The Real Sneaker Mafia
DJ Mafia started off as just another DJ wild for kicks, and now she's not only the best known female sneaker fiend on a whole continent, she's also behind an upsurge in women's content in Sneaker Freaker...
by Lori Lobenstine
What’s it like working for Sneaker Freaker? Tell us the good, the bad, the ugly, the hilarious.
Well when I was asked to come on board I don’t think Woody had any idea just how spasticated I was at working with computers. It’s all very well to contribute to forums and post up pictures from photobucket, but actually learning the ins and outs of Photoshop, having to be on point with my incredibly bad grammar and double checking, no, triple checking all posts and reviews beforehand took a lot of getting used to, and still does to this day. Coming from a retail background that was incredibly customer driven, this is a complete 180 the other way. No longer do I have to speak to stupid people or deal with massive company politics. Sneaker Freaker is a very small company with a massive heart, and I am so privileged to be involved. Being the only female at the company has been wicked because I grew up with two brothers, and Greek crass, rude boys at that, so I don’t take offence to anything and am just one of the blokes.
Do folks treat you differently when you say you’re with SF? How?
Oh yeah, I get the “can you get me a job” on the regular, nearly as much as the “can you get me some free sneakers” line. But nah, I’m the same wherever I am and whatever I do. If people treat me differently, it’s coming from them, not because of what I do.
How many sneakers come through the door at SF daily?
We usually get at least a coupla parcels through a day, some more than others. It’s great though, because we’ll have the samples here for months before they come out, so by the time they hit the shelves in stores, I’m so over seeing them, that I don’t want ‘em!
What’s been your favorite part about bringing your sneaker passion to your day job?
Being able to bring a little more female focus to the site and mag, although Woody is pretty good at covering that and has always supported the ladies. I guess being able to research all the stores around the world, because one of my first jobs when I started was to set up the extensive shop guide we have. There is over 200 hundred stores in there now, and I have pretty much done all the submissions and research for it. It’s insane the number of stores that keep opening up all around the world. This culture is definitely taking over!
What’s been more challenging than you expected?
All of it! Not a day goes by when I can just chill out or take it easy. It’s incredibly hard work and because of that, it’s the most fulfilled I have ever felt. It’s the first time in my 33 years that I’ve actually felt I am learning a trade, and each day I’m learning more and more. And Woody pushes and challenges me to be my best…I can feel his frustration at me some days, but in the end it pushes me. I used to dream about working for a magazine and would spend the majority of my cash on mags. I have a bigger passion for magazines than even sneakers. I’m an addict for pop culture!
You’re also making moves as Australia’s biggest female sneaker fiend in your own right. Can you tell us how you’re getting all these TV shows coming your way?
Hahaha, I call it the “failed actor syndrome”. When I submitted shoes into the National Gallery of Victoria to be displayed in a Sneaker Exhibition for a year, the curators asked if I would be the spokesperson of the event, considering I was the only female who entered shoes. I of course jumped at the opportunity, and it was all spawned on by an interview in our national paper, and then I had producers of shows calling to get me to do “exclusives” on their shows. These shows are sort of like the Oprah thang, where they cannot pay you for your time, so instead they bought me off with sneakers! It was great, yo! I copped so many pairs for payment! Plus I got my chubby mug on the TV finally…after years of hustling as an actor; here I am making a name for myself as a sneaker collector…but at the end of the day, there are so many more important things going on in the world than a chick obsessed with sneakers.
Do folks recognize you on the street?
All the time. But it’s what I always wanted, in some form. I thought I wanted to be famous for my acting, but I much preferred myself to some shitty character I was playing, so I strove for infamy…the ultimate! Being famous for doing nothing, haha. It’s pretty hysterical, but I think I’m more known for being DJ Mafia than anything else. I’ll never get used to someone coming up talking to me, and half way through the conversation I’ll click and be like “Oh, you know me, but I have no idea who you are”…but I always end up talking to whoever, cos I love to talk. I can’t even shut up with these questions Lori!
What does your mom say about your sneaker passion these days?
Mum is awesome. I’ve never met anyone who can go through life-threatening cancer and come out of it looking younger and healthier than before. She is warming up to the sneaker thang and is very proud of me, although she would still love to see me in a dress and heels (a wish I granted her on her 60th b-day last year). Both my folks are so awesome and I appreciate them more and more as I get older. We’ve been through a hell of a lot in the last year or so, and it’s true, it brings you closer than ever, I’m even in talks to go to US with mum next year for a trip. She can finally meet all the people I’ve been chatting to on the web for the last 6 months. (Editor's note: HI MUM!)
What are your goals as you move forward in the sneaker industry?
I think I really need to collaborate with some of the shoe brands to steer women’s footwear in the right direction, but I have so much to still learn about the industry now that I’m on the inside of it, that eventually I’d like to be a consultant.
Do you have a current Holy Grail? And what are your current faves?
I just copped my holy grail (Supreme Half Cabs) so as far as fiending anything else, I pretty much have all I want. I just copped some dope Green Reebok Reverse Jams, I was fortunate enough to be given two pairs of Claw Money Blazers from Nike…(They are amazing in the flesh.) Treis at Alife sent me some Alife First Rounds, the black and white version. Man I got a lot of shoes this year, it’s hard to remember all of them. Oh yeah MDOT and Jason at JB Classics hooked me up with the Kid Robot/Tilt sneakers, which were so well executed!
Where do you see the sneaker game going from here?
You tell us! It’s pretty much all about hybrids yo. I would like to see a return to plain white sneakers. I’m a massive fan of white on whites on any shoe. From what I’ve seen though, the colours won’t stop, not just yet. But I’m hella excited about the new range from Reebok. It’s all about the ‘Bok for me next year…Just wait!
What brands do you think should be getting more love than they do? Less?
Reebok definitely. They have stepped up their game like crazy yo. I used to be all about adidas, and I have to tell you I haven’t bought a three stripe for over 5 years yo. I loved them so much I used to want to be sponsored by them. Now you’ll find all Nike, Jordan, Reebok and New Balance in my selection.
If someone wanted to make a Mafia shoe, what would be your top 3 choices?
Reebok Reverse Jam, Nike Jordan IV, Air Max 180 high
And don't be surprised if you see one of these collabs out soon! Her determination and passion for the game means there's no stopping her. In her own words...