A lot of people like sneakers. After all, who doesn't dig getting their hands on a dope new pair of kicks? Then there are those who love sneakers--like, really, really love them. They are "sneaker aficionados," if you will, and can quote info on an obscure pair of classic kicks the same way a sports nut can rattle off stats about some long forgotten game.

And then there is an even further level of sneaker buff: those who transform their knowledge of sneakers from a hobby into a career. It is these entrepreneurs that FILA is celebrating in its new profile series Rise of the IndependentsIn 12 installments, FILA and Complex will be showcasing the independent retailers across the nation who have each taken their passion for sneakers and turned it into a business that's been built from the ground up.

Episode 1 features Frank Cook, the proprietor of Wish in Atlanta, who keeps his love of kicks fresh by organizing "Finders, Sneakers," an ongoing treasure hunt in the store's Little Five Points neighborhood. The "treasure," in this case, is a dope pair of kicks that Cook is giving away to whomever finds them first (he gives clues about the pair's location via Facebook and Twitter). "This time in sneakers is a real serious business," Cook says, "but we need to bring it back to the fun."

Episode 2 takes us to Texas, where we meet up with Matt Halfhill. Halfhill founded the revered sneaker blog Nice Kicks, and then opened a corresponding flagship store in Austin. Halfhill speaks in-depth about his love of sneakers, and his particular affection for pairs that most other people hate.

Episode 3 heads to Detroit and catches up with Rick Williams and Roland Coit, co-owners of Burn Rubber. The pair discuss the deep sense of responsibility they feel as respected judges of sneaker quality, and how they strive to never lead consumers astray.

All three episodes are available to watch now by clicking the links above. There are nine more installments of Rise of the Independents in the pipeline, so be sure to check back each Thursday for new episodes.