Shelden Gibbs, Buffalo's bow tie kid, honored with Black History Month award

Mar 1, 2018

Black History Month ended with quite the fanfare at Buffalo’s City Hall Wednesday. Awards were handed out to community members for the annual City Hall Black History Month program. That includes an local 11-year-old CEO.

Shelden Gibbs after receiving his award from Mayor Byron Brown
Credit Nick Lippa WBFO

Music filled the room as Mayor Byron Brown handed out awards for great achievements by African-American residents this past year. A fitting way, in his eyes, to end Black History Month.

“The goal of Black history month is not to dictate or limit the study and the education of the black experience to one month,” said Brown, “but to bring attention to important events and individuals who have made a positive impact on our communities.”

Among those recognized included NAACP President Mark Blue, Legislator Barbara Miller-Williams, and an ambitious 11-year-old named Shelden Gibbs. The sixth grade student is the CEO and founder of Classic Knot—a business where he makes custom bow ties.

“I always had a passion for bow ties,” said Gibbs. “I would get so many compliments on the ones I make. I used to go in stores and I couldn’t find a style I liked. So I just started making my own.”

All of this year's award recipients
Credit Nick Lippa WBFO

The Tapestry Charter School student attributes his success to his faith and his mother Rhonda Woods

“I was cutting up my old shirts and my mom would say, ‘What in the world are you doing?’ I was like yeah I want to start up my own company and she was all for it. I just had to start up a business plan,” Gibbs said.

It’s just your typical grade school student coming up with a business plan. While that sounds shocking to many of us, it doesn’t to his mother.

“Sheldon has always been the kid that wasn’t afraid to try things,” said Woods. “So when he came to me and told me he wanted to start his own business it sounded just like Sheldon.” I’m very proud of the accomplishments that he has made. I’m very grateful for the love and support that the community as a whole has embraced Sheldon with.”

Rhonda Woods applauding her son's success
Credit Nick Lippa WBFO

Woods said this experience for young Shelden is a valuable one.

“It feels good to see him honored among other black leaders and great men in the community. It feels very good to see him so young experiencing such adult things at an early age.”

Mayor Brown is one of many who is excited to see Gibbs continue his success.

“These are the kinds of stories and the kinds of young people in our community that inspire me to work hard every single day,” said Brown.

So what’s in store for the bow tie kid? He wants to one day make his own suits.

The successful entrepreneur had these words to describe his feelings on being presented the program’s Youth Award.

“Umm… it’s awesome.”