A young man with with Down syndrome has proven his entrepreneurship expertise after creating a million dollar company.
John Cronin, 21, has always had a flair for fancy socks, and after graduating high school, he decided to turn his passion into a career.
"I love all the Socks"
Since the beginning, John loved accessorizing his socks with his outfits, even though he faced criticism from his older brothers who were skeptical of his zany fashion sense. However, their opinion didn't stop John from staying true to himself.
"They are not the fashion police," John told Today. "I love all the socks that are very very colorful and let me be me."
Planning for the future
Following his graduation, John was at a crossroad. While John didn't know what he wanted to do with his future, he knew he wanted to go into entrepreneurship. Teaming up with his dad, the pair originally wanted to start up a food truck, but the idea quickly fell flat.
"One of the problems, me and my dad, both can't cook," John said. "Both of us are good at eating."
Going back to the drawing board, John realized he could start a business based on something he loved: crazy socks.
"John had worn crazy and colorful socks his whole life, so it was something he loved and he suggested we should sell socks," John's father Mark said.
"I wanted to do something fun and creative," John added.
The business begins
So, in November 2016, the duo, who hail from Long Island, New York, started their business with the model of a pick-and-pack warehouse, which means they distribute the socks made by other companies. These include socks with all kinds of zany images including the face of Abraham Lincoln and Donald Trump to astrological signs, and beer.
They decided on the name "John's Crazy Socks," and got to work by making a logo and launched a website in anticipation for their new customers.
"I came up with a catch phrase," John said. "Socks, socks, and more socks."
Time for take off
Unbeknownst to them, it would only take a month for the pair to be flooded with orders for the colorful creations, and fast forward to a year later, and the business has shipped more than 42,000 orders and had $1.7 million in revenue. The sock company has also gotten high profile clients who include Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and former US President, George H.W. Bush.
While others may deem this incredible success as either a fluke or sheer luck, Mark said the company's achievements solely come down to his son's hard work and dedication.
"John is a role model," Mark said. "We want to show what's possible."
Making it personal
When asked about the secret to success, John and Mark both agree it's being personable with their clients.
Each order is immediately shipped after it's ordered, and includes a package of sweets and a personal thank you note handwritten by John. He'll even personally deliver the socks if the customer lives close by.
"John really is an inspiration," Mark explained. "He works very hard in this business. We're usually in the office before 9 a.m. and frequently don't leave until after eight at night."
With John's Crazy Socks's being roaring success, the business has the funds to donates 5% of its profits to Special Olympics. This donation hits close to home as John is a special Olympian in the snow shoeing category.
The business also makes charitable donations to other causes that support autism and Williams syndrome. It also donates $2 from each sale of the cause socks to other local and national organizations.
In the past year, John said he's learned very valuable experiences and skills. When he first started delivering the socks, he had to learn to knock on doors and speak to strangers. He even has had to deal with dogs, a fear he's still learning to overcome.
"One of the things that has been wonderful is the learning experience," Mark said, adding his son is proving to be an inspiration to others.
"We hire people with disabilities. (It shows) here's what people with disabilities can do if you give them a chance," Mark said.
"It is possible," John concluded. "I have Down syndrome and it never holds me back."
As statistics show 8 in 10 self-started businesses are doomed to fail, the story of John's Crazy Socks has become an even greater inspiration to the entrepreneurship community.
As someone who's grown up with someone with Down syndrome their entire life, I can bet there's no one more deserving than John to reach this caliber of success. It's a personal belief of mine that every person should have at least one pair of kooky socks, and I now know where I'll be purchasing my next pair.
Will you be opening your wallet to buy these crazy socks?