When animals are placed into shelters, some have more difficulty getting adopted than others. Not all of them are fortunate enough to find loving, supportive homes. However, a 12-year-old from Newark, New Jersey is attempting to change that. By creating bow-ties for shelter animals, Darius Brown hopes to help dogs and cats find their forever homes by making them look spiffy for potential adopters!

Darius’ passion for fashion

When 12-year-old Darius Brown was growing up, no one anticipated that the New Jersey boy would grow up to design, sew, and produce his own bowties. Despite being an energetic, passionate, and motivated youngster, Brown has been coping with a variety of challenges since the age of two, struggling with comprehension delay, speech delay, and fine motor delay. Still, Brown never let his struggles prevent him from thriving. He developed a love for both animals and fashion, which only increased when his 22-year-old sister, Dazhai Brown-Shearz, enrolled in cosmetology school. Soon, 8-year-old Brown was eager to help her produce a plethora of fabulous fashion pieces alongside her. While his sister and mother, Joy Brown, were concerned that his fine motor skill delay would make it impossible for him to sew, he picked up the hobby with incredible ease.

“My mother and I came up with the idea that if he helped us with things like prepping the ribbon or cutting it, and sewing fabric together, it would help him,” Brown-Shearz said. “And it did — it worked!” Before long, Brown began to design and produce one signature piece of clothing: bow ties. The bow-tie enthusiast claims to “wear bow ties all the time,” never leaving the house without one. Other people took notice to his bow-ties, as well, impressed with the style and uniqueness of each one. Many were eager to get their hands on an original Darius Brown bow-tie. However, Brown had other plans for his creations…and humans weren’t a part of his vision.

The bow-tie enthusiast’s mission

As more people grew fond of Brown’s bow-ties and inquired where they could purchase one themselves, Brown began to think about a positive way to redistribute his bow-ties to support causes that were important to him. Before long, the caring young man came up with an incredible plan to feed his two biggest passions: fashion and animals. Brown was particularly inspired by a frightening period of weather during Hurricane Harvey which left a plethora of pets without homes.

Brown was deeply worried about those affected by Hurricane Harvey, particularly the animals who were displaced due to the frightening storm. He found out that many pups and felines were without a place to stay and were being shipped off to shelters where they could be cared for. However, his heart broke when he found out that many animals in overcrowded shelters who weren’t adopted out quickly enough would have to be put down. Brown, distraught and motivated, came up with a plan to make adoptable animals even more adorable in the eyes of those who could potentially give them a loving home.

Selflessly supporting shelter animals

Using his rapid bow-tie production skills, Brown began to create bow-ties for shelter animals to make them look spiffy for potential adopters. This adorable gesture to support animal rescue led to the birth of Beaux and Paws. At first, Brown and his family were purchasing every bit of fabric for the donated bow-ties themselves, supporting Brown’s remarkable mission on their own money. However, after distributing hundreds of bow-ties to shelters across the nation, more people wanted to chip in to help support Brown’s caring organization. Brown produced a GoFundMe to support his bow-tie production, which, as of July 2019, had accrued nearly $16,000 in donations.

In the true nature of selflessness, Brown doesn’t pocket any money that he makes from his fundraising efforts. He donates a hefty portion to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and only holds onto enough from each purchase to buy new fabric and supplies to continue to produce his donated bow-ties. His selfless actions have drawn attention from across the nation, even earning him a personal letter from former President Barack Obama. In his letter, Obama said:

“After hearing your story, I wanted to reach out to commend you for your commitment to community service. From founding Beaux and Paws to lifting up the lives of those around you, it’s clear you are doing your part to look out for your fellow citizens. And I trust you take tremendous pride in all you have accomplished. As long as you stay engaged in the world around you, continue looking for ways to help others, and never give up on yourself, I’m confident our future will be bright.”

As more people donate and draw attention to Beaux and Paws, Brown hopes to continue to produce as many bow-ties as he can to get shelter animals adopted out to loving homes. You can keep up with Brown’s remarkable organization (and the precious dogs and cats who sport his bow-ties) on his Instagram, @sirdariusbrown.