The question “How do you turn your love for sneakers into a full time Job?” is one that comes up often, especially for sneakerheads who can’t see themselves doing anything else not relating to shoes. For Brandon Edler, He’s managed to turn his hobby into a full time job. From starting off as a blogger on Complex Sneakers to now becoming the Content Manager and Creative Strategist at Finish Line, Brandon Edler has become the perfect example of how one can turn his/her passion into a career.
1. When did your obsession with sneakers begin?
I grew up in Northern Illinois and was a huge Bulls fan but it was Penny Hardaway, not Jordan that kicked off the sneaker obsession. I was very fortunate to have a mother who worked so hard to give me a life she never had growing up. I picked up the Nike Air Up Penny Hardaway PE for basketball in sixth grade and after that, collecting basketball shoes took over for basketball cards.
Once that Eastbay came in the mail, I was like a crack fiend flipping through it and circling things I had to have. I would try and con as many dollars out of my mom to cop dat new new. And we all did the, pop an Air Max bubble trick, to upgrade kicks from time-to-time. Thanks Nike.
2. What kind of shoes are you drawn to mostly? What makes you like a particular type of shoe?
I’ve never had “a type” per se. I’ve always been drawn to sneakers for various reasons—whether it’s the nostalgia of the ‘90s, ill colorways and design, or just a simple staple for the rotation. I have some jiggy shit that only comes out once a year that I love just as much as my Jordan Is I wear multiple times a week.
A few years ago, if it caught my attention I would just pick them up and deal with the buyer’s remorse later. This year I decided I would only pay for 10 pairs, so I have been more selective to what I’m drawn to and have to have. If I had an unlimited budget in one lane, I would cop adidas and Nike lifestyle all day. My best friend kind of influenced me to go with slimmer kicks lately so a lot of my retros and basketball shoes have been collecting dust.
3. When did you realize that you wanted to work in the footwear industry?
Honestly, it just kind of happened more than me realizing I wanted to. I grew up in a town of 650 people and I guess I was clueless to the possibilities out there.
I ran across the Kanye West/Cassie Aug/Sept ’07 Complex issue and became a huge fan of what they were doing. After the blog came to fruition and I started following their core group on Twitter, my goal was to somehow be involved. I hit up Joe La Puma and he gave me a shot to write about sneakers. I had a full time job and did that on the side.
4. From Complex to playing a big role in Finishline’s social media presence, how was that huge jump?
Complex is an army and defined how publications and brands approached things digitally. If anything, I used that energy and tried my best to bring it to Finish Line’s culture. I am obviously bias, but I think there has been a big shift in how people see Finish Line’s digital presence now. If you did a 2013 vs 2015 comparison, you can see we have really focused on creating some of the best content in the retail industry. Excellence is the bare minimum.
5. How did you get to where you are currently?
Making the most of the Complex opportunity was all that mattered to me in 2011. I knew I was going to have to do more than the average dude there since I was doing it all remotely from Indianapolis and was a rookie. A lot of people get their shot but don’t execute to the fullest when the time comes. When I started my ambition far exceeded my talent, so I made sure that there was no doubt that I was willing to sacrifice anything to make Complex Sneakers the best. Having Joe, Russ Bengtson, and Nick Engvall there to teach me was the greatest education you could get. The Complex affiliation helped me build some great relationships and led to me doing a four-page feature in the NBA’s Magazine for LeBron’s 10th Anniversary in the league. During the summer of 2013 I had a great opportunity to go to Finish Line, just another really unexpected situation that has worked out better than imagined.
6. What brands are you currently rockin’ with?
John Elliott hoodies multiple days a week, Kith is always on point, Naked Famous Denim, Rag & Bone, and Zara/H&M type stuff is a must too for the ballin’ on a budget and trendier items. I still go “streetwear” pretty often but I’m trying to dress a little more grown at times. I was in Chicago last month shopping with someone I consider the most stylish person I know. We went to mad stores because I’m so picky about casual button-ups and finally she had me try some Scotch and Soda joints and I was immediately hooked. The fit was perfect and their designs worked well with my style without feeling completely out of pocket from what I would normally wear.
7. The landscape has changed in the way footwear companies hire, What advice would you give someone that wants to get into the footwear industry these days?
Stop worrying about looking cool on social media. Study everything about the industry and find ways to be innovative. So many people pitch myself and other people in the industry by basically asking how we got on and how we can help them get on. It’s in my nature to help people, but I can’t help everyone. When someone approaches me with a vision and a plan on how they are going to execute something better than what is in front of me, those are the type of people I bug HR until they have talked to them on the phone about a possibly future whether we are currently hiring or not.