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Lacey Conine | Changing hockey culture with Double Hockey Stix

Lacey Conine is changing the game by pushing the boundaries of hockey culture through the brand Double Hockey Stix, and we’re honoured to have DHS as an MVP herCommunity member.

“We aren’t afraid to push the boundaries of what is generally accepted as “hockey culture.” We’re edgy, loud, and we think our opinions about growing a more inclusive sport are important. We don’t take ourselves too seriously with our designs and products, however, when it comes to the causes we support, we do!”

Who is Lacey? How did you first fall in love with sports and what’s been your journey to where you are today?

WHEW! What a question! I used to think that “Lacey” was the amalgamation of things, people, and places that I loved, but while recovering from a traumatic brain injury throughout 2020-2022, I realized that I’m so much more than that.

In my purest form, I’m silly, happy, quirky, unique, loud, loving, passionate. In my deeply human, and thus inherently flawed form, I’m blunt, opinionated, fearful, proud, obnoxious, annoying, divisive, ferocious, angry. What can I say – I’m complex! 

Through this journey with the TBI, I learned that I am not really even those things, however. My emotions and my big feels aren’t even really me. I think I’m just forever changing and chipping away at all the layers until at the end of it all, I find out who I really am.

When I was recovering from my TBI, I was in a recovery program and the people in my program knew nothing about me aside from the fact that I was using the program to recover with them. We weren’t allowed to speak about our diagnoses or symptoms. I had nothing but tons of severe chronic and mystery illnesses that left me bedridden and isolated, and yet, the folks in my program knew these things about me: I loved people, I loved networking, I loved love, and what I loved, I was passionate about.

That’s who I am. Just a person full of love who wants to connect with people, connect people with other people and resources, and wants to make a difference.

I found hockey deep in my recovery journey at the beginning of 2021-2022 Season. I was just barely beginning to leave my home again (not from fear of Covid, but from being limited to mainly my bedroom while healing) and we decided to go to a pre-season Anaheim Ducks hockey game for $3.

During that game, my life changed. I had been to Honda Center before and had seen hockey games before. It was never anything other than a social thing with friends and going for the snacks, to be honest! But this time was different. This time, all I could concentrate on was the puck and what must be going through these guys’ minds as they skate, and do all the quick fast-paced maneuvers that they do! (Presently, when I tell this story, my male hockey friends like to tell me “What’s going through our heads when we play? NOTHING!” hah-hah) It was the first time in almost two years I focused on something besides being ill.

In my program, we were supposed to have a hobby to keep our brains neuroplastic for the recovery process. Up until that point in my journey, I was too sick to take up any new hobbies, but I was finally in a place where I felt like I could learn hockey, from a fan perspective, easily. I figured I’d never been into organized sports really my entire life, so there was no way this would become my entire personality…. right?

…… Fast Forward to today where I’m an Anaheim Ducks season ticket holder and run a hockey clothing brand…..

I’ve been involved with clothing and fashion since I was 15. I got a job at Zumiez skate shop a week before I turned 16, and I worked there until I was 31 years old. At my highest position at 31, I was the district manager of Orange County and oversaw seven stores. Clothing and thus skateboarding has always been in my life, and that’s really the only other area of my life that was consumed with sport. Skateboarding is so different from professional organized sports though (and some skaters will still claim it’s not a sport, but I digress), and honestly, when I got into hockey, it shared similarities that draw me to it; both sports are fringe, both sports destroy the body more-so than a lot of other sports, it’s fast-paced, and there’s a lot of self-policing within both communities.

Being a woman growing up in a male-dominated industry (and world, really) was really fun. I worked hard, played harder, and was always right up there with the men. Maybe that’s why stepping into the world of sports and fashion again at 36 hasn’t been all that taxing – I’ve been doing this my whole life. Maybe I was working up toward this the whole time?

Tell us about Double Hockey Stix! Where did the drive to create this brand come from and what impact do you hope to make?

DHS honestly started as sort of a joke for my closest queer hockey friends (Hi Jesties!). It was never meant to be anything serious, or go anywhere, or even have social media attached to it. No one was ever really supposed to see it. It was just for fun. But the day I launched the brand, I had more orders than I knew what to do with and I just thought, “Oh fuck, I might actually have something here.” I immediately started to shift things and turn it from being a tiny fandom secret to a broader audience, which included rebranding like, the first week I existed!

Double Hockey Stix

The brand is edgy and will always push the limits of gender, who “should” play in hockey, how the hockey world views and treats minority fans, and how to make noise as such a fan, simply because that’s who I am as a person and those things will always end up in my designs. I’m really passionate about helping communities I care about such as the queer community, BIPOC folks, neurodivergent and disabled folks, women and women-adjacent people, fat folks, etc. so I strive to make relevant clothing for those folks as well as want to impact those communities with networking and monetary resources when I can. I’m big on nonprofits, local and small artists, and collaborations with those types of people and organizations.

