After a day of work on a farm in Virginia, 16-year-old Miller Browning thought it would be nice to make a T-shirt for his uncle and great-grandfather.
Browning went home and got to work designing a shirt. He put the phrase “Do Work that Matters” on it and added a tractor.
“I thought it was cool and thought of other grandparents that had been in the military and figured I could do a lot with it — maybe even sell these,” Browning said in an interview. And that is what he ended up doing.
The “Do Work that Matters” merchandise has expanded to cover many occupations, including service branches, healthcare, police and firefighters, and teachers. Proceeds from sales go to these groups or organizations that support them.
Browning is an official licensee of the U.S. Air Force and Coast Guard, meaning he can print their logos on shirts and sell them as official merchandise. He was not able to get contracts with the other branches.
“The others were still supportive, but because of my age and not making a profit, they just couldn’t do it,” he said.
Browning was 13 years old when the company, under the name of Muddy Boots, was incorporated. His mother, Chriscilla Browning, is the president and has to sign all of the legal documents and licensing contracts until he becomes a legal adult.
“He sent letters off to the military branches telling them his story and asking for permission to use their trademarks,” she said. But “ultimately it was me that had to continue on with the application and sign for him. It is a very difficult and lengthy process and he is very honored to have obtained two licenses.”
The Air Force Trademark Licensing Office said they evaluate applicants based on the company’s financial stability, quality of the product, and compatibility with the values of the Air Force and Space Force, among other things. Age plays no role in the evaluation of an application.
“Our office was happy to consider the application from a young entrepreneur with a well-developed, clearly articulated vision on how he could use his company to show respect for the everyday heroes like our military members and other first responders,” April Rowden, Air Force Trademark and Licensing chief, told Military Times.
“We thank Muddy Boots Productions for recognizing the sacrifices made daily by our men and women in uniform, and those who support them,” she said.
Muddy Boots has made donations to a list of organizations, including veteran’s groups, police stations, fire departments, food banks and more.
They will often call ahead to military recruiter offices or police and fire stations and bring food and shirts. Browning additionally goes to events and sets up a booth to try to sell some shirts.
One event that stood out to him was an Irreverent Warriors Silkie Hike that took place in Raleigh, N.C. He was able to provide 500 bottles of water and 300 individual snacks and gifted military shirts to the leaders of the event.
“That was cool to see everyone come together, friendships were rekindled, and everyone was seeing each other again,” he said.
Browning hopes to keep expanding his brand and to continue recognizing those who serve.
“I’m just trying to shine light on the everyday heroes,” he said. “I’m not trying to sell shirts; I’m trying to send a message because a lot of people don’t get the recognition they deserve.”