Joshua Shaffer: Where are you from and what led you to JPCatholic?
Connor McLaughlin: So, I am from everywhere and nowhere since my dad was in the military. At first we spent most of our time in Germany. We spent 8 years living there. Then I lived in Kansas, Georgia, North Carolina, and Alabama. My family is currently in Virginia where my dad retired doing contract work for the government.
Since I’m a transfer student I was originally at Belmont Abbey College studying theology with minors in psychology and entrepreneurship. But a lot of stuff had happened with disagreements with the administration. Also, I wasn’t really interested in business until I took an entrepreneurship class and that got me hooked. I was also getting bored with theology classes so I thought that I should go somewhere that focuses more on business. The funny thing is that I never actually visited or saw this school before now. I didn’t feel like going to any of the other schools I could’ve gone to so I knew I had to move to California.
JS: So your main goal from coming to this school is to finish your business major?
CM: Effectively, yeah. I want to major in business but this June I want to make my company public. In June we’re opening orders for my product. So I don’t just want to be able to [just] get my degree but I also want to be in the right spot to grow my business.
JS: What are a couple of the past business ventures you have explored?
CM: A few years ago in January I was at the big Focus conference called Seek. I met a guy named Andy Ciastko and he had new product coming out called Catholic Tshirt Club. It was basically a box subscription service but for Catholics with a tshirt and sacramentals. Think of it as a Loot Crate for Catholics. I thought it was the most brilliant idea. I started doing some unboxings of them on Youtube. Now we’ve been going forever and the business is worth a good bit.
Recently though, I’ve been doing a lot of traveling. Over the summer I spent three weeks in Ireland with Christendom College shooting a video of their Ireland program. Last week I was in Rome with LifeSiteNews at a conference. That’s not as much of a business venture. It was to help me grow my personal brand.
JS: You had mentioned another company you started called TorchBearer Ministries. Can you talk more about that?
CM: TorchBearer Ministries is a brain child I had back in January when my little sister was going through [her] Confirmation. My mom texted me saying the program she was using was a non-denominational garbage program. When she said that, I spent hours just looking for something that met my criteria. Since I was a homeschooler and am very devout in my faith, I wanted to find something for my sister that was solid. Something that actually helps her grow and not just hearing how God loves you so there’s no need to worry. That doesn’t teach you anything.
Anyways I couldn’t find anything. LifeTeen wasn’t good enough. Ascension Press didn’t have anything super good. I didn’t know what to do at all so I went to the chapel and prayed for the Lord to show me what to do. And God was like, “Just do one.” I was like I don’t want to do that because that’s really hard and church businesses never go anywhere. But I felt like he just kept asking me to do it so I guess I had to do it. So TorchBearer Ministries is a youth minstry curriculum and research development company. It specializes in a 4 year youth ministry curriculum where it starts with someone in 9th grade.
The idea is for them to discover why they actually care about God because unless you know that then nothing else matters. The hope is that by the end of the four years they are ready to go into either a Catholic or secular college and be a dynamic force for evangelism where ever they are. I also have a team of speakers where we run retreats and do training for music ministries, core team, and youth ministers. I think there are eight people including myself on the team. It’s all college students or right out of college students. So it’s basically college students writing a program for their younger siblings. We are writing something that we know will affect our peers.
JS: Are you trying to grow this into a national or even a international business?
CM: I plan on being a big competition for LifeTeen. LifeTeen has no competition that is a real competition. There [are] companies that get into the field but their main field is somewhere else. I basically want to compete against LifeTeen. In 3-5 years I want to have retreat centers all over the country. I want have a recording studio for Catholic Christian artists. I want to have a production team just doing Catholic films and movies. I just want to create something that is all the goodness we could have.