When Darryl Sharpton first joined the National Football League (NFL) in 2010, he was tipped as one of the promising stars to look out for. Unfortunately, injuries got in his way and he had to end his career in 2015.
“I was miserable,” he said of his series of injuries that derailed his career in an interview. “I couldn’t take it.” He finished his career playing 47 games for the Texans recording 176 tackles and one sack.
After quitting the NFL, Sharpton went into entrepreneurship, establishing e-commerce furniture companies Edloe Finch in 2017 and Albany Park in 2019 with his wife Jessica. He told CNBC that his companies have Amazon and Wayfair as wholesale buyers.
According to Sharpton, Albany Park is a sofa in a box brand that ships to buyers within three days. He and his wife design the furniture and have them manufactured in China and Malaysia. Edloe Flinch, on its website, says its “mission is to manufacture chic modern furniture without the typical industry mark-ups. Edloe Finch operates exclusively online with no retail stores, showrooms or salespeople — passing the savings to you!”
Going into entrepreneurship, especially within the e-commerce space, was nothing out of the blue for Sharpton. It was a passion he had since his days at the University of Miami where he studied finance. He got an opportunity to sell furniture after purchasing a sofa from Craigslist.
After five years playing in the NFL, there is no gainsaying that the former linebacker is supervising a thriving business. He witnessed a boom in online sales occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic as many countries and states imposed lockdown measures to contain the spread of the virus.
Last year, Sharpton said his companies estimated to make $10 million in sales, up from $3.9 million in 2019. However, because of the pandemic, the revenue projection was pushed to $20 million. It could reach $100 million in 2022, he said. “With Covid-19, the online shopping trends have accelerated five years into the future,” Sharpton told CNBC. “We happen to be in a good space at a good time.”
The road has not been smooth sailing for the former NFL player. He recalled facing discrimination and racism while attending furniture fairs. He remembered taking an unusual step to use his wife’s face on the site so that his business wouldn’t suffer because he is Black. His wife is Asian and White, and a former oil and gas consultant.
“Today, I can’t imagine being in that place mentally but definitely at the time I was [unsure] if people would feel comfortable with buying furniture from me where they would maybe question everything – the quality, the validity,” Sharpton said.
The 34-year-old is looking to expand his business by accepting investors although he is torn between potential acquisition offers.