From Pro Hockey Player to the Fashion industry – how Pat Mullane is helping State and Liberty become a top consumer brand

Author: Thomas Waind, for PHPA.com @twaind4
Date: Nov 30, 2017

The men’s fashion industry is cutthroat and constantly changing. Trends shift, big labels have immense resources, and buyers can be very loyal to their current brands. It is a tough climate for any start-up to even enter the industry let alone succeed. That’s what makes the success of State and Liberty Clothing Company all the more impressive.

Founded by University of Michigan graduates Lee Moffie and Steven Fisher, State and Liberty has succeeded in targeting and reaching the male athlete demographic with their high-end dress apparel specifically tailored to the physique and shape of athletic men.

When Moffie and Fisher founded the company in 2015 they had found a market niche that had not been fully explored.  Just two years after starting the company, the State and Liberty brand has taken off and is being worn by many pro athletes.  After just a quick skim of their website you will find testimonials from athletes such as NHLers Cody Ceci, Ryan Callahan, Carl Hagelin and Matt Belesky, Canadian Olympian and NHL All-Star Jeff Carter, and star pitcher for the New York Mets Noah Syndergaard.

The rapid success and ascent of the State and Liberty brand has brought the company more exposure. One key cog in the State and Liberty machine that may not get as much attention or fanfare as the company continues to rise is Moffie’s childhood friend and recently retired professional hockey player Pat Mullane.

Mullane is a product of the Boston College business school and an Eagles hockey program in which he played four memorable seasons for the maroon and gold.  Mullane enrolled at Boston College after an impressive 2008-09 campaign with the USHL’s Omaha Lancer where he racked up 57 points in 54 games.  Playing for the Boston College Eagles had been a lifelong dream of his and to see this dream come to fruition was thrilling for both Mullane and his family.

“Growing up my family had some strong ties to BC,” Mullane explains. “It was always a place where I wanted to go and where I felt comfortable. When the opportunity presented itself, even with a couple of other schools in the picture, in the back of my mind I knew if there was a chance to play at Boston College I would take it.”

During his time at Boston College, Mullane registered 139 points in 163 games, helping the Eagles capture the Hockey East Conference in 2010, 2011, and 2012, and played a key role when the team won two NCAA championships in 2010 and 2012. During Mullane’s tenure at Boston College, those high-octane Eagles teams featured plenty of NHL talents such as Cam Atkinson, Ben Smith, Jimmy Hayes, Kevin Hayes, Chris Kreider, Brian Dumoulin, Tommy Cross, Bill Arnold, and Johnny Gaudreau.  While the accolades were plentiful, Mullane’s memories of those teams were less about winning and more about who he was winning with.

“I think what made it so special was the group of guys. Obviously you don’t make it that far without a quality group of guys that believe in each other. We were pretty talented hockey players, but I think more importantly it was a great group to go to the locker room with each and every day and hang out with outside of the rink. The championships and the titles are something that I’m very fortunate for, but the memories and relationships I made from that team is more important. It’s a group of guys that I still stay in touch with today. Now that I’m retired I spend most of my weekends with them and for the guys that are still playing I still see them pretty much every day in the summer.”

When all was said and done, Mullane was named Captain of the Eagles for the 2012-13 season. In what ended up being his final year at Boston College, Mullane tallied an impressive 43 points in 38 games. Despite going undrafted in previous seasons, Mullane’s sterling college resume garnered some NHL interest. In particular, the Chicago Blackhawks made a strong push for the young forward.

“After my junior year at Boston College I went to Chicago’s prospect camp. That was right after we had won the National Championship. I had a good camp and was pretty close to signing a contract. I ended up not signing because I was adamant about finishing my degree, but we did agree to stay in touch throughout the season.”

By the end of his senior season, the Blackhawks offered Mullane a contract for the 2013-14 season. What helped ease him into the Blackhawks organization and the professional hockey lifestyle were the friendly faces of former BC Eagles teammates Ben Smith, Jimmy Hayes and Mike Brennan. This group provided a comfortable supporting cast to lean on and helped ease Mullane to life after college.

After a slow rookie season that saw him play 46 games for the Blackhawks’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs as well as 13 games for the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL, Mullane’s NHL aspirations had taken a hit. At the conclusion of the season he didn’t sign another contract with Chicago and instead looked to catch on with the Reading Royals in the ECHL. In what ended up being his last professional season in North America, Mullane was thoroughly impressed by the cohesiveness of that Royals team.

