Welcome to our series, #WHYoming, brought to you in partnership by Kaumo Law.
We are highlighting people from around our communities and asking them a few questions. We want to learn a little about them and see why they chose this great state to raise their families, start their businesses, or simply to ask — Why Wyoming?
For this week’s #WHYoming, I had a chance to sit down with Brayden Flack, the man behind Flacksta Customs, a sneaker customizing service.
Many of SweetwaterNOW’s readers, viewers, and listeners may also know Brayden as our very own sports and community reporter and podcaster. Brayden hosts the podcast, Beyond the Game, and co-hosts the Mid-Week Huddle with our community reporter Sam Ferrara.
Having worked with Brayden for over a year now, I can attest to how passionate and driven he is. When he finds something that sparks his interest, he goes into with his whole heart, and it shows. And on top of it all, he’s just a really great guy.
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Brayden, tell me about Flacksta Customs. Where did the idea come from?
Those who know me best know that I’m a huge sneakerhead. About a year and a half ago, I came across this artist named Kickstradomis who paints shoes for NBA basketball players. I remember my jaw dropped when I saw a pair of shoes he did for Karl Anthony Towns who plays for the Minnesota Timberwolves. I thought it was such an awesome idea to have a custom pair of shoes that nobody else has.
I’ve never considered myself an artist, but I ran with my curiosity after seeing Kickstadomis’s work and began painting shoes over a year ago. Flacksta Customs is the name of my sneaker customizing service. It took me about seven months to figure out how to paint wearable and durable artwork on shoes. There’s not much information available to those who start out and a lot of learning how to paint durable artwork comes through trial and error. There were many times I wanted to give up, but my passion for creating unique shoes overcame any doubt during the process.
Since the beginning of Flacksta Customs in 2018, I have done 60 custom jobs for clients in Wyoming, Utah, Connecticut, Maine, Idaho, and Oregon. For me, Flacksta Customs has been all about turning my passion into a service where I can help others express themselves in a very unique and different way. It’s pretty neat to think about all the different people around the country wearing my artwork.
What kinds of items have you painted?
I’ve painted pretty much every single type of shoe. From slides to basketball shoes, I can do it all.
I recently did a few pairs of football cleats for local players here on Rock Springs High School’s football team. One of the player’s cleats I did was in memory of his mother who passed away from cancer. It was a special feeling to be able to help him have his mother out on the field with him despite the unfortunate circumstances.
I also painted and donated a volleyball last year to Western Wyoming Community College’s volleyball team. One of the player’s sisters was battling a very rare disease. I painted the volleyball and incorporated a few symbolic meanings in the ball. The person who won the ball actually ended up donating it to the player’s sister which was really thoughtful.
I have done a few gaming controllers. I haven’t really done much with controllers, but those are always fun.
The most unique item I have painted would be some custom Iron-Man headphones for DJ Phony Stark. I’ve done a few jobs for him ranging from shoes to his headphones that he uses at every gig.
My ultimate goal is to eventually get where Kickstradomis is with his clientele. I recently had the opportunity to do a pair of cleats for BYU football player Chaz Ah You. He’s their starting linebacker. He reached out to me over Instagram and sent me some cleats. If you have the BYU football game on today, look out for Chaz and you’ll see my cleats on television. It’s amazing to think my artwork is on an NCAA football field. Now I just need to get a few of those Pokes to wear my cleats!
How do people get in touch with you for customized work?
Those interested in getting in touch with me for customized work can find me on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/FlackstaCustoms/) and @FlackstaCustoms on Instagram. Shoot me a message.
If you don’t have social media you can also fill out a free quote by following this link here (https://flackstacustoms.typeform.com/to/kqGvsC).
Let’s talk about your job. How long have you been here at SweetwaterNOW and what’s your job?
I started at SweetwaterNOW as a community and sports reporter in September of 2018. I have maintained that position and I focus most of my time in local sports and podcasting. I’ve loved every minute at SweetwaterNOW. I’ve had the freedom to grow and cover local sports in a different way. The community has responded well and I hope to continue providing engaging and interesting sports content.
You’re also a student at Western Wyoming Community College. What are you studying and when are you graduating?
I’m on track to graduate from WWCC at the end of this year in December. I’m currently majoring in Communications.
What are your plans for after graduation?
I’d like to continue my education, but I’m thinking about taking some time away from school and saving up money instead of going into debt.
With that said, I think you can expect me to stick around at SweetwaterNOW. I’m also thinking about trying out real estate and substitute teaching. And I’ll of course continue growing Flacksta Customs.
How did you end up in Rock Springs?
My family has always lived in Rock Springs and so I guess you could say I ended up here without a choice.
What is something unique about you?
One unique thing about me is my ability to play any song on the piano by ear with my right hand. I can also do it on the guitar.
What are some of your hobbies?
I enjoy watching sports with my dad. We became season ticket holders this year for the Arizona Cardinals. It’s been a blast going down for a handful of games this season. The best part is the warm weather. I’m really looking forward to the trips in December.
One other hobby that I’d like to revive is fishing. I enjoy going out and spending the day at the lake. It’s very soothing. I haven’t been in a while, but I’d like to pick it back up.
What do you appreciate most about our community?
I appreciate how giving this community is. Seeing how everyone comes together during rough times has served as such a good example for myself. I often find inspiration in the donations and different causes that happen within our tightly knit community.
If you could give one brief piece of advice, what would it be?
Don’t let others define what you want to do or who you want to be in life. There’s no value to doing what others want you to do with your life. If there’s a dream you have or a passion you want to grow, go for it. The only one stopping you from reaching your full potential is yourself. Exercise your freedom to choose and be great. Why not?
Where is your favorite place to hang out in Sweetwater County?
One of my favorite spots to hang out in Sweetwater County is on top of White Mountain. I love climbing up Pilot Butte and gazing out at a sunset or looking out on the landscape. It’s a quiet place where you can think and get away from reality. I appreciate the outdoors and how easily accessible they are here in Sweetwater County.
Would you rather walk, ride a bike, take a horse, or drive a car?
I’ve never been on a horse, so that’s not an option. I’m hoping to get that opportunity some day!
I’d have to say drive a car. I love road trips. The open road is another escape.
I’ll walk and bike if it’s part of my workout.
What would you sing at karaoke night?
Anything by the Zac Brown Band. I don’t think I have to do much explaining, they are an incredible band. Plus their lyrics are pretty easy to memorize.
How would your friends describe you?
Tall, dark and handsome.
No, not really. But I’m not far off! I think most of my friends would say that I am opinionated, have an entrepreneurial spirit and care about people.
What is one of your proudest accomplishments?
By far my proudest accomplishment was my service to the people of South Africa. I served as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I lived in Johannesburg, South Africa for two years. The lessons I learned and the people I came in contact with over that two-year period taught me a lot about myself.
At the time, I thought my daily service was doing a lot for my South African friends, but in reality it did a lot more for me.
Who would you want to play you in a movie about your life?
John Cena. Google said he’s an actor so it counts. I’d like John Cena to play me because we are obviously quite similar. Tall, dark, and handsome.
I’m really bad at coming up with new jokes.
When I was in South Africa, the kids used to call me John Cena because they thought I looked like him. I’m not sure what similarities they saw other than our skin color, but I think their recommendation makes the most sense.
Why do you continue to live in Wyoming?
I never really thought I would like to live in Wyoming after I graduated high school, but I have come to appreciate the open space, small community, and opportunity that Wyoming continues to present. There’s not a lot of places like Wyoming left in the world, and it’s a special place despite what people may say. Wyoming is a part of who I am.