How 'For The Love of LA' is Helping Local Businesses Recover from Covid-19
Meghan Lai is creative copywriter who splits her time between Hawaii, where she grew up, and Los Angeles, where she currently works and lives. Coming up on her second year at R/GA CA, she has worked on clients like Oprah’s Book Club, Quaker Oats, and the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. In her spare time, she likes to take photos of her friends, bake cakes, and experiment with Japanese nail art.
Here, she talks us to us about For The Love of LA - an initiative aimed at helping local businesses recover from the economic burdens of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Q> What inspired you to start For the Love of LA?
Meghan> For the Love of LA originally began as the Los Angeles branch of Merch Aid, but due to matters out of our control, R/GA was unable to continue Merch Aid LA. At the time, we had already committed to helping our businesses. Hence, a former LA employee (Audrey Tyau), my friend (Simon Calem), and I decided to continue the initiative as an independent project.
Q> What was it like building out this initiative and starting For the Love of LA?
Meghan> It was tough, not going to lie. We started with a larger entity’s support, and then it shrank to an independent three-person show. We all juggle full-time jobs but seeing this project through to the end is important to us – the time and effort invested is well worth it knowing we’ll be able to help boost and support small local businesses, even if by just a little.
Q> Tell us more about how For the Love of LA helps small businesses?
Meghan> Like Merch Aid, For the Love of LA creates merch for small businesses by pairing them with local artists and designers. All proceeds go directly to the businesses. Out of the approximately 3.7 million small businesses in CA, only about 3% of them received help from the Paycheck Protection Program, so there was a need for financial assistance in CA and LA.
We’re also working with two small locally owned screen printing shops to fulfill all the orders.
Q> How did you overcome any challenges getting For the Love of LA off the ground; can you share what some of them have been?
Meghan> To start, every timeline we had doubled (or more) because of COVID. I was in-between Hawaii (where I’m from– wasn’t there for vacation) and Los Angeles since the beginning of the pandemic while my project partners were still in LA. While we struggled with the time difference and sorting out production needs from afar, we also had the prints’ quality to worry about, which could only be judged in person.
Because we’re committed to the highest quality product possible, we utilised screen printing to print the shirts rather than using a DTG (direct-to-garment) process. With screen printing, you can get more vibrant colours in your prints though it takes a bit of finessing to get your desired print– it’s more of an art than a science.
For example, the Demonslayer x Chewing Foil shirt specifically took a lot of trial and error to get to the final print. Every design needs to be separated into layers which will become individual screens used for the print. Because the fidelity and detail is so high, it took several attempts to divide the artwork and replicate the design on the shirt in a way that did it justice. However, every new screen attempt costs money, and we were working off a low-budget, so we couldn’t afford to make many mistakes.
Also, we wanted to make sure we gave back to the community as much as possible. One of the ways we did this was by employing the work of a Black-owned screen printing business called TNT Printing Co based out of Inglewood, and by purchasing all of our blanks through Everybody World, a company known for their commitment to paying fair wages, to pushing boundaries in textile sustainability, and to collaborating with local creative minds to make exciting and high-quality clothing.
Q> What's been the most rewarding part of starting this initiative?
Meghan> Knowing we’re able to directly help them out in a time of social and financial instability. Really just continuing our commitment to our community and these businesses.
Q> What are your thoughts on turning current challenges into an opportunity?
Meghan> I wouldn’t say this is an opportunity we took, we’re simply continuing on a promise that was made.