John and Mark X. Cronin, co-founders of John’s Crazy Socks, met with the Down Syndrome Network Arizona (DSNetwork) sharing the story of how they started John’s Crazy Socks and offering encouragement to self-advocates with Down syndrome and their families.
“I love meeting with other people who have Down syndrome - we share something special,” said John Cronin.
Jennifer O’Connell, Executive Director of the DSNetwork said, “We are grateful for John and Mark sharing their story. Their talk was so inspiring.”
Attendee Kathryn Cohen said, “I really enjoyed hearing about John and Mark’s story. What an incredible journey and they are both an inspiration!”
The father and son team shared many of the challenges that John and his family faced as he grew up – including the need for open heart surgery and other significant surgeries. They shared how John could not speak as a child and learned sign language to communicate, yet now is a sought-after public speaker.
Mark said, “It is important that other families know that they are not alone and that things will get better. Our children are not locked into a situation, they will continue to grow and develop.”
Speaking to Entrepreneurs
DSNetwork is starting a new program for teens and adults, Club S.A.M.E. (Self Advocate Micro Enterprises), a club for people with Down syndrome to gather, share ideas, support each other and learn how to create and/or grow a self-owned business.
John and Mark were thrilled to participate in the kick-off event for Club S.A.M.E. During their talk, John and Mark shared the story of how they started John’s Crazy Socks, offering inspiration and lessons on how to make an idea a reality.
“Entrepreneurship is an option for all, including people with differing abilities,” said Mark. “John could not find meaningful work, so he started his own business and that may be a route that others want to take as well.”
John’s Crazy Socks is starting a program called JCS Champions which will put people with differing abilities into their own microbusiness. In the program, John’s Crazy Socks will provide six weeks of business training and then provide start-up inventory, selling stands, signage, and ongoing support. You can learn more about JCS Champions by clicking here.
John and Mark shared information about other supports available to help start a business like the entrepreneurship grants from the National Down Syndrome Society and Voya Financial that awards a person with Down syndrome $10,000 to start a business. And there is Synergy Works that provides training for would-be entrepreneurs.
John and Mark Are Frequent Speakers at Programs for Entrepreneurs
John and Mark are sought-after keynote speakers and they particularly enjoy speaking with entrepreneurs. They have spoken with the Entrepreneurs Organization, networking groups, Chambers of Commerce and business conferences. And they have spoken at entrepreneurship programs at many colleges and universities including Holy Cross, Hofstra, Loyola University, Ripon College, St. Joseph’s University, Rutgers, and Middle Tennessee State.
“Entrepreneurs do more than lead a business,” said John, “they make a difference in the world.”
Keynote and Event Speakers
You can have John and Mark speak to your organization or school. 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 virtually at 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.
About the Down Syndrome Network Arizona
The DSNetwork has a mission to educate, support and advocate for those in our community touched by Down syndrome. DSNetwork achieves this goal through an open, supportive and collaborative network that connects individuals and families with needed resources and information. They have a vision to create a community that embraces, supports, and inspires individuals with Down syndrome to live healthy, self-determined and fulfilling lives. You can learn more at their website: https://dsnetworkaz.org/
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.