Shirt brand reminds people to breathe with short film

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IN a world full of fear and uncertainties, shirt company Linya-Linya reminds people to take a moment to breathe in its new short film Kalmahan Mo Lang.

“Linya-Linya is not just a shirt brand — we’re content creators aiming to connect to fellow Filipinos, bring joy, and provide inspiration and hope. Especially now. We want to tell our countrymen that they are not alone in being alone. We are together in all adversities and together we will get through this,” Ali Sangalang, the company’s creative director, told BusinessWorld in an e-mail on May 17.

The brand is known for its distinctly Filipino designs incorporating Filipino snacks and witty colloquialisms like a shirt that read “Babangon ako. At matutulog muli” (I will rise. Then go back to sleep).

(Mr. Sangalang wrote his responses in both English and Filipino and this article translated all his Filipino answers to English.)

The four-minute film was released on May 16 and contains breathing exercises for people who need to calm down and a reminder that they need to rest and breathe.

“We started the project [in] early April, and it took us over a month to complete everything and launch the film. The completion and editing of the script took time, since we knew that we are all in a very sensitive situation, and we must be mindful of the words that we’ll use, and the content that we’ll release. The illustration, animation, and overall production also took time since we wanted to produce the best material we could possibly create in this collaboration,” Mr. Sangalang said.

The film was created with Highball Studios, Studio V, and Hit Productions. It took 27 people working from home to complete the project.

And because the response was “overwhelming” — Mr. Sangalang said that there’s a clamor from their “community” to create more animations — they are “considering turning this to a series, and create more videos, along with the daily content from our social media pages.”

As of this writing, the video has had more than 41,800 views and thousands of shares. Mr. Sangalang said that in less than a day, “the film had already reached 120,000 people on Facebook.”

The message of the film also resonated with the company as he admitted that the past few months have been “really tough for a small brand and business like us.”

“Due to ECQ (enhanced community quarantine), we’re unable to sell products as our physical stores are still closed. Work for our operations and sales staff has been postponed, while maintaining a skeleton workforce for our online store and social media pages,” he said before adding they were also “exhausting all efforts” to provide cash assistance to their affected employees.

All seven physical stores were closed and the quarantine measures stalled the brand’s plans to open two more this year.

“For the first few weeks of the lockdown where transportation was prohibited, we had zero sales. It hurt. Thankfully, when select areas became serviceable for deliveries, we were able to generate a good amount of sales. Our very loyal customers and fanbase are really helping us keep the business afloat,” Mr. Sangalang said, adding that they had to rely mostly on online sales via the store.

The pandemic has made him and his partner Jim Bacarro think about how to move forward with the business.

“For now, we’re rethinking our move to open more physical stores. We’ll continue to develop our website and improve our e-commerce. Our very talented creatives team will continue to create relevant and quality Filipino content. We believe that connecting to more Filipinos — making them smile, sparking hope, and inspiring them amidst the pandemic — will keep the brand and the business alive,” he said.

But in the end, he said, the most important question is “who will you be when this ends?”

“Even through struggles, I believe we can learn a lot of things from this: the Filipino will grow stronger and tougher. This will push us to be smarter, more creative, and hopefully, more compassionate towards ourselves, each other, and the country,” he said. — Zsarlene B. Chua