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From A Down Syndrome Kid To The Multi-Millionaire: The Passionate Story Of John Cronin

The socks with the image of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, with “Starry Night” by Van Gogh… are the products of the million-dollar business of the boy with Down syndrome – John Cronin.

Source: John’s Crazy Socks

John Cronin, 25 years old from Melville, New York currently owns a warehouse full of colorful socks with creative prints, seemingly small things that helped him build a business worth millions of dollars.

From food truck to socks business

Source: Majically

Like his peers, Cronin decided to do what he wanted after graduation. However, the difference is John only has a limited number of career options as Down syndrome often have behavioral or health problems. John is not interested in his designated jobs such as a retailer.

His father, Mr. Mark Cronin shared: “The disabled do not have many options and not many employers are willing to accept people like my son. When asked what he wanted to do after graduation, John said he wanted to do business with me because he loved me so much.”

At first, Mark and John came up with a food truck idea inspired by “Chef”, but soon gave up because they could not cook. Then, the two remembered an important day was coming, World Down Syndrome Day, taking place on March 21.

Traditionally, people celebrate this day by wearing colorful and fancy socks. At the time, the two were looking for special Down Syndrome socks to celebrate but failed. Mr. Mark said John loves to wear special socks and perhaps that is what prompted him to make his own.

John started designing his first socks: purple with a heart and “3-21”, World Down Syndrome Day.

Mr. Mark said that when John told him they should sell socks, he thought it was worth trying and they did. They didn’t prepare any business plans or do any research, simply trying and seeing people’s reaction.

At first, only the two worked on the website. Cronin has fulfilled the requirements of starting a small business from a state registration to a bank account. The only marketing strategy implemented was a Facebook page with videos of John introducing the products, and their initial investment only worth a couple thousands.

The website, John’s Crazy Socks, was officially launched in December 2016. However, things did not go as planned. Mark and John planned to open their online store at 10am but unfortunately, the website was unexpectedly crashed until 3pm. Even so, the feedbacks were positive as 42 orders was placed on the first day, all from near Huntington, New York.

The idea that changed everything

Source: CNBC

But instead of normal shipments, John came up with an idea that was perhaps crucial to John’s Crazy Socks’ unimaginable success. He decided to personally deliver the goods to the customers and in each red box, the socks would be neatly wrapped in tissue paper along with candy and a thank you card.

John recalls: “When I knocked the door, everyone was waiting and welcoming me. I gave them boxes of socks and they loved them. They even took pictures and videos with me. It was amazing. After that, people tell others about my product.”

John’s enthusiasm and desire for customers to experience quality and good service have been noticed ever since. Initially, John’s Crazy Socks products included 31 different designs with prices ranging from $5 to 12 per pair.

Photos and videos of John’s home delivery have started going viral on social media and sales have skyrocketed as a result. In the first month, they delivered a total of 452 orders, netted nearly $13,000 in revenue.

Mr. Mark shared a happy memory that they were out of stock after the first week, and he had to drive to the vicinity and buy all the Christmas socks there to get them on sale.

Giving is receiving

Source: Microsoft News

With the goal of becoming the store that sells all kinds of socks, John’s Crazy Socks has products from more than 20 different suppliers and 2,000 styles. According to Mark, the company’s co-founder and chairman, the charitable and perceived self-made socks are best-selling products. For every pair of socks sold, $2 is donated to the company’s charitable partners, and John’s Crazy Socks also donates 5% of the proceeds to the Special Olympics.

In fact, John’s Crazy Socks is also a social enterprise because it hires employees that range from individuals diagnosed with Autism to Down syndrome. Mark pointed out that although society has paid more attention to health care and education for people with Down syndrome, there are still not many jobs for them.

John’s Crazy Socks is taking it step by step. A friend of John’s who is autistic and very shy is now able to go to work by bus on his own since working at John’s company. Another employee now can “shower, do personal hygiene and go to work every morning” thanks to working at John’s Crazy Socks.

To date, John’s company has created 35 jobs and 18 of them are filled by people with disabilities. Many people are facilitated to do simple tasks such as sorting socks and sorting goods in the warehouse. Here, they are treated fairly and amicably like normal people.

According to Mr. Mark, hiring these people is not only beneficial to their lives but also to the business: “We think we have a competitive advantage when it comes to hiring people with disabilities to work. Long Island or even most of the country are short of workers. Other employers can’t find good employees and we have available disabled people who just need a chance”.

So, Mark and John are using their platforms including an Instagram account with 36,000 followers and a YouTube channel with nearly 2,000 subscribers to spread the word. In the past few years, they have traveled to Capitol Hill four times to support people with disabilities and promote more rights for them.

More socks, please!

Source: ABC News

Since its release in December 2016, John’s Crazy Socks has “exploded”. Last year, Mark said it delivered more than 42,000 orders with total sales of about $1.7 million. This year, they are continuing to deliver between 160,000 and 180,000 orders with over $6 million in revenue.

John’s Crazy Stocks clients include celebrities such as former President George H.W. Bush and actress Eva Longoria.

Mr. Mark said: “When Barbara Bush died, their office called and said that the President and his family wanted to wear our socks in her memory. We helped them choose and sent them. The president wore those socks at the funeral and that attracted media attention.”

It is known that John’s official title at the company is Chief Happiness Officer. He is always optimistic and happy to work with Mr. Mark. At the end of the day, he usually puts on his headphones, dances and sings in the parking lot before going home.

“I have Down syndrome, but that doesn’t stop me from doing what I love and succeeding,” says John.

H/T: abilitymagazine.comcnbc.com

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