Salvador Amezcua found himself at a crossroads last year. While rehabilitating from a car accident, he was scrolling through his 100,000 followers on Instagram. Upon going through the list, he stumbled across Minnesota Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns and, with nothing to lose, decided to send him a message about possibly doing a custom sneaker.
“I just shot my shot and reached out to him through a DM, and he responded within a minute,” said Amezcua, 31. “I figured this could be the best comeback with somebody of KAT’s caliber.”
After constantly messaging back and forth, Towns invited Amezcua over to his place during the summertime in Los Angeles and the two spoke for hours about everything from kicks to life. And it was there that Amezcua acquired one of his first NBA clients after going on a yearlong hiatus from customizing sneakers.
For Towns, his sneaker options are extremely limited. With size 20 feet, he has to wear basic Nike Hyperdunk models. But now with a personal sneaker customizer in Amezcua (known online as “Kickstradomis”), he has endless possibilities. And Kickstradomis is able to use the space on Towns’ shoes as a canvas to create amazing art that will be seen by the masses.
During Halloween, the world took notice of Kickstradomis’ work when Towns laced up a Jason Voorhees-inspired Hyperdunk at the Target Center. After the Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl, Towns wore a custom game sneaker honoring his favorite football team. That’s when, according to Amezcua, his work was being recognized.
“He wears some shoes and people start to take notice,” Amezcua said. “That’s when Montrezl [Harrell] hit me up [and] it kind of just snowballed from there.”
Harrell, another NBA sneakerhead, has worn some of Kickstradomis’ work throughout the season, too, and has been a loyal client. Eventually, other NBA players followed suit.
“[Kelly] Oubre’s supposed to be sending me some more [shoes], Damian Lillard wanted like five pairs, Donovan Mitchell – all these guys just started bringing guys my way,” Amezcua said. “With Donovan Mitchell, he was able to get me Ricky Rubio and Rudy Gobert. I have players on every team [and] a handful of players going to the playoffs, so it’s going to keep me busy.”
Six years after he started restoring his cousin’s sneakers as a side hustle, Amezcua has turned his passion into a career and is the guy NBA players come to when they want custom work done. The guy who used to charge family members and friends anywhere from $40 to $60 for restorations is now getting anywhere from $400 to $500 a sneaker.
“I feel that I deserve it and I’m able to charge that much because I think my work is where it should be,” he says of the price inflation over the years. “And it’s only getting better.”
He currently works out of his home in Norwalk, CA, with hoards of shoes – from all brands and sizes – throughout his space. He’s taken notice of how his life has shifted completely in the last 365 days and now operates with his manager and a small team of family members.
“Being able to reap all these benefits and doing what I do, it wouldn’t be right if I was doing it by myself,” says Amezcua. “They’ve helped me a lot with the prep work, shipping, all this other extra stuff that people don’t see behind the scenes. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to bang out as much and as quickly as I do.”
Some of the behind-the-scenes stuff he refers to was prepping sneakers for a project he did for the Timberwolves that debuted on “Flip Saunders Night” this past February. What originally was going to be three customs for Towns, Tyus Jones and Andrew Wiggins turned into 17 sneakers for the whole team and Saunders’ son, Ryan, that were auctioned off that night during a nationally-televised game against the Lakers.
“I thought it was going to be a challenging project for sure, but I knew I could do it, and what could potentially happen from it,” said Amezcua regarding the week-long project. “It’s an honor to be a part of that night.”
Brands such as adidas, Trolli, Disney, gaming companies and several NBA organizations have taken notice, inquiring about upcoming partnerships.
“I’m going to be flying out to Utah soon and doing something with Donovan, Ricky and Rudy Gobert, and with the [Jazz] organization,” he says. “I’ve worked with the Clippers and have something crazy coming out with Fortnite, Epic Games and E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo). It’s just nonstop.”
Just this week, Ricky Rubio, Rudy Gobert and Kemba Walker all wore Kickstradomis-endorsed customs. With players from almost every team, Amezcua doesn’t feel he needs to be constantly messaging guys to work with him.
“It’s kind of like a waiting game to see if they hit me because I know they see my work,” he said. “Because a lot of the players I’ve done work for, they’ve played against every team, so there’s been eyes on my work before.”
Amezcua hopes an opportunity to work with Kobe Bryant in the near future opens up, but he continues to establish more clientele with the NBA at the tail end of the season and hopes to work with MLB and more NFL athletes in the coming months to enhance his brand.
“I’m definitely living in the moment, but I always stay focused,” he said. “There’s always a bigger plan. As an entrepreneur, you have to look years ahead, plan and make goals.”
Fashion, adidas, Disney, Evergreen, Fortnite, Kickstradomis, Nike, Top, Trolli, Andrew Wiggins, Damian Lillard, Donovan Mitchell, Karl-Anthony Towns, Kelly Oubre, Kobe Bryant, Montrezl Harrell, Ricky Rubio, Rudy Gobert, Tyus Jones, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Utah Jazz