Local Business Owner Sews On Despite Tragedy

Nicholas Wooten, Managing Editor

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The skin on his ring and pinky fingers doesn’t belong to him. His clothes and the closet that housed them are just a memory. His room is a burnt out shell. But, Aaron Brown sat behind his sewing machine smiling. The 23-year-old entrepreneur’s long journey has always had one constant—that smile.

Brown owns Bowfresh Bowties, a shop that crafts custom bow ties by hand. The store, situated across from H&H and near the town’s historically African-American business district, has only been open since Dec. 20. However, Brown has always been around fabrics and thimbles–his mother was a seamstress from Macon and his dad was a tailor so he was fascinated with the process at an early age.

“For me to see a strong man like my dad sew,” Brown said, “it made me think its okay that I’m a guy and I sew.”

Before the bowties, Brown made pillow cases. His parents refused to let him touch the family’s 1949 Singer machine. However, the temptation proved too strong and Brown went against his parent’s wishes.

“I would sneak and go use the machine…I tore it up twice,” Brown said. “The last time I snuck and used it, I finally figured it out.”

Once his mother realized what was going on, Brown didn’t have to use the machine in secret anymore.

“Right after [that], I made my first vest,” he said.

He kept making vests for himself and, in 2010, took a job at the Macon Mall Sears right out of high school.

The store closed in 2012, leaving Brown strapped for cash and jobless. Soon after, Brown was involved in a serious automobile accident. A car struck Brown’s vehicle, flipped over and landed on the roof of a car behind them.

“At that time, I thought I was about to go,” Brown said.

He always loved bowties and had been making them for himself. His sewing skills transitioned seamlessly.

“In a short amount of time, I could mass produce [bow ties] quicker. I could make something that I love  and showed a bit of my personality,” Brown said.

Brown began to make more selling them at $7 a piece with the jingle “[b]ows to match your clothes.”  Despite only advertising by word of mouth, calls came in and Brown was soon shipping orders to New York, Chicago, and California.

“I even had a lady in Chicago offer to fly me out and work in her boutique,” he said.

As Brown’s operation expanded, he needed a bigger sewing room. Brown’s brother, Anthony, and friend Gary Pertillo had a barber shop on New St. that wasn’t seeing the amount of business it anticipated. Brown saw an opportunity and approached the group with a proposition; he wanted to use the building. The upper half of the building soon became Brown’s personal playground and allowed the family to keep the building.

“I would give them enough money from my sales to pay the rent,” Brown said.

Brown was ready to make the leap from Facebook to physical storefront. He and his team pinpointed two locations for a store. But, something about the location appealed to Brown and he opened the store.

The store’s immediate success has improved Brown’s outlook on future prospects.

“Bow ties are not a trend,” Brown said. “They came before the necktie. If you look at our first President, George Washington, he wore a bow tie. They will always last.”

However, Brown has suffered some recent setbacks. A house fire that occurred January 25th sent Brown to a burn center in Augusta, Ga. where he received an allograft, a process where tissue  is removed from one person and used on another person. He also lost all of his clothes and his room in the fire. Brown has fallen behind on orders because of the injury.

However, Brown said that he is certain that making bow ties in Macon is his “destiny”.

“The address [of the store] is 610 New St. Six plus one equals seven; the number of completion,” Brown said with a smile.

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