“Everyone in the ECHL is working to move up,” Mullane explains. “There are teams and players that you run into that can be very self-interested in that they want to get to the next level, whether that is the American League or the NHL. But in my time in Reading I played with a group of guys that wanted to get better and move on to the next level, but didn’t do it at the expense of their teammates. That’s a unique trait that is tough to find in minor league sports. Guys were genuinely looking out for each other and were in it for the right reasons.”

Despite an impressive 23 goal, 62 point 2014-15 season with the Royals, Mullane felt that his shot at the NHL had passed.  As he put it, “I think I understood that I was not an NHL player, and I was okay with that. I was disappointed but realized that I wasn’t an NHL player because of my skating ability, or lack of skating ability, and my body frame.”

Equipped with an Economics degree from Boston College and a passion for finance, economics and business, Mullane was well equipped for a career beyond hockey. But before he could hang up the skates, he wanted to use his hockey career as an opportunity to experience Europe.

Mullane ended up playing the 2015-16 season with Ässät of the Finnish Liiga where he got the chance to see some of Finland’s best young talent up close and personal when Ässät matched up against the likes of Patrik Laine, Sebastian Aho, and Jesse Puljujärvi.  He would then play his final professional hockey games last year with HC Karlovy Vary of the Czech League. When reflecting on his time in Europe, Mullane appreciates the thrill of living out of his comfort zone and experiencing other cultures.

“At the rink there was definitely an adjustment. Walking into the locker room and for the first time in your life the majority of guys don’t speak your language and understand your jokes. You have to respect that you’re in a different country and you don’t want to put down their culture because they’re welcoming you into their locker room. At the end of the day a hockey locker room is a hockey locker room whether you’re in America, Finland, or the Czech Republic.”

However, it was in Mullane’s last few seasons of pro hockey where he reconnected with his childhood best friend Lee Moffie to discuss life after hockey. The two became instant friends when Mullane’s father coached the two at the Mite A level at age six in Wallingford, Connecticut. After a decade of playing on the same teams and hanging out at each other’s houses after practices, the two eventually went their separate ways when they entered the USHL.  Moffie went on to play for the Waterloo Black Hawks and later the University of Michigan Wolverines, while Mullane would play for the Omaha Lancers and eventually for Boston College.

The two kept in touch and it was Moffie who sought out Mullane’s’s advice in the midst of an internship at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. “Lee called me saying, ‘Pat this corporate nine to five just isn’t working for me. I want to start something on my own.’ He then laid out this elaborate plan which eventually became State and Liberty. I told him ‘Go and run with it!’ I’ll never forget that conversation.”

While he was playing for Reading, Mullane would receive prototype shirts from Moffie for his Royals teammates to try on and test.  From there Mullane was brought into the fold with the goal of helping to grow the brand in any way that he could.

Since his retirement over the summer, Mullane has been busy and almost immediately jumped right in to work for State and Liberty in several different roles. He has served as the brand’s liaison with the Professional Hockey Players’ Association (PHPA) to enlist the help of AHL and ECHL players to become brand ambassadors. During the summer, he is the man to call for wedding attire and custom groomsmen orders.  Mullane has also played a key role with State and Liberty’s expansion into retail stores as he currently oversees their first “brick and mortar” store in Boston.

As Mullane explains it, “I wouldn’t say that I’m a cofounder. I wouldn’t say I’m head of retail or even the VP of sales. I would say that I’m a Dominic Moore-type glue guy. I can do a lot of different things in a lot of different roles. I’m a great locker room guy.”

With the company gaining more recognition, Mullane is excited with what the future has in store. State and Liberty is expanding by opening another shop in Boston and a brand new shop in Washington, DC. The concept of their broad shouldered, form-fitting design has been wildly popular amongst athletes.

“Lee has done a great job of staying in front of the trends and staying on top of the fashions. He has been an innovator in the sense that he’s bringing unique, stylish clothing to professional athletes and other young athletic males. Not a lot of other people are hitting that target market quite like him. Some people might say that we target too small of a market, but from we have seen we think that the market is a lot bigger than people think. The demand for shirts for the athletic male is there and now it’s about keeping up with it.”

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