Michelle LeMoignan is a beer league hockey player (who started playing in her 20s) by night and an entrepreneur by day in Edmonton, Alberta.
MEET MICHELLE LEMOIGNAN
Who is Michelle?!
I’m a born and raised Edmontonian. For as long as I can remember I’ve always had a passion for business. Straight out of high school I started a clothing line called Angel Venom, which was inspired by my time playing drums for a couple of all girl rock bands in my late teens. We shipped our clothing and accessories all over the world during a time when the internet was still somewhat limited. At 25, I took a leap in another direction and opened a cupcake/cake shop called Flirt Cupcakes. The business grew quickly and it’s what I spend a large portion of my time on these days.
Other than working and watching/playing hockey, I spend a lot of time outside tracking wild life with my camera. It’s a hobby I took up after a neck/head injury during a game a few years ago. I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to play again so I needed to find something that gave me that similar present-moment feeling that hockey gave me. Thankfully, I was able to get back onto the ice but my photography hobby came in handy once Covid hit and rec hockey was cancelled.
I also spend a lot of time volunteering with local animal rescues and taking on my own rescue missions – especially during the colder months of winter. My latest rescue (Feral Williams) has become a part of our family and inspires me to help the cats that no one thinks are worth rescuing.
How did you get into hockey?
Hockey has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. The Edmonton Oilers were like a religion in my household growing up. Some of my favourite childhood memories are from sitting around the television with my family, watching the Oilers play. My brother played competitively and my dad coached, but ironically, I didn’t pick up organized hockey until later in life. I was a busy teenager, spending most of my time playing the drums, as well as other sports like basketball and cheerleading.
In my early 20s I knew I wanted to finally play but I wasn’t sure there was anything in Edmonton for adult women. I understood the game well and spent a lot of time at the outdoor rink playing shinny during the winters, but aside from that, my experience playing was pretty nil. I decided to start with the basic fundamentals and found a hockey camp through High Tempo and nervously registered for it. At the time, I was shy and suffering from a serious lack of self-confidence. But through that camp I met other women who were starting later in life too. It was the reminder I needed, that we all have to start somewhere. That was the beginning of something amazing that would end up dominating a large portion of my adult life.
What does hockey mean to you?
Hockey to me is a big part of the equation to feeling happy and fulfilled in life. Throughout my 20s I was working my way through an anxiety/panic disorder and I know without a doubt that hockey helped me to overcome those. When I’m playing hockey, I’m present and in the moment. You put your equipment on and you’re no longer your worries or your fears. You’re not thinking about yesterday or tomorrow – you’re focused on one thing and one thing only – playing the game. It’s great for the mind, body and soul!
What advice do you have for other women who want to continue playing hockey as adults?
Keep playing! There’s an entire other side of hockey as an adult. You’ll continue to build confidence, keep active, make new friends and take on experiences you never thought possible! And if you’re an adult who’s never played but are considering taking up the sport, I promise you that it’s never too late to learn something new! I once played with a woman who was in her 50s when she decided she wanted to learn how to play hockey, and not just as a player – as a goalie! She was amazing to watch and a testament to the fact that hockey is for everyone!
You went to Austria to represent Canada with the Peace Country Canadians for the World Masters. What was that experience like?
It was by far, the coolest experience of my life. Keep in mind that I’m a rec player and have never played at a level beyond that. The team was compiled of women who mostly played university and some overseas professionally. I took a chance and reached out to the team when they had a spot open up last minute. I tried out for the team at a tournament in Dawson Creek late in 2019 and within weeks was on a plane to Innsbruck, Austria to play with them for the World Winter Masters.
I didn’t know anyone on the team and yet, I felt like I had known them my entire life. Hockey will do that – it’s an anchor that brings people together. The tournament itself, was nothing short of amazing. The International Master Games Association pulled out all the stops from the Olympic Village to the private chauffeurs to the amazing facilities – it didn’t feel real.
I ran into some challenges when my hockey equipment didn’t arrive in Innsbruck with me. It arrived three days later, an hour before our first game. I’ll never forget getting the phone call from the airline saying it had arrived. They put me in contact with the courier who would be bringing it to the arena but there was a language barrier so rather than explain anything he just sent me a text with a single race car emoji. That was the best text message I’ve ever received in my life!
We went undefeated in the tournament and I hit a personal record with a four-goal game for our semi-finals. The gold medal game was the closest game of the tournament and so stressful, but we managed to pull off a win and take home gold! It was an amazing feat, especially for our team captain who I later learned had been battling brain cancer just five years prior and wasn’t sure she’d ever play again. I will forever cherish the memories I have from that trip and with those women. I’m so grateful that hockey brought that opportunity into my life.
What’s the best advice you can offer fellow entrepreneurs or those considering starting a business?
You have to believe in yourself and your product. Like really, truly believe in it. Without that, you’ll crumble by the first or second road block (and trust me, there will be many more of those to come). There’ll be long days, long weeks and long months, and when others can call in for a mental health day, you have to keep going regardless. It definitely takes some sacrifice. There’s no set hours and you’ll more than likely take your work home with you no matter how hard you try to avoid it.
I hope I haven’t scared you away! On the flip side, you have full creative control over your project! You get to witness your vision take on a life of its own and personally see the output of your input. The sky is the limit! Entrepreneurship is a way of life that unless you live it, you likely won’t fully understand. It takes a lot of blood, sweat and tears as well as a leap of faith, but it can be one of the most rewarding career paths to go down. Just remember that if you have an idea, you don’t need to have all the answers right off get go. The most important thing is taking the first step – you can figure out the rest as you go!
How do you balance your late-night beer league games with running a business?
I told myself when I opened up Flirt that I would avoid sacrificing my personal life as much as possible. Let me be clear – as much as I’ve tried, I’m just not a morning person. There have been many days I’ve worked on little sleep but playing hockey is so important to my mental health that missing it is a non-negotiable. I’m grateful to work with some amazing women who excel in the mornings at Flirt (much better than I do). I happily stay and work late if it means being able to sleep in until seven most days. Others I play with aren’t so fortunate though, some don’t get home until 1am and are up at 5am for work. Those are the true beer league heroes!