I’m Connor Curran, co-owner and chief laundry folder of Local Laundry

My WHY goes back to University, High School and Junior High School. It can be a tough and challenging time to figure out how to grow up and where your place in this world is going to be. I knew that I wanted to make my parents and family proud and happy so I was always driven to be successful. I never really knew what success meant or what it really was but I knew I wanted to be it. It can be tough when you aren’t the smartest kid in the world or even your classroom. You aren’t the best athlete or particularly gifted at one thing, you are just kinda mediocre at a bunch of things. 

So throughout all my formative years, I did mediocre at a lot of things. From grades to sports to music I was able to do them all efficiently and at an average level. Average isn’t what gets you to become successful though. So when I left University I was determined to sink my teeth into one thing and really excel at it and become successful in my field. At the time, being from Calgary, if you wanted to become successful in this city you had to go into Oil & Gas. It was no question. Oil was booming, plenty of jobs, plenty of money and I wanted a part of it. I couldn’t wait to put my head down and get to work honing on my skillset. The days of being average were numbered in my eyes. 

In exchange for 40 hours a week I was given a 4×4 cubicle where I was told to sit down, put the toys away and stare at my computer screen and paperwork all day. It was utterly depressing. I looked around the office at my colleagues and it was filled with anxiety, impassion and despair. Nobody wanted to be there. Nobody enjoyed being there. Nobody was passionate about the work they were doing. Everyone was working for 5 PM, the weekend and vacation. I was told time and time again by everyone that that’s what success looked like. I was pointed to the VP’s office where he had done his time, toiled in the trenches and now was on the other side of success. His own corner office, six weeks of vacation a year and a bonus that was twice the amount of my annual salary. 

That particular VP, however, was overweight, divorced and one heart attack away from the grave. If that’s what success looked like, I didn’t want any part of it.  I quickly saw the next forty years of my life working in an environment like this that was soulless, void of any passion and people were just trading their finite time for a few zeros in their bank account. 

Not to say that this is the oil & gas industry-standard or this was what it was like at every organization in the energy business, but this was just my limited experience during my time there. Then in 2014 something hit me up the side of the head that I never saw coming. One day my boss’s boss came into the office and asked me to join him in the conference room. This never happened. What did he want with me? 

He was telling me that they were doing a bunch of layoffs and thank you for all the time and energy I had put into the company but my services were no longer required. It hit me like a tonne of bricks. I was completely blindsided. I was convinced that if I just did what I was told to do and worked hard that there was no way they could get rid of me. How would I become successful now? I called my parents, I called my wife, I told my friends. It was embarrassing, it was gut-wrenching. How could I be so upset about leaving a place that I didn’t even enjoy being in the first place? 

So I picked up my things and decided I needed to get out of Calgary for a while to really figure out what success to me meant and what I could do to be truly happy. My wife and I decided to move to Sweden. A country where I could study my MBA and we could live together in a world very different from our own to offer up some perspective on what it meant to be happy in life. 

It was there that I spent every day learning, reading and studying various ways to earn a living that could satisfy all my needs for happiness, fulfillment and success. I looked internally and saw my parents, who had moved to this country when they were eighteen and started a small business together and created a successful and happy life. I knew that owning and operating a small business would be the only path towards what I desired the most. The only problem was, what kind of business could I run if I wasn’t particularly knowledgeable or gifted in one area or another. 

So I began to look even deeper into myself and really try to figure out what it was that I was good at. I soon realized that it was people that really drove me. I had a natural curiosity for people, to get to know them, to understand how they tick, to help them, to work together, to create an impact with people. My years of doing so many activities and work, at a mediocre level, allowed me to relate to many different peoples on various levels. 

So I searched for something that I could use as a vehicle to connect with people, build relationships and offer positive impacts and value to everyone I interacted with. I stumbled upon a way to start an online clothing company for little to no investment. I was never particularly drawn to clothing or fashion but as I grew older I really started to understand how people used clothing as a form of expression for themselves, what they believed in and what they cared for. If I could use clothing as a way to connect with other people who felt the same way I did, we could make a connection and ultimately build a community. 

I poured hours and weeks into this passion project that allowed me to be myself but also allowed me to build something that could give back. Right from the very beginning, there was a portion of our profit given right back to charity. I started to become fascinated about how clothing could give back and build community. Was this a viable business model? What if people didn’t like my clothing or my community-driven ideas? What if I wasn’t smart enough to start a business? 

None of that mattered. I was too busy growing the business, meeting incredible people along the way and finding ways to build and lift up the accomplishments of others in the community. To my surprise, people really took to the notion and were quite open to working together to share the story of their passion project that they poured their soul into as well. Suddenly, it didn’t matter if this was making me a lot of money, what mattered the most was, are we having an impact on other people’s lives. That’s what success became for me. How are we using this business to make other people successful in their own right? Don’t get me wrong, we are a business and not a charity or a non-profit, but just because we aim to make a profit doesn’t mean that we can’t do good. Just because we are a small business doesn’t mean we can’t have a large impact. 

All of a sudden that’s what started to drive me forward. The idea of using this business as a way to connect with other passionate people, other small businesses, charities, artists or people who just wanted to create an impact on their community. My idea of success began shifting to more of one of maximizing other people’s success stories. By sharing everyone else’s story, we were actually sharing our story. 

We aren’t going to make millions of dollars off this business, however it now fulfills me in a way that all the money in the oil & gas industry could never. No longer am I a slave to my own wrist, constantly looking to see how many hours are left in the day before I can go home. Now I’m jumping out of bed and foaming at the mouth at the possibility of the next opportunity where I can work with someone from the community and we can create a positive impact together. 

That’s my why. I live every day as if it’s my last, more excited about the next person I meet than I was about the last person I met. I’m thankful for everything this business has given me. It has given me freedom with my time. It has given me a community of amazing people who I can rely on and they can rely on me. I’m not making anywhere near what I was in oil & gas but that’s not what defines success for me anymore and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.