Sole Stories: A Journey Through Sneaker Culture

In the rhythmic pulse of city streets and the steady beat of urban fashion, a subculture has emerged that transcends mere footwear – it’s a lifestyle, a passion, and a vibrant tapestry of personal expression. Welcome to “Sole Stories,” an immersive interview editorial series that delves into the fascinating world of sneaker enthusiasts and the tales woven into the very fabric of their beloved kicks.

In this series, we step into the closets of individuals whose lives are intertwined with the iconic rubber soles, exploring the narratives behind each pair of sneakers they carefully curate. From the retro classics that evoke nostalgia to the limited-edition releases that command admiration, these individuals are not just collectors; they are storytellers, each sneaker encapsulating a chapter of their lives.

“Sole Stories” is more than a celebration of fashion; it’s an exploration of personal histories, cultural influences, and the ever-evolving landscape of sneaker culture. Our interviews transcend the superficial and delve into the heart of why sneakers hold such a special place in the lives of these enthusiasts.

Join us as we journey through the backstreets of passion and delve into the closets of those whose sneaker stories are as diverse as the styles they showcase. From the seasoned veterans with closets that could rival a sneaker store to the newcomers whose stories are just beginning, “Sole Stories” promises a glimpse into a world where fashion meets narrative, and each step is a testament to an individual’s unique journey.

So, lace up your favorite pair, and let’s embark on this odyssey through the colorful, dynamic, and ever-evolving world of sneakers. Get ready to be inspired, and moved, and perhaps, find a new appreciation for the stories that unfold beneath those perfectly crafted soles.

In the first edition, we speak to speak to Will Stolk. Meet Will, a contemporary entrepreneur and former professional skier who has skillfully redirected his platform and media expertise toward the flourishing cannabis industry. Having successfully crafted the lifestyle brand “Ballin’ On A Budget” from the ground up, Will has seamlessly transitioned into the cannabis realm, establishing and overseeing companies in both Australia and the United States. Beyond his entrepreneurial pursuits, Will is a pivotal force in the infamous “Who Are We Hurting?” collective. For the past five years, this dynamic group has orchestrated bold publicity stunts aimed at advocating for the legalization of cannabis in Australia. As one half of this collective, Will’s unconventional approach to spreading the message is nothing short of spectacular.

To catch a glimpse of his daring escapades and eccentric endeavors, one need only scroll through his Instagram feed. It’s a visual journey reminiscent of a Hunter S. Thompson novel, infused with crazy publicity stunts, a distinct lack of inhibitions, and a dash of danger. Will’s presence in the cannabis industry isn’t just about business—it’s a spectacle, an adventure, and a testament to the boundary-pushing spirit that defines his journey.


Could you share a bit about your secret origin story and your sneaker origin story?

My secret origin story consisted of growing up on Sydney’s northern beaches, with sun and surf at around 9 years old a family tragedy motivated my father to have a life rethink at the time he was running 3 famous Mexican restaurants and working on launching a group of Mexican food products nationwide, he came to the conclusion that life was short so he packed up the bags and my mum and all the kids (4 of us) and we moved to Verbier in Switzerland for 5 months to ski, after that I was hooked I did mogul skiing for a while dreaming about winning an Olympic gold medal at the Winter Olympics, I then started smoking weed and released freeskiing a new fad that started in the late ’90s involving skis with twin tips was my way forward. I quit mogul skiing and went full flung into the freeride game, I ended up getting sponsored and got paid to travel around the world skiing, filming for movies, shooting for magazines and doing competitions, and just living the rock star life traveling the world with my friends.

During that time I was sponsored by a lot of big companies like Head Skis, Dragon Optics, Halti Clothing, etc just to name a few and I always used to get big swag boxes of free gear that included sunglasses, goggles, skis, and other ski gear but I never ever had a sneaker sponsor so I always was jealous of some of my friends back home that were sponsored for skateboarding and got boxes of free shoes.

I came back to Australia for a period during that and met my now ex gf, she was the Queensland rep for Reebok, I always had liked sneakers but I normally wore skate shoes, so she gifted me a pair of green, and purple Reebok pumps and instantly I was hooked on sneakers. I now own about 15 pairs of shoes which I rotate through on the daily. Slowly I evolved into the stuff that I do now which is cannabis, creative direction, and producing all sorts of content.

What are your favorite sneakers of all time? and if you had to choose my favorite pair to wear it would be what?

