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10 Questions with Local Laundry: A ‘Getting to Know Our Calgary Social Enterprises’ Blog

Ten social enterprises have been selected as 2021 finalists for What’s Next YYC, a biennial award created by the Trico Charitable Foundation in 2019 to celebrate and advance excellence in social entrepreneurship in Calgary. What’s Next YYC features two $25,000 jury prizes, a $25,000 audience choice, and $25,000 the finalists share amongst themselves. The awards will be handed out on Thursday, November 18, 2021, at the virtual Pivot on Purpose Summit (POP). POP is a three-day summit hosted by the Trico Foundation Social Entrepreneurship Centre at the Haskayne School of Business (more on POP at the bottom of this blog). To help the POP audience and others get to know these social enterprises better, this blog series will have each finalist answer ten questions – five basic questions and five from local funders. Registration is open now.

[box] Brief bio of Local Laundry: Local Laundry is in the business of building community. Through 5 brand pillars, Local Laundry creates an impact through the sale of garments for social good. By manufacturing locally in Canada, Local Laundry is able to reduce their carbon footprint, while ensuring their garments are ethically made. This allows customers, who are both individuals and businesses to reduce their own carbon footprint, and increase the impact their supply chain has. These garments for social good are also used in various fundraising campaigns to raise funds and awareness for various causes and charities across the country with an end goal to raise $1M for local charities by 2030. Programs & Awards: JMH Launchpad, Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Mount Royal University; Culbert Family Award for Philanthropy, United Way; Entrepreneurs Choice Award, Startup Canada. [/box]

Q & A with Dustin Paisley, Co-Founder of Local Laundry:

Dustin Paisley & Connor Curran, Local Laundry. Photo cred: Kelly Hofer

Five Basic Questions:

  1. What is your social enterprise’s ‘origin story’?
“Local Laundry began as a way for Calgary’s to show support and pride for their local community, while giving back to charities. As a company, the five pillars of community building quickly emerged in an effort to build a more socially conscious company. Since then, the company has evolved into a progressive clothing company that is working on increasing sustainability throughout all aspects of the business. This includes an eco-friendly material transition, waste reduction strategies, and an audacious goal to donate $1M to local charities by 2030. Through the help of customers who purchase online, retailers who purchase wholesale, and custom partners who choose to print their merchandise on Local Laundry’s socially conscious, Canadian-made garments, the business continues to grow and slowly work toward achieving that audacious goal.”
  1. What are your current annual sales and annual social impact?
“$878K (Jan 31, 2021 Y/E)
$1.2M projected (Jan 31, 2022 Y/E)
$30,000 raised for local charities
1,932 kg of CO2 offset
18,278m² of forest protection
Eco-fibres account for 50% of all garments produced
Over 20,000 pop bottles were recycled to produce toques”
  1. What are you most proud of regarding your social enterprise?
“As a small business, with only four employees, we’ve been able to accomplish all of the above. We’re incredibly proud of how much we’ve been able to do with so little. We started the company 5 years ago with just under $3,000 in startup capital.”
  1. What’s the next step for your social enterprise?
“The next step in our journey is to double down further on our environmental efforts. We’re working on a few initiatives that will give us better metrics and reporting, and will allow us to benchmark our impact on a unit basis.” 
  1. What’s your ultimate dream for your social enterprise?
“Our ultimate dream is to grow the company and brand to be a household name, here in Canada to start. We want to raise the standard for what Canadian’s should expect when buying clothes, and they should expect to be making an impact with every purchase.”

Five Questions From Funders*:

  1. When was a time someone showed you compassion and empathy?
“We had messed up on a customer’s order. The garment was defective and it missed it in quality control. They weren’t rude, they weren’t impatient. They wanted to help us get better. They communicated in a positive manner and gave us the opportunity to make things right for them.” 
  1. When you look at your origin story, what are the small moments you look back on fondly?
“All of it. It has been such an incredible experience. One highlight our team has experienced is getting to know so many other community builders in Calgary. From starting with an idea, to staying up until 2AM labeling clothing only to be at the post office the next morning for hours, getting orders out.”  
  1. In what ways has your social enterprise been reshaped by community needs?
“Initially, our focus was on celebrating local and building community. However, the more time we spent in the garment industry, the more clear it became how much damage the industry was causing. Our business has changed as a result of this.”
  1. How has your social impact evolved from what you originally envisioned?
“We envisioned ourselves building community locally and giving back to local charities, but never envisioned ourselves as being in a position to provide products that would allow others to reach their own environmental and social governance goals.” 
  1. If you had to describe it in one sentence, what is the “why” behind your mission?
“To build a socially conscious community. We care about the relationships we make with the people and stakeholders who interact and are affected by Local Laundry.” 

*The local funders that provided questions are:


More About the Pivot on Purpose Summit (POP): POP, occurring November 18-20, 2021, is a free, virtual gathering that aspires to be the next step in a movement to reimagine the power of business models to solve social problems. POP is held in collaboration with the Trico Charitable Foundation (TCF), the NU Community Board, and the Canadian Sustainable Finance Network. Registration is open now.

POP Highlights Include:

Tariq Fancy, former CIO for sustainability investing at BlackRock Alex Edmans, author of Grow the Pie: How Great Companies Deliver both Purpose and Profit R. Edward Freeman, the thought leader many regard as founder of stakeholder capitalism
21 Canadian social entrepreneurs  Spotlight on Scotland, a world-leader in nurturing social entrepreneurship with initiatives including a 30 million Third Sector Growth Fund And much more! 
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