This Newark ‘Kidpreneur’ Is Using His Bow Tie Business To Save Shelter Pets

Darius said that at an early age, sewing was a way for him to fine-tune his motor skills after being diagnosed with a speech impediment. By learning the skill of sewing from his sister, Darius’ passion for making bow ties was born. Starting out, the Newark teen began selling bow ties to people which became a hit among customers. However, Darius wanted to do more to give back.

The idea for the business, he said, was spurred when he saw countless dogs and other pets on television displaced by the devastation inflicted upon the U.S. by Hurricane Irma. Wanting to use his flair for making bow ties, he found a greater purpose for his business than just selling products to people.

“I was so hurt by that and moved that it made me want to do something to help them,” he said.

Using his sewing skills, Darius designed and created custom bow ties for pets with a “Buy-One Give-One Promise.” The initiative guarantees that for every bow tie purchased, he donates one to a shelter pet to bolster their likeability and help them find their fur-ever homes.

Darius said he donated his bow ties to an American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) shelter. Although the four-legged friends at the facility looked as dapper as ever in Darius' bow ties, he soon learned about the grim side of animal shelters that often gets overlooked.

“It was a great moment, but when I was speaking with people and volunteers at the animal shelter, they were educating me about what was going on with the cats and dogs who were euthanized after staying there too long,” he said.

About 920,000 shelter animals each year are euthanized (390,000 dogs and 530,000 cats), according to the ASPCA.

This harsh reality didn’t sit well with Darius.

“It made me feel some type of way because I come from a family that comes from adoption,” he said. “My mother was adopted from her mom, and it was really hurtful… I wanted to make sure that I could limit [euthanizations] as much as possible by helping save as many cats’ and dogs’ lives.”

Now, he works with organizations such as the ASPCA and uses his brand to grow his outreach online, particularly through Facebook. The social media platform, he said, helped his business take off and has grown an online community by connecting with people all over the country who want to help his cause.

Backed by online support, he now has a Facebook shop where customers can purchase bow ties directly on social media and help even more pets get adopted. To date, his platform has helped raise more than $300,000 to support animal shelters, sponsor adoption fees, donate to the “Make-A-Wish Foundation” and give thousands of bow ties to shelters and adoption centers across the world.

“A lot of my community comes from Facebook and Instagram,” he said. “Facebook has helped me reach more sales, and [officials] invited me to go to California last year for ‘BuyBlack Friday’ to reach even more sales.”

Darius’ efforts haven’t gone unnoticed by a wide range of humanitarian organizations either.

He was recently nominated for a Global Child Prodigy Award, an initiative that recognizes the top 100 youth prodigies around the globe each year. In 2021, PETA recognized Brown with a "Hero to Animals Award,” which acknowledged his efforts to help shelter animals through his bow tie business.

Even former U.S President Barack Obama recognized the Newark teen’s business in 2018, sending him a letter that praised him for his efforts with Beaux and Paws.

“As long as you stay engaged in the world around you, continue looking for ways to help others, and never give up on yourself,” Obama wrote. “I’m confident our future will be bright. Know that I’m rooting for you in all you do, and I wish you the very best.”

Darius’ success, he said, can also serve as a model for youth in Newark to look towards. He hopes that when other young people in the community see what he achieved through his business ventures, it can inspire them to do the same.

“Having started so small and being able to achieve so many different kinds of awards and recognitions - it’s an amazing feeling, especially being a Black kid from Newark,” he said. “You don’t expect really anybody to be able to achieve that, so me being who I am and where I come from, it’s being able to highlight that if you’re from Newark, you’re limited at all. I want to be able to change the narrative… I want to be able to achieve the impossible and challenge the stereotype that people always see us a D-1 athletes or not having an education.

“Whatever you have a passion in, be able to tackle it. Don’t listen to the distractions and be able to stay focused. Stay on path and be different,” he said.

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published this page in News and Politics 2022-07-27 03:31:45 -0700