I would say my current favorite pair of sneakers have to be the Nike SB Stefan Janoski Max Iguana Camo & Pass~Port x Nike SB Dunk High “Workboot”.

My favorite pair to wear would be the desert camo Nike SB High Dunks I am obsessed with camo.

What drew you to this particular pair of sneakers? What’s your personal sneaker-collecting philosophy?

I personally am a huge fan of Nike SB and the way the shoe feels they are so comfortable and they suit my lifestyle as I skate a lot for transport around cities I travel through. I also am a fan of avant-garde sneakers not everyone can wear I used to frequently visit Japan (precoivd) and we always visit these crazy second-hand stores that would have all of these insane Nikes and other shoes that you would never find anywhere else. I am also obsessed with anything camo and my taste is very varied. I am not stuck in one genre If I like something I like it. I have never really been a follower I always just danced to the beat of my own drum. I have Timberland boots, loafers, sneakers, basketball shoes, whatever I think looks dope I will normally purchase. I definitely don’t really follow any style guidelines. I don’t see the point in being stuck in a box.

Could you tell us more about what inspired you to build Ballin’ On A Budget and get into the cannabis game?

Originally I was running an online magazine called Booyah, then I met a new friend and we ended up going to the Playboy mansion and he wrote an article for Ralph magazine about our evening at the Playboy mansion which led to us launching the biggest indy men’s magazine in Australia called Apollo that lasted for about 2 years and then we all kinda had a bust-up and I started Ballin’ On A Budget the website got huge we got to over a million fans on FB and at one point we were getting 10 m plus page views a month, FB deleted my FB fan page and then the whole thing went downhill from there but I have plans of relaunching the site next month actually, on the side from that I started my creative agency People Like US and then got into the cannabis game. We have launched a few cannabis companies in the U.S., including a weed dispensary and a hemp-for-pets company. One will be a Californian-based lifestyle-focused cannabis company called Fully Lit, which will be online to compete with the giants of the industry like Dan Bilzerian’s Ignite. Starting with vapes and then edibles, we will be focused on making the best tasting and quality THC Gummies in the world as well as amazing vapes, then expanding into other fields of cannabis as time goes on. We are also launching a health and wellness brand called Byron Bay Biologicals with the sub-brand of Byron Bay CBD, producing an array of organic Hemp and CBD health products from tinctures to sports and pain relief creams, and beauty products. We aim to make Byron Bay Biologicals the premier brand in the cannabis health space. Considering I live in the northern NSW area, a place that exudes a hippie vibe of spiritual tranquillity with the best that nature has to offer, our products will reflect this and take that same vibe and spirit to the world. Other than that, we have some future plans for farming and manufacturing facilities here in Australia and abroad — and some secret technology that could potentially revolutionize the extraction side of hemp, CBD, and Cannabis. But these projects are top secret, and I am not at liberty to discuss them yet! I also just launched season 2 of my podcast Willy’s World so give that a listen on Spotify, apple podcast, or wherever you listen to your podcasts.

What are your plans for your company/brand in the future?

Yes, we opened our first recreational cannabis dispensary 3 years ago in Lee Vinning at the western entrance to the r. We are looking into opening our second one potentially later this year in the Eastern Sierras of California. I’ve been hearing a lot of good things in the U.S., and a lot of people in the Cannabis industry are predicting a potential huge boom for the Australian cannabis industry. I think medical dispensaries will soon become a more common sight before recreational ones do – I know that there are a few on the Gold Coast popping up, as well as in Sydney and Melbourne (and hopefully in other major cities around Australia). I think that the Australian government is currently sucking on the tit of the massive billion-dollar pharmaceutical industry and they don’t want to legalize cannabis in Australia. Until this changes, I don’t see it becoming legalized here, but I have hope for the future! The only way to initiate change is to get the politicians to care about what people think, and tell them if they don’t change their laws they will lose their place in the government because we, the people, will vote them out. There must be power to the people. So instead of talking about it, write to your local member of parliament, go to protests, talk to your neighbor. Spread the word!

Any advice for the younger generation that might want to follow in your footsteps?

To be very frank with your readers my personal advice is to dance to the beat of your own drum. Don’t listen to the haters, chase your dreams no matter how grand they are, and the wisest words I ever heard were. “ DO WHATEVER IT TAKES.”

Where can people find you on social media?

You can find me on socials on IG at @willysworld69 (they deleted my IG account for the 2nd time recently haha) @willysworldpodcast, @ballinonabudget & @plucreative. On the cannabis side follow @byronbaycbd @phenohunts


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