*Editor’s Note: Cicley Gay was the EAST COBBER 2013 Mother of the Year. Learn more about Cicley and her family HERE.
With all of the necessary equipment that’s needed, lacrosse can become an expensive sport, and Malik Gay knew it.
That’s likely why Malik never approached his mother, Cicley, about playing the sport. But when one of his best friends in the family’s east Cobb neighborhood said he was moving, Malik got an idea.
The friend wanted to sell the equipment to a sporting goods store that specialized in selling used equipment. Instead, Malik convinced his friend to give the lacrosse gear to him.
With the equipment in hand, Malik raced home to show it off to his mom.
“My mom didn’t know what it was,” Malik said. “It was a pretty funny moment because she hadn’t seen that stuff before.”
Malik, then a fifth-grader at Mt. Bethel Christian Academy, started throwing against a wall to practice and got to know more about lacrosse on his own.
While it’s positioned as one of the fastest growing sports in America, Malik found a scarcity of lacrosse services in his area and eventually came up with another idea.
“There are no stringing shops or lacrosse stores where I live,” he said. “They’re in Roswell, Kennesaw and Smyrna. So, I thought it would be a good idea to start a business where kids don’t have to go so far to string a stick.
“Plus, I wanted to help my mom pay for my lacrosse lessons and equipment because it’s an expensive game.”
Malik used various resources to learn how to string sticks, and he started stringing for his friends and other budding players his age, and the business grew from there.
Malik taught his younger brother, Micah, how to play lacrosse when he was 8 years old.
“I fell in love with it like he did,” Micah said.
Soon, Micah joined in on Malik’s business as artistic director, dyeing sticks to suit customers’ requests.
“He needed help on dyeing, so I did it,” Micah said. “It’s really cool to work with my brother and help with the business. I’m really artistic and I’m drawn to that part of it. I don’t do any stringing.”
With their mother as the operations manager, the brothers founded an online lacrosse stringing business — LaxLik Stringing Company — in 2012.
“At first, they had a pay-when-you-can policy when they started,” Cicley Gay said. “I talked to them about profit margins, setting prices, overhead, inventory and other things.”
Incorporated in 2013, the company has even received endorsements from Major League Lacrosse player Jovan Miller, as well as four-time MLL All-Star and former NCAA player of the year Kyle Harrison.
“Me and my little brother went to a training session with Jovan Miller and he liked the head that I had strung and gave me an endorsement,” Malik said. “I met Kyle at a game, and he liked what I was doing, too.”
Malik received his master stringer certification from the National Lacrosse Stick Stringers Institute in March 2013.
“It blows my mind to think how this hobby they had has turned into something to support their passion,” Cicley Gay said. “Their knowledge amazes me. They watched videos on YouTube and got certified. I’m just so proud that they do something positive and are already setting themselves up for the future.
“Lacrosse is such an expensive sport. I’m a single mom and they couldn’t afford to play otherwise. They support their own activity through this amazing company.”
The brothers operate the business out of a room in the basement of their home. With Malik doing the stringing, and Micah dyeing the heads, it takes a little over an hour to finish the job. Then, Malik tests the stick it to make sure it’s legal and to the specifications of the player.
“Whatever the customer wants,” Malik said.
The brothers typically string three heads per week during the offseason, and six heads per week during the spring and summer —the peak seasons for lacrosse.
“They’ve been in business for over a year now,” Cicley said. “They turned a profit in their first year — making about $6,000 last year — and they’re on track to make $10,000 this year. Malik and Micah string and deliver custom lacrosse sticks faster than anyone else in the area.”
As the operations manager, Cicley makes sure the company stays in the black.
“I ensure that they save some of (the profits), and a portion of the proceeds goes to a charitable organization called Fields of Growth, which goes to help under-resourced children learn about lacrosse. I’m also the driver, delivering sticks to customers, and whatever else they need me to do.
“Whatever money is made usually goes right back into the business or helps to buy them their own lacrosse equipment and training. They keep themselves busy with this and school.”
The LaxLik website — www.LaxLik.com — shows much of the brothers’ handiwork, and the company has also took the social media to promote its work.
Malik, now a 13-year-old eighth-grader, and 9-year-old Micah don’t anticipate slowing down anytime soon.
“I’m not surprised the business is doing well,” Malik said. “At least I hoped it would do well. I’m striving to be the best stringer, and known all across the country, and we’re going to keep doing it as long as God wants us to.”
(Reprinted from the Marietta Daily Journal. Written by Carlton D. White, March 3, 2014. Read more: The Marietta Daily Journal – East Cobb brothers masters of lacrosse equipment)