Teen Makes 1,000 Bow Ties to Help Pets Get Adopted

"When you add a bow tie to a dog it just helps them stand out more."

Sir Darius Brown with puppy wearing bow tie
Sir Darius Brown with a puppy wearing one of his bow ties.

Sir Darius Brown

When pet adopters go online looking for their future furry family member, a compelling photo is everything. It can make the difference between someone stopping to find out more or just keep going. Similarly, when one walks into a shelter a cute accessory on a pet can make a potential adopter look twice.

With this in mind, one teenage boy has helped thousands of dogs and cats get attention by donating jaunty pet bow ties to animal shelters across the United States.

Sir Darius Brown, 14, of Newark, New Jersey, made his first bow ties for dogs in 2017 when he was heartbroken seeing all the displaced animals being rescued from Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Hurricane Irma in Florida and Puerto Rico. They were being flown to New York City to find new homes and he wanted to help them.

“I am a huge dog lover and I thought since people look great in bow ties I know a dog would look so cute and dapper in a bow tie,” Sir Darius tells Treehugger. “So I made some bow ties for the dogs in hopes of them standing out so they could get adopted faster.”

He soon learned that animals are sometimes euthanized in shelters because they aren’t adopted fast enough and facilities are overcrowded. So he began making bow ties for more and more dogs and shelter managers really loved the idea.

“They mentioned that they used bandannas and flowers and other items before and they loved the idea of the bow tie,” he says. “Many shelters have said the bow ties have helped their dogs get adopted and has been a huge hit.”

So far, Sir Darius estimates that he has donated well over 1,000 bow ties to more than 30 shelters and adoption centers around the U.S. and even to a few shelters in the U.K.

Putting a bow tie on a dog makes a huge difference when people are looking for a forever family member, Sir Darius says.

“Dogs already look great and the puppies are so adorable in my opinion. When you add a bow tie to a dog it just helps them stand out more. You don't really expect to see a bow tie on a dog when you walk into a shelter,” he says. “I have witnessed so many times people walking into the shelter or seeing the dog with the bow tie and saying, ‘OMG look at him with his bow tie on.’ They just really look so dapper and cute with a bow tie.”

The bow ties particularly can help certain dogs that might look particularly gruff or unapproachable. But they also can help pups of all ages.

“Sometimes people view pit bulls and other dogs as aggressive dogs or mean dogs and a lot of times they are overlooked. The bow tie helps them look more distinguished,” Sir Darius says. 

“The bow tie has also helped older dogs get adopted as well. Many people want puppies and smaller dogs and they are adopted much faster. So the bow tie just adds to their cuteness.”

Learning to Sew

black dog in a red bow tie
All dogs look dapper in a bow tie.

Sir Darius Brown

Sir Darius first sat down at a sewing machine when he was 8 years old. His sister, Dazhai, is a hairstylist who often made hair bows and wigs and he loved to sit and watch her sew. He wanted to help, but his mom and sister were afraid he would hurt his hands.

“When I was younger I was diagnosed with a speech, comprehension, and fine motor skills delay. So mom let me be her assistant and I helped her cut fabric and that helped improve my fine motor skills,” Sir Darius says.

Eventually, his sister taught him to sew and while she made hair bows, he added a strap and turned them into bow ties. 

“I started to make bow ties and wear them all the time. Family, friends, and strangers would comment on my bow tie and when they found out I made the bow tie they would ask me to make them one too and that's how my business got started,” Sir Darius says.

When he first learned to sew, making a bow tie took him about an hour. Now that he is adept, the process takes him 15-45 minutes, depending on which technique he uses.

“My mom helps a lot because I'm in school 6 days a week so she will do a lot of the prep work like cutting and adding the interfacing and I will do the sewing,” he says. “I have so many people that want to buy bow ties for their dogs and a lot of shelters that request for donations. So it's a lot of work at times.”

In addition to donated bow ties, Sir Darius has sold about 1,000 as well. His goal is to personally visit and donate bow ties to shelters in every state. His sister created an online fundraiser to support his company Beaux & Paws to help pay for supplies and a new website where he can highlight dogs that are available for adoption. 

“There is a huge demand of people wanting to purchase my bow ties and shelters requesting donations. I'm working on getting additional help because of the demand.” 

Bow Ties Launch Big Dreams

two dogs wearing bow ties

Sir Darius Brown

Sir Darius is in the eighth grade. He loves football, basketball, and swimming and likes to play video games and spend time with his family when he has free time.

“Before the pandemic I used to speak at different workshops and events, I'm also learning about investing and that is very interesting,” he says. “When I'm older my goal is to attend Stanford or Yale and I want to major in business law so I can provide affordable legal services to minorities who are looking to start a business and I want to have a concentration in animal law.” 

And for all the dogs that Sir Darius has saved with his bow ties, he hasn’t been able to bring one home. Pets aren’t allowed where he lives.

“As soon as I can or when I get older my goal is to buy a house to have enough space because I want to adopt at least 3 dogs and I want to be a foster dad to dogs and create a safe house for them until they find a permanent home so they don't have to be in a shelter.”