The two things John Cronin loves most in the world are crazy socks and making people smile.
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So, in 2016, when the time came to decide what he’d do after graduating high school, the young man with Down syndrome approached his dad, Mark, with a proposal. He wanted to start a business together. Mark was all for it. After spit-balling a few ideas, they found a winner: a combination of John’s greatest passions.
“John had worn crazy socks his entire life, that was his thing,” Mark said. “We would drive around looking for them. It seemed as if John loved fun socks so much, others would too.”
It was settled; the father-son duo from Huntington Bay, New York, would sell socks together. The pair built an e-commerce website, set up a Facebook page, and contacted suppliers. Thus, John’s Crazy Socks was born. First, they began offering a wide variety of fun socks with various patterns and themes, including autism and Down syndrome awareness. Then they began selling greeting cards as well. Most of their first customers were local, so John made special home deliveries complete with candy and a thank you note.
Not only do John and Mark have a mission of “spreading happiness through socks,” but through their business, they are committed to making a difference in the workforce. “It’s not just the selling part,” Mark explained. “We are showing the world what we can do.”
That’s why nobody but John, co-founder and “Chief Happiness Officer,” could be the face of the business. It’s also why he and his dad hire people with differing abilities and donate five percent of all their earnings to the Special Olympics. They raise money for other charities as well. All that combined with John’s infectious personality made them a success from the start.
By the end of its first month, John’s Crazy Socks shipped 452 orders and earned more than $13,000 in revenue. In its first year, that number jumped to $1.7 million. In the second, total earnings soared to $5.5 million. And this year, John made history. At 23 years old, he became the first businessman with Down syndrome to win the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2019 New York award.
“I have Down syndrome, but Down syndrome has never held me back,” John proudly stated as he accepted his award. Now, through his business and philanthropic efforts, he’s encouraging others like him to pursue their dreams, no matter their abilities. What an inspiration. It’s clear nobody deserves this award more than him!
Listen to John’s acceptance speech at the awards ceremony below, and share to celebrate his incredible achievement!
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