Darius Brown is a teen on a mission — a paw-some mission, that is.
The 14-year-old student from Newark, New Jersey, makes bow ties by hand for shelter dogs in need of permanent homes. An animal advocate and founder of Beaux & Paws, Brown discovered this unusual way to help dogs in animal shelters get adopted faster — and it's all due to his stylish doggy neckwear.
"I just love it when they're wearing one of my bow ties," Brown told NBC's Rehema Ellis on Weekend TODAY.
For the last four years, Brown has been created bow ties of all stripes for his furry friends and TODAY first featured his bright idea back in 2019. Brown's bow ties have since helped shelters dogs get adopted three times faster and he says he loves seeing the "success stories" of the many dogs he's styled.
On Friday, he featured one such dog on his Instagram. "The beautiful Harley here was adopted after sporting my Spring Blossom bow tie," he captioned a post, along with a message for people to consider fostering or adopting from their local animal shelters.
When asked how many bow ties he's made, Brown said it has been too many to keep count. "But, if I had to make an estimate, I would say over a thousand," said the teen.
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The eighth-grader was inspired to help animals after seeing communities destroyed in the summer of 2017 by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
"I would always see on television and wonder, 'How come there were all these people getting help, but not any animals or dogs being helped?'" he recalled.
When he heard that some dogs were transferred from the devastation in Texas and Puerto Rico to the ASPCA in New York City, he wanted to find a way to help them find their forever homes. And the way he did that was by helping them to look, well, dapper.
"Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would turn into such an amazing mission that has inspired so many people."
Brown, who was diagnosed with delays in speech, comprehension and fine motor skills as a toddler, took up sewing when he was 9 years old.
He said that sewing was difficult for him at first but he stuck with it out of a love for his family. He also credits his older sister for helping him learn the new skill.
"When she learned how to sew it was because of our grandmother," he said. "And then our grandmother passed away. So I felt as though when my sister had to teach me how to sew, it was like that family passing down the line thing."
Brown's mission is touching more lives than he ever imagined. He's partnered with organizations like Wagmor Pets Dog Rescue and recently made a red polka-dotted bow tie for Nontongo, a sweet three-legged pup who was transported from Thailand to a dog rescue in California after he was hit by a car.