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John Cronin, Man With Down Syndrome, Creates Sock Company John's Crazy Socks

Update: On June 21, 2019, John’s Crazy Socks co-founder John Cronin earned the Entrepreneur Of The Year 2019 New York Award in the Mission Driven category for his business, which he co-founded with his father, Mark Cronin. Cronin is the first person with Down syndrome to win a major business award. Since opening, John’s Crazy Socks has earned $5.5 million in revenue, 5% of which the Cronins have pledged to the Special Olympics. “I’m so excited to win!” John Cronin said in an interview. “Every day, we want to show the world what is possible when you give someone a chance.”

John Lee Cronin loves socks. The 21-year-old, who has Down syndrome, is known for wearing colorful, fun and whimsical socks, a passion he’s since turned into John’s Crazy Socks – an online sock store.

To make John’s Crazy Socks a reality, John partnered with his father Mark Cronin, to build the site. “John has been saying for years that he wanted to go into business with me,” Cronin said. “His ideas included a food truck and a ‘fun store,’ though it was never clear what the fun store would sell. In November, we fell into a conversation about his socks. By the end of the conversation, we decided to open an online sock store and to call it John’s Crazy Socks.”

While Mark helps out with the more technical aspects of running a website, John, Mark said, is the face of the business. “[John] came up with the name and participates in discussions on issues such as which awareness socks to create, what to put in our packaging and whether to open a brick and mortar store,” he told The Mighty.

As the face of the business, John also attends trade events, speaks with customers and suppliers, assembles packages, delivers local orders and creates videos for the company’s Facebook page. “There is no ‘make work’ for John,” Cronin said. “He has real responsibilities and works hard every day.”

Since launching in December 2016, the father-son duo have sold over 1,000 pairs of socks and expanded their marketplace from 30 different types of socks to more than 500 different designs. Each package is assembled with care and includes a handwritten thank-you note from John and some candy.

In addition to providing colorful, high-quality socks, the Cronins also believe in giving back. “Our mission is to spread happiness through socks,” Mark said. “Giving back is part of our spreading happiness.” As part of their philanthropy, the Cronins donate 5 percent of the store’s profits to the Special Olympics – a cause close to John, who has competed in snowshoe, basketball, track, soccer, floor hockey and bowling Special Olympics events.

John’s Crazy Socks also sells Down syndrome awareness socks and autism awareness socks, with $1 going to the Nassau/Suffolk Branch of the Autism Society of America (NSASA) and $2 being split between the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) and the Association for Children with Down Syndrome (ACDS), respectively.

Want to learn more? Check out other businesses own by people with Down syndrome you can support and coffee shops that hire people with Down Syndrome.