Hiring People with Differing Abilities at John’s Crazy Socks

At John’s Crazy Socks, we're on a mission to spread happiness. Much of that mission is built around our efforts to show what people with differing abilities can do. At the heart of that effort is our commitment to creating jobs and hiring people with differing abilities. More than half our colleagues have a differing ability. 

John with staff of Sock Wranglers

We are gearing up for the holiday season and holding special training sessions for our Sock Wranglers – the people who pick your orders. These training sessions remind us how important their jobs are and the great work they perform. It also reminds us how much the jobs mean to our Sock Wranglers. 

And it is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), so it is a good time to talk about creating jobs for people with disabilities. 

John training staff on picking orders

People with Differing Abilities Can Do Great Work 

For many of our Sock Wranglers, their job at John’s Crazy Socks is the first job they have ever held. The reality is that it can be hard for a person with an intellectual challenge like Down syndrome or autism to find work. Only one in five people with a disability are employed in this country. 

It is important to note tht we do not give out jobs at John’s Crazy Socks, everyone who works here has earned that job. All our Sock Wranglers have received training and passed the Sock Wrangler test: picking six orders in 20 minutes or less. 

Thomas packing orders

Our Socks Wranglers do a great job. We commit to same day shipping: if an order comes in by 2 p.m., we ship it the same day. How many e-commerce stores can make that promise? And our error rate is less than .2 of one percent. That is remarkable. We do better shipping than Amazon and, as John likes to point out, Jeff Bezos over at Amazon is not putting a thank you note and candy in those Amazon packages. 

You can see the picture and the name of the person who picked your order on every packing slip. 

Sock Wranglers with bags full of packages

It All Starts with John 

Our commitment to show what people with differing abilities can do all starts with John Cronin, our co-founder and Chief Happiness Officer. John is an entrepreneur and sock tycoon and he also has Down syndrome. Unable to find work as he prepared to leave high school, John decided to start his own business. He told his father, Mark X. Cronin, “I want to go into business with you” and eventually suggested that they sell crazy socks. The father-son team have bootstrapped John’s Crazy Socks into the world’s largest sock store. You can see a video and read their story here. 

John Cronin, Sock Tycoon

As the business took off, John and Mark needed help picking and packing orders. John turned to some of his classmates for help. Our first employee had a differing ability and he earned the job because he could do good work. Andrew Oh, who started with us in January 2017, is still working as a Sock Wrangler. 

A Commitment to Hiring the Best Employees 

John's Crazy Socks is a business. We have no make-work jobs. Every job is important, every job matters. We do not hire people with differing abilities as a favor. We hire people who can do great work. 

Over seven years we have drawn from three labor pools to fill jobs in our warehouse:   

  • People with differing abilities
  • Moms (there are some dads in there too) because we schedule people in four-hour shifts so you can put your child on the bus in the morning, come to work and be home in time to pick your child up in the afternoon.
  • Regular warehouse workers

By far, our best labor pool are people with differing abilities. They want to be here. They are focused on the job and enthusiastic. They are reliable and care about the quality of the work they do. Far from doing them a favor, we are grateful to attract such talented workers. 

John with Sock Wranglers

Showing The World What People with Differing Abilities Can Do 

It is not enough to simply hire people with differing abilities. We want to show the world what they can do. We create content that we share on our social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok. We host tours so visitors can see the work our colleagues perform and we have had more than 2,000 people take our tours. We host work groups from high schools and social service agencies so other people with differing abilities can get a taste of work and see the labor that our colleagues perform. 

John and Mark travel across the United States as sought-after speakers, addressing conferences and corporate events. In their talks, they let audiences know how hiring people with differing abilities is not altruism but good business. 

A Need for Change 

A better world awaits people with differing abilities. We have made great strides in the medical arena. John is evidence of those gains as he had open heart surgery before he was three months old to fix what could have been a fatal heart defect. 

We have made great strides in our educational system thanks to the American with Disabilities Act and the commitment of so many administrators, teachers, and aides. As a result, we have people who are healthy and educated. The next challenge is to welcome them as full members of society and that means addressing three frontiers: jobs, housing, and community engagements. It all starts with jobs. 

When it comes to creating jobs, it is less about creating special jobs for people with differing abilities, and more about recognizing how they can fill our current jobs. In many areas, we are facing a growing labor shortage. Employers complain that they cannot find enough good workers. Yet we have this vast, untapped resource – twenty million Americans – ready, willing, and able to work. Those businesses that adapt first and hire people with differing abilities gain a competitive advantage over others. 

Wrapping an order

Hiring People with Differing Abilities Leads to Success 

At John’s Crazy Socks, we succeed because of the people we hire. We have created a unified workplace where people with differing abilities work side-by-side with neurotypicals. The outcomes? Better morale, better retention, better productivity. Everyone is better off. 

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 $650,000 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 service@johnscrazysocks.com.