The Story of John’s Crazy Socks
John’s Crazy Socks is a father-son venture inspired by co-founder John Lee Cronin, a young man with Down syndrome. John’s affinity for crazy socks paired with his love of making people smile made our mission clear: we want to spread happiness.
We have a social mission and a retail mission, and they are indivisible. We want to show what is possible when you give someone a chance. Every day, we demonstrate what people with intellectual disabilities can do. And we believe in giving back: we donate 5 percent of our earnings to the Special Olympics as they’ve played a vital role in John’s development. We continue to expand our charity partners by offering and creating socks with specific “awareness” themes, such as our Autism Awareness Socks and Down Syndrome Awareness Socks.
We match our social mission with a commitment to be a great sock store. We have socks you can love with the widest array of fun, unique and beautifully designed socks that let you express your passion and personality. And we deliver those socks with fast, personal service. We provide same-day shipping and every package includes a hand-written thank you note from John and some candy.
We love what we do. We hope you love our socks and that your experience with John’s Crazy Socks brings you happiness.
John Lee Cronin and Mark X. Cronin
How It All Began
Our story began in the fall of 2016. John had entered his last year of school attending Huntington High School and Wilson Tech, where he studied retailing and customer service. At the same time, his Dad, Mark, was beginning to build some online businesses. John needed to decide what he would do when he left school, so he began looking at his options.
Not liking the choices he faced, John turned to his father and said, “I want to go into business with you.” John had worked with Mark before and he thought the best way to find a job he would love was to create one. To Mark, this seemed like a great plan.
The two would-be partners needed to come up with an idea for their business. John’s first suggestion? A fun store. “I wanted something fun and creative.” Though neither of them could figure out what a fun store would actually sell.
Next, John suggested a food truck. He had seen the movie Chef starring Jon Favreau, about a father-son food truck business. The two started cooking up plans on what they could serve when they ran into a problem. John explained, “We can’t cook.”
With his food truck initiative gone, John hit his Eureka moment. “Let’s sell socks.” John suggested they sell crazy socks. He even had the name for the business and some drawings of the website. Asked why socks, John says, “I wore crazy socks my entire life. They are fun, colorful and creative. They let me be me.”
Mark adds, “John had worn crazy socks his entire life, that was his thing. We would drive around looking for them. It seemed as if John loved fun socks so much, others would too.”
John and Mark set out to build their business. They built a website in Shopify, an e-commerce platform. They convinced some suppliers to sell them some inventory. They opened bank accounts and filed with the State of New York. The only marketing they did was to set up a Facebook page and shoot some low-fi videos with John talking about his socks. That’s when John came up with his catchphrase: “socks, socks and more socks.” And they committed to donating 5 percent of earnings to the Special Olympics.
The partners intended to open their business at 10 a.m. but their website crashed that morning, so they opened at 3 p.m. They waited to see what would happen.
Fortunately, they did not need to wait long. Orders began streaming in. Almost all of them were local people that knew the pair in Huntington. And the customers came because they loved John’s videos.
John wanted to make the first packages special, so they decided to make home local deliveries. They put the sock in red boxes, added some candy and a thank you note from John. Then they loaded up the car with the boxes and drove around so John could knock on doors.
And our customers loved it. They took pictures with John and pictures of the socks and shared them on social media. Word began to spread and more orders came in. By the end of that first month, John’s Crazy Socks had shipped 452 orders and earned more than $13,000 in revenue.
John and Mark wanted to test the idea of selling socks online and the response was very positive. Mark says, “We learned three things:
Building John’s Crazy Socks
We have built John’s Crazy Sock with a simple mission:
Everything we do is designed to spread happiness. The more we can do for others, the more we can make people happy, the better off we are.
We have built our business on four pillars:
Inspiration and Hope
We want to show the world what is possible. We want to show the world what people with differing abilities can do when given a chance. We know that people with differing abilities are ready, willing and able to work. We make this happen in ways large and small:
Giving Back is an essential part of what we do. We do not think a business can simply sell stuff, it is essential to give back. From the beginning, we have pledged 5 percent of our earnings to the Special Olympics. We have added a growing list of Charity and Awareness Socks that raise money for our charity partners. We also hold special events to generate funds for Our charity partners.
We can only raise funds for our charity partners because of the support of our customers. Therefore, we publish a Giving Back Report each month at our website and share it on social media to account for the money raised as part of our Giving Back Program.
Socks You Can Love
We want to be a great sock store and that means offering socks you can love. We search for the largest possible selection of great quality socks. We offer something for everyone.
Plus, we have our Sock of the Month Club. And, we have gift boxes and gift bags. We focus on socks and seek to offer packages that will spread happiness.
Making It Personal
We want a personal connection with our customers. Every package receives a thank you note from John and some candy. And now if we see a package going to a member of the Military service, we add a special thank you card. We are always looking for ways to make things more personal.
A Social Enterprise
We have a social mission and an e-commerce mission. These twin missions are indivisible. Our social mission helps our e-commerce efforts and our e-commerce efforts supports our social mission. We believe it is not enough simply to sell things; we think it is important to have a mission and to give back.
Our Social Enterprise model is an alternative to models that only seek to make money. Make no mistake, we want to be profitable, but we have found that the more we do for others, the better our business will succeed.