Darrell Alston comes from a wonderful family in Paoli’s urban, middle-class neighborhood. He had everything he needed as a child, including both parents. Alston could have gone to college after graduating from high school, but he chose to be a rap artist instead.
When he realized that music was not paying, he decided to look for products to sell in order to make money and fund his music career. This drove him to sell drugs in order to make money. That landed him in jail several times. After his third stint in prison for drug trafficking, he resolved to make a better life for himself.
In 2022, Alston has turned his life around by pursuing his passion for the arts. Following his release from prison, he established Bungee Obleen, a luxury sneaker and apparel brand that has gained traction in Philadelphia. While incarcerated, Alston created the designs for his sneakers.
“I created the company while I was incarcerated. I made a business plan after reading books my mom sent me. Other people in jail were doing business plans, and they taught me,” he told mainlinetoday.com.
“I taught myself how to draw and sketched the sneakers. But I got my barber’s license in case the sneakers didn’t become reality. I had no more jail time to give. I worked two jobs and saved money until I had enough to get a sample sneaker made. That took two years. I had the first sample in 2014.”
Alston chose the name “Bungee” because he compares his life to a bungee cord. He went on to say that when he first started doing trade shows, every independent apparel line had the word “apparel” at the end of their name. According to Phillymag, he Googled ‘apparel’ in other languages and came across the word obleen, which is Czechoslovakian, and decided to incorporate it into Bungee, hence the name Bungee Obleen.
Alston’s big break came in 2018, when the Eagles won the Super Bowl. That night, he designed and had manufactured Eagles sneakers, according to him. “I packed my car with sneakers and went to an official pep rally outside the stadium before the first game of the next season,” he recalled.
“I sold out, which was great. But I didn’t have official licensing for the Eagles. I didn’t know what that was. My dumb ass was right at the Eagles stadium selling merchandise without licensing. But I used that money to build my brand. I also got investors to help me finance the company,” he told mainlinetoday.com.
Bungee now offers nearly ten different types of sneakers as well as a full apparel line for men and women. According to Alston, in the spring of 2020, he designed some hoodies and T-shirts and had them manufactured.
“I put tags on the pieces—even stitching logos. We got the shoes in January. Since then, we’ve been selling very well. It’s great to do something positive that makes my parents proud,” he said.
Last year, he got an offer from the CEO of Footlocker to have Bungee Brand sold in their stores. Seeing his sneakers being sold in the same store as brands like Adidas is all he could wish for, he noted.