Brian Willis shows one of the designs he drew up for former NBA player and anime fan Jordan Mickey.

A St. Joseph man hopes to take his shoe customization business to the next level.

Brian Willis runs Kick Escobar and designs one-of-a-kind footwear. The 2016 Central High School graduate has had a passion for stylish shoes ever since he was a child.

“I’ve loved shoes since elementary school,” Willis said. “I’ve always been a shoe guy.”

He eventually got in touch with other professional footwear artists who gave him the confidence to turn his hobby into a business.

Willis paints the shoes, preferably made of leather or fabric, with special acrylic paint. The secret to a good and long-lasting design is all in the prep work.

“You take the factory finish off with acetone and that really preps the work for you,” Willis said. “When you’re done painting and you’re happy with your design, you just want to put a coat of finisher on it.”

Willis has been so busy with orders he has quit his full-time job and taken a part-time position to be able to work on them. He recently received two orders from professional athletes: LA Chargers rookie Roderic Teamer and former Miami Heat player Jordan Mickey.

“This is very, very special to me because I am a huge Chargers fan,” Willis said. “And I’m a die-hard Miami Heat fan, so I’m very excited about those.”

Willis relies on social media, particularly Instagram, to promote his business and get in touch with potential customers, which is how he contacted Mickey.

“I was at a preseason game at Sprint Center and I liked the way Jordan Mickey played,” he said. “So I found him on Instagram, he followed me back and we messaged each other.”

Willis has also customized shoes for rising rap artists but said he’s not looking to focus one a specific client group.

“I’m open to everybody,” Willis said.

To contact Willis, visit instagram.com/kick_escobar.

Jessica Kopp can be reached

at jessica.kopp@newspressnow.com or you can

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