Part of our mission at John’s Crazy Socks is to demonstrate how hiring people with differing abilities makes for good business. We received another sign today that we are making progress when we learned that an article about John’s Crazy Socks by Professors Jérémie Renouf and Noreen O’Shea has been published in the academic journal Entreprendre & Innover, a quarterly journal focused on entrepreneurship and innovation.
Entitled “Celebrating the Upside of Down Syndrome Entrepreneurs,” the article by Professors Renouf and O’Shea focuses on John’s Crazy Socks and the work of a French entrepreneur named Barthélémy Mercier and his mother, Isabelle.
Professor Renouf wrote, “I am thrilled to share with you my latest article. It’s the first article on this topic to be featured in a peer-review journal.”
“We make a simple argument: hiring people with differing abilities is not altruism, it is good business,” said Mark X. Cronin. Mark co-founded John’s Crazy Socks with his son John who is an entrepreneur with Down syndrome. “Those firms that practice inclusive hiring have a competitive advantage over other businesses. We are asked to speak at colleges and universities as students want to learn about inclusive hiring. And we know that there are courses in colleges and universities that include lesson plans and case studies about John’s Crazy Socks. There have been books and articles written about our hiring practices, but this is the first time that we have learned of a publication in a European academic journal documenting what we do here.”
Entrepreneurs with Down Syndrome Creating Businesses
In summarizing their article, Professors Renouf and O’Shea wrote:
This study explores the entrepreneurial trajectories of people with down syndrome…we investigate the difficulties they encounter and the ways in which they surmount them. Our findings show that despite the personal and societal stigmas they face, they exploit their intrinsic motivations and passion
to successfully do business, along with the help of a strong family and community-based support network.
We contend that this entrepreneurial configuration, which requires 1) disabling the exclusionary mindset that continues to stigmatize disabled people and 2) the provision of specifically designed training, can provide opportunities for professional integration, self-fulfillment, and well-being for people with Down syndrome.
Working with Students at the University of Paris
John and Mark X. Cronin first met Professor Renouf when he asked them to address his entrepreneurship class at Paris University. That presentation turned into a semester-long project where teams of students worked on plans showing how John’s Crazy Socks could enter the French market.
“I love working with students,” said John Cronin. “We learn as much from them as they do from us.”
In addition to their many speaking engagements at colleges and universities, John’s Crazy Socks has worked on projects with students from Cornell University and Long Island University in addition to Paris University.
“I look forward to our opportunity to work with students,” said Mark. That is not surprising since Mark began his professional career as a teacher and has gone on to teach at Columbia University and New York University. “Working with students is a way to give back, but it is part of our mission to share the power of the social enterprise and the benefits of hiring people with differing abilities.”
Speaking at Colleges and Universities
John and Mark frequently speak at colleges and universities. They have travelled across the United States and Canada for speaking engagements and have joined students around the world through virtual presentations. They most often address students with a focus on business or entrepreneurship, though they also speak with students in the fields of education and special education. They have also begun a program of speaking to those in medical school or medical professions on treating patients with differing abilities.
Among the colleges and universities where they have spoken are Rutgers, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, Stanford, Ripon College, Holy Cross, Middle Tennessee State, Hofstra, the University of Loyola-Chicago, and Adelphi University. Outside the U.S., they have spoken at Carleton College and Simon Fraser University in Canada, Trinity College in Ireland, the University of Paris, and schools in Belgium, Portugal, and Spain.
Keynote and Event Speakers
John and Mark X. Cronin are frequent speakers at conferences and corporate events. They share their entrepreneurial story of how a young man with Down syndrome together with his father created what is today the world’s largest sock store with a mission to spread happiness. Their speaking engagements bring laughter, tears and inspire people to see what is possible for each of us to achieve. They have spoken in person at events across Canada, the United States and Mexico and at virtual events around the world. They have spoken at events for Microsoft, EY, Bank of America, the Special Olympics, and the National Down Syndrome Society, among others.
Their advocacy work has seen the Cronins testify twice before Congress and speak at the United Nations on two occasions. Their work has been featured on many national news shows. They are winners of many awards including the EY Entrepreneurs of the Year. They serve on the CEO Commission for Disability Employment and the Neurodiversity at Work Business Roundtable.
John and Mark recorded their second TEDx Talk entitled, “Hiring People with People with Differing Abilities is Not Altruism, It Is Good Business.” That talk is available on YouTube and the TED platform. Their first TEDx Talk entitled Differently Abled People Want to Help Us is also available on YouTube and the TED platform.
About John’s Crazy Socks
John’s Crazy Socks was inspired by John Lee Cronin, a young man with Down syndrome, and his love of colorful and fun socks—what he calls his “crazy socks.” He and his father, Mark X. Cronin, started the company as a social enterprise with a mission of Spreading Happiness™. With more than 4,000 socks, John’s Crazy Socks is now the world’s largest sock store. More than half their employees have a differing ability, and their Giving Back program has raised over $635,000 for charity partners like the Special Olympics, the National Down Syndrome Society, and the Autism Society of America. Most of all, they are Spreading Happiness™.
For more information about John’s Crazy Socks, visit our webpage, Facebook page, Instagram account, TikTok or YouTube channel. You can also contact us at 631-760-5625 or via email at email@example.com.