How a young man with Down Syndrome launched his own socks startup
When he graduated from high school in 2016, John Cronin knew he wanted to go into business.
His supportive dad, Mark, brainstormed ideas with him, one of which was a food truck, they shared to Fox Business.
“I had a problem, my dad and I, both of us can’t cook!” said John in the interview.
John, 21, has Down Syndrome, and rather than becoming a barrier to a career path, his condition served as the inspiration for the father-and-son venture.
According to the US National Down Syndrome Society, Down Syndrome is when a person has a copy of chromosome 21, “altering the course of development and causes the characteristics associated with Down syndrome.”
Characteristics include “low muscle tone, small stature, an upward slant to the eyes, and a single deep crease across the center of the palm” and “cognitive delays that are mild to severe.”
A father-and-son venture
John enjoys wearing colorful patterned socks, dubbing them “crazy socks.” Soon his obsession led them to open an online store, John’s Crazy Socks.
Mark serves as president of the company and both are hands-on in the daily operations at work.
“John and I have this special partnership. We both know we need each other,” said Mark.
The business sources patterned socks from multiple suppliers, with John giving his approval to designs that include holidays and dog breeds.
Nine months after they opened, they current stock has over 1,300 unique socks . Their mission is to “spread happiness through socks.”
Part of their success is unique selling points, like fast shipping and special goodies that come with each delivery. Candies like M&M’s, a thank you note from John, and discount cards come in the package.
John gives back
Given that John inspired the company, 5 percent of profits go to organizations that support Down Syndrome awareness, autism awareness and breast cancer research.
Special socks with designs of these causes are also sold.
Employees with special needs are also welcome in the company, who do tasks such as putting labels on socks and pulling orders for delivery.
Mark has a background in business, having led start-ups and organizations. He also has a background in customer service, innovation and technology, according to the company website.
Meanwhile, John took courses in a tech high school on retailing and customer service.
The company is now based in New York with a 6,400-square-foot warehouse and office, reports Fox Business.
Personalities such as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is known to love colorful socks, and former US Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton have been gifted with his socks.
“We are demonstrating that by working with people with special needs they become an asset, they become a reason for our success, not a liability, not an obstacle. We had to overcome that,” said Mark.
John Cronin emphasized, “I’m telling the whole world, I really can do anything.” /ra
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