John Cronin is crazy about socks. Actually, he is crazy about crazy socks. Hence the name for his online sock company, John’s Crazy Socks, that sells crazy, unusual, distinctively fun socks. John and his father/co-founder, Mark, were in town for New Avenues to Independence’s gala Applause at the Zoo on October 28, 2017. New Avenues offers programs and services to over 750 people with disabilities in Northeast Ohio.
“We thought that John and his father were the perfect guest speakers for our fundraiser gala because they represent everything we teach here at New Avenues. We strive to give people with disabilities the tools and opportunities they need to be independent,” states Karen Knavel, CEO of New Avenues.
This was the third annual gala for New Avenues to Independence. Applause at the Zoo celebrates the incredible achievements of people with disabilities. The event took place at Stillwater Place on Waterfowl Lake in the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo raising more than $90,000.
So – about John’s Crazy Socks. No slave to fashion, 21-year old John has long cherished socks that speak to his mood and his personality. We start with John’s love of socks then add into that the fact that John just graduated from the local tech high school in Huntington, New York where he studied retailing and customer service. At the same time, John’s Dad, Mark Cronin, has a long and varied career that has him focused on customer service, innovation and technology. He also has Cleveland roots with family in Parma.
John’s message is simple, “socks, socks and more socks”, but his mission is much more powerful – smashing stereotypes of what people with a disability can achieve. “Down syndrome never holds me back,” John told me. “I love inspiring people.”
“Ours is a business built on love,” says Mark. “We’re on a mission to spread happiness through socks.”
With John about to turn 21 there was discussion about what he wanted to do next. John came to his father and said that he wanted to start a business with him. His first idea was a foodtruck. There was only one small problem – neither John nor Mark can cook. Then John came up with the idea of not only selling crazy socks but also doing it online, naming the company and designing the logo – certainly a young man of many talents.
John’s Crazy Socks was born in December, 2016 in a small office and by March had over 10,000 orders. And that number just keeps on growing. Mark states that they quickly learned four things:
- People love and need socks.
- People immediately relate to John.
- John is looked on as a role model – not only by people with special needs but by all people.
- And, yes, they knew how to make this business succeed.
John’s Crazy Socks offers over 1300 different socks so one can easily find the perfect socks for themselves or to give as a gift. John loves to send socks to different celebrities, particularly sports figures when they injure themselves. He even sent a box to Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, of Canada who is known for his interesting socks. They are now branching out into custom socks for non-profit organizations and companies; the first being an exclusive Down syndrome sock that John himself designed.
Mark is not only committed to supporting his son’s endeavors but is also passionate about the social aspect of what they are doing. He states, “Our country has made tremendous strides in medicine and education concerning people with disabilities. Now it is time to look at public policy concerning employment and benefits. There is a vast pool of labor for employers that is virtually untapped.”
John’s Crazy Socks marketing objectives are simple:
- Give inspiration and hope to people with disabilities by showing what is possible.Give back by donating 5% of profits to the Special Olympics. John is a long-time Special Olympics athlete who has benefited greatly from the program. In less than a year, they have donated $30,000.
- Continue to listen to customers and sell socks that they love.
- Keep it personal. “In every box I put a handwritten note, some candy, and two discount cards for 10% off. One of them for customers and one to give to a friend,” John said.
There is no doubt that John as the CFO, Chief Face Officer as his father calls him, will continue to spread happiness through socks. That’s why I call him the CHO – the Chief Happiness Officer.