Darius Brown, from Newark, New Jersey, was diagnosed with developmental delays, including speech delay, comprehension delay and fine motor skills delay, when he was just two years old. Since then, his mother, Joy Brown, and his older sister, Dazhai Brown-Shearz, have been working hard to encourage him to improve those skills.
Darius’s breakthrough came at the age of eight, while his sister was in cosmetology school. Dazhai was making hair ribbons for little girls and thought Darius could benefit from helping out with the project.
“With his fine motor skills, he wasn’t able to really use his hands well — tying a shoe was challenging,” says Dazhai. “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. And it did — it worked!”
Before long, Darius was getting good at making things with ribbon and was falling in love with his new hobby. He began to fashion bow ties for himself and wore them to school (and everywhere else) every day. Everywhere he went, people would ask him where they could buy a nice bow tie like his, so he started his own shop, Beaux & Paws, where he sold bow ties for people and their pets.
But the story doesn’t end there. Darius’s love for animals runs deep, so when he heard about all the displaced dogs and cats flooding shelters after the devastating effects of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, he knew he had to help in the only way he knew how. In an effort to help more animals get adopted from those overcrowded shelters, Darius began sending bow tie donations to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Luckily, Darius isn’t the only one who’s in love with this particularly dapper fashion accessory. Bow ties are popular right now, and any animal lover knows that a cute collar or accessory can really doll up any doggo. The bow ties are really helping shelter animals dress for success so that prospective owners notice them more.
“It helps the dog look noticeable, very attractive,” says Darius. “It helps them find a forever, loving home…I love everything about dogs and cats.”
Darius, who is only 12 years old, has now donated hundreds of bow ties to animal shelters across the nation, and he’s fundraising in hopes of donating even more. He donates a portion of every Beaux & Paws sale to the ASPCA and uses another portion of it to buy supplies for his donated bow ties. Generous donors, many of whom are among his 45,500 followers on Instagram, have also been giving him money and materials to use for his project.
“The donations help a lot because we were just digging in our pockets, buying the fabric ourselves,” says Joy.
“We’re definitely very proud of Darius,” says Joy. “He’s overcome a lot and he’s still on his journey of overcoming a lot of things. He just keeps going for what he believes in.”
Thank you, Darius, for supporting homeless pets across the country and giving shelters such an amazing idea for how to showcase their animals better! We know this idea will make a huge difference in the lives of countless animals!
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?
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