The Origins of John's Crazy Socks: A Love for Socks Turned into a Business
Origin stories matter. John’s Crazy Socks grew out of an idea from our co-founder, John Cronin. Part of the motivation was practical: he could not find work he wanted to do, so he decided to create his own job and his own business. Part of the motivation was John’s love of socks, so he decided to sell socks.
“I wore fun socks my whole life,” said John. “Why socks? They are creative, colorful and always let me be me.”
Mark X. Cronin, John’s co-founder and father, said, “We would drive around looking for socks. Plain, boring socks would never do for John. He was always on the hunt for the next pair of great socks.”
“When John suggested that we sell socks, it resonated right away. If John loved socks so much, surely others would love them that much too. We could find our tribe: people who wanted great socks, people whose socks are an extension of their personality.”
John’s Crazy Socks opened on Friday, December 9, 2016. “We had 37 different pairs of socks. That seemed like a lot, but I knew it wasn’t enough,” said John.
Making Socks for Everyone: The Importance of Personal Expression
Mark explained, “Very early on, we thought we could curate a selection of great socks. We soon learned that would never work. Socks are very personal, what might be right for me is not going to be right for you. Socks are a way to express who we are, to show the world our personality. We had to offer socks for everyone.”
The hunt was on, not for customers, but for great socks. “We scoured the internet, went to every trade show, listened to every sock designer,” said Mark. “Most of all, we listened to our customers. People would call us up with design ideas or suggestions on socks to carry and we would add those socks to our collection.”
“I wanted to have socks for everybody,” said John.
“We developed a simple view of the sock world,” said Mark. “You could go to a department store either in the store or online and they would have some socks, but not many. You could go to an individual sock designer and there are many great ones like Stance, BlueQ, and Gumball Poodle, but all you could get were their socks. You could go to Amazon, but you can’t really browse Amazon and they view socks the same way they view books or lightbulbs, all transactions and no love.”
“We wanted to have socks for everyone, we wanted each person, each customer to be able to find socks he or she loved. John wanted the World’s Biggest Sock Store and that’s what we’ve created: the prefect sock for every sock lover,” said Mark.
With over 4,000 sock designs and dozens of suppliers, John’s Crazy Socks is indeed the world’s largest sock store. “We made my dream come true,” said John. “We have socks that each person can love. We have more great socks than anyone else in the world.”
Building a Great Website for a Great Sock Store
Building a great sock store also meant building a great website. “We want to give everyone the best possible choice, but too much choice can be overwhelming,” said Mark. “We have built a website that is easy to use and helps people find exactly what they want. There is a lot of smart, highly technical work behind the scenes with our menus, our collections and our search function that make the website graceful and easy to use. You can find exactly what you want in a matter of seconds. At the same time, you can spend all day browsing through our collections and we hear from customers who love to do just that.”
To make sure everyone has the fun socks they love means we are always looking for new sock designs. Especially since we have so many repeat customers – our customers love the socks and the service, so they keep coming back – we need to offer fresh designs each week. Everyone at John’s Crazy Socks contributes sock ideas and we listen carefully to our customers and their suggestions and feedback. We search out the trade shows, suppliers and the best designers.
Depending on other sock suppliers and sock manufacturers, would never be enough. Soon after we opened John’s Crazy Socks, we went looking for Down Syndrome Awareness Socks that we could offer to our customers since John, in addition to being a sock tycoon and a philanthropist, also has Down syndrome. Unable to find one, John said, “We should make one.” So, John designed it and we created the world’s first Down Syndrome Awareness Sock.
That approach has become an essential part of our approach. In addition to carrying other designers’ socks, we are always creating our own designs, sock designs that no one else has, socks we know our customers will love.
Expanding our Ability to Make Great Socks: A Partnership with Gold Medal International
We needed to expand our ability to make great socks, so we found the ideal strategic partner in Gold Medal International, a third-generation family business that makes socks for department stores and brand names. Mark said, “To create the quality socks we want and the volume of socks our customers demand, we needed a partner who loved socks as much as John and had the ability to produce the world’s greatest socks. We found our dream partner in Gold Medal International and the Rotstein family.”
“I love working with Paul and Lewis Rotstein,” said John. “They are the best sock makers in the world.”
From a Love for Socks to a Global Business: The Growth of John's Crazy Socks
John’s Crazy Socks began because John loves socks so much, and he wanted to make people happy with his socks. From that dream, John has built the world’s largest sock store with socks for everyone. We make and design our own socks and we carry socks from the best brands in the world. We have socks made in the U.S. and from around the world: Canada, Peru, Egypt, China, Turkey, India, South Korea, and Japan. We are forever looking for great socks for our fellow sock lovers.
John's Crazy Socks as a Social Enterprise
Yes, John’s Crazy Socks is a social enterprise. Yes, more than half of our employees have a differing ability. Yes, we give back, starting by donating five percent of our earnings to the Special Olympics. And yes, we offer great personal service exemplified by the thank you note and candy in every package. But from the beginning and in everything we do, John’s Crazy Socks is built on a love for socks and making sure each customer has the socks he or she wants. As John first said even before we opened for business, “Socks, socks and more socks.”