find us at the Local Laundry and all the social media. Feel free to fire us an email at email@example.com or give us at, I think we’re 1 8, 5, 5. Yeah. Local.
Ken: Okay, awesome. And then you’re on LinkedIn. I think that’s how we connected. Okay. Awesome. Well, Hey Connor, I appreciate you taking your time today and being with us.
Ken: I love your story. I love what you guys are doing on the mission. I think you’re doing a lot of good, but you’re also building a very solid business on, you know, in the same, at the same time. So thank you for sharing those nuggets of wisdom, and we appreciate it.
Connor: Thank you for having me Ken.
Ken: We appreciate it. All right.
Ken: The Physical Product Movement podcast is brought to you by Fiddle to find out more about Fiddle and how our industry leading inventory ops platform is giving modern brands and manufacturers full visibility into their inventory and operations visit fiddle.io, and then make sure to search for Physical Product Movement in Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or anywhere else, podcasts are found. Make sure to click subscribe. So you don’t miss any future episodes on behalf of the team here at Fiddle. Thanks for listening.