Now, because of my prior history as a social justice advocate, large event organizer, networker, and philanthropist, I can bring those things into DHS because I am actually taking it seriously (even though the entire brand is mainly super silly and fun!)

How can people support DHS and/or get involved?

DHS is so much more than just a clothing brand, it’s a movement.

I love connecting with like-minded people, I love uplifting other people and I love allowing my success to be other people’s successes. I want to collaborate, I want to work together, I want to create fun and unique things. If you are an artist, nonprofit, or resonate with anything I’ve said here and are hockey-related, we should work together!

Right now I think it’s also about authentic branding and authentic marketing. I hate algorithms and paid advertisements (which, I will eventually use at some point, just to be real), and I hate fake influencer BS. I want real authentic people who are fans wearing my products and promoting them on social media, in their local hockey communities and markets, and with their friends. If you like what we’re doing at DHS, please SHARE IT!

You recently were involved in designing Pride Night and Women In Sports shirts for the Anaheim Ducks. Can you tell us about that experience and what it meant for you and the brand?

As I worked on my second project with the Ducks, their Women in Sports Night merch for March 24th, 2024, I am still in a somewhat state of shock that I’m even doing this?

People ask me all the time how this project came about, and I honestly tell people “I don’t fucking know.”

Even though that’s a joke, and it gets laughs, I think what it comes down to is that I’m just authentic and passionate, and my entire life, that has caused the right people to find me.

I only had the brand for two months when the Ducks approached me to do their Pride merch, and honestly, they couldn’t have made it easier. There are people in the Ducks organization that want the same change that me/DHS wants and they are TRYING and PUSHING.

Double Hockey Stix

I knew I wanted to work with them when the initial meeting I sat down for, the first item on my list was the very first thing they brought up unpromoted – they told me I didn’t have to make literal pride merch for them, they just wanted ME as a creator and what I brought. That brought me so much relief and freedom, because DHS isn’t a queer hockey brand – it’s a hockey brand run by a queer creator, so of course those things are going to be prevalent and present in my brand. It’s who I am. But sometimes Pride merch can feel hokey or icky with rainbow dollars and corporate greed. I didn’t want to be a part of that. I wanted to be represented by who and what my brand is – fun, quirky, loud, big, bold. And that’s exactly what they allowed me to design with the two shirts I made for them!

Ducks organization is doing the work by supporting, hiring, and ultimately paying queer creators for their work. It’s not just rainbow dollars wrapped up in a pride tee. It’s something unique and different and it’s pushing boundaries I want to see more of in Orange County.

It was a surreal and beautiful experience, and I never thought my brand would ever be on any NHL team’s radar, let alone my favorite team. It was just such a honor, and so humbling. This brand is kind of the antithesis to the NHL, so for a team to “get it” just blows my mind and makes me emotional.

Then to be able to work with them again for women in sports night was just such a journey for me as a genderqueer person. I had some imposter syndrome with it, but I realized I was treated like a CIS-woman my entire life, so I might as well open the door they were offering me the key to and get my foot in to allow others the same access behind me. All in all, just a dream come true, a great organization to work with, and I hope to collaborate with them more in the future if they’ll have me.

What’s your best advice to people who are a part of communities that feel hockey culture often overlooks or alienates them?

Do what you can. Take care of yourself first. You fucking matter. Don’t let anyone push you out of something you belong to.

If you want to see change and you are capable of it – do something about it. Start a brand, start a website, start a blog, start a social media page to share resources. Organize rallies, show up to events, be seen, be heard, take up space.

DON’T do these things if you are ill, tired, exhausted, or physically/mentally unable to do so!!!! You do not need to be the fixer of what is wrong systemically within sport.

You showing up and being involved in the first place, in ANY CAPACITY, is important.

YOU belong here. YOU belong here. YOU belong here.

The pushback and alienation only come from people’s fear that others are going to take up the space they feel entitled to and push them out of the limelight, the opportunities, the experiences. The truth is, that is such small-brained, fear-based thinking – there is so much room in the world for all of us to coexist in spaces and there’s MORE than enough room, money, time, trainers, people, fans, friends, etc. for all of us to have access to. It’s unlimited really.

I love the analogy of going into a grocery store and looking at all the bread options – there are hundreds of brands of bread companies, and yet…. they all exist on the same shelves, each doing their thing, making money, doing just fine.

There is enough for all of us. Believe that. Collaboration over competition, always.

What advice do you have for women in sports who are passionate about starting a brand or organization to change the game in some way but might be afraid to take their shot?

DO IT. DO IT. DO IT.

But how?

Just. Fucking. Start.

Google, research, reach out to a friend, ask questions, email people, follow people on Instagram and other social media who are doing what you want to do, engulf yourself in inspiration and resources – we are in the AGE of information and you can find answers to anything EVERYWHERE.

If you don’t do it, someone else will. And they’re not more qualified or better than you – they just took the first step. You can do that too!

You WILL have support, you CAN do it, people WANT what you want to create.

You have to believe that!

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