ST. LOUIS – Like most people, Jon-Paul Wheatley needed a hobby in 2020.

His began with one stitch, eventually sown into countless, unimaginable opportunities.

“Yeah, It’s been an interesting year,” Wheatley said with a laugh.

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jon-Paul bought leather goods and stitching utensils in hopes of constructing his own soccer balls. He documented every step of his process.

“I was kind of talking to the void,” Wheatley said.

He had roughly 50 followers at the time.

“I didn’t look up a tutorial or anything,” Wheatley explained. “I kind of just went for it.”

Beginning with a standard 32-piece-panel construction, Wheatley improved his craft. Eventually, Jon-Paul crafted a ball made out of Adidas Predator soccer shoes, which gained notable traction across multiple social media platforms.

Soon after, Jon-Paul had amassed over 13-million likes on TikTok alone, earning him opportunities to travel abroad to construct custom soccer balls for various companies.

Each custom design takes nearly a week to complete. His talent, however, earned him a very unique opportunity.

“If you had told me 8 months ago that I’d be flying to Qatar to make balls and do collaborations and stuff, I would have just laughed,” Wheatley said.

Tasked with creating a commemorative ball for the 2022 World Cup, Wheatley hopes to bring back his experience to St. Louis, where he will continue to build a business around custom designs.

You can follow Jon-Paul’s journey across a variety of social media platforms or at his new website, https://12p.com/.