Entrepreneur Success Story: The Sock Entrepreneur with Down’s Syndrome
“Pull up your socks” is more than a phrase for John Cronin because it has turned out to be the key to his business success.
John Cronin, who is from New York, Long Island, showed great interest in starting a business when he was 21 years old and he had just graduated from high school.
He wanted something like a “fun store” but he could not find what to sell. Then he thought of food truck but the problem was that he and his dad were not good at cooking.
He and his dad, Mark, finally decided to commence a business, a really crazy one! All of his life John had worn colorful and different socks and John showed his interest in selling the socks. John has from Down’s syndrome and he said, “Socks are creative and fun and colorful, and they actually let me be me.” John and his dad turned their idea of selling the socks into a physical business.
You will be surprised to know that they earned $1.4M from this crazy sock business and they shipped socks to some famous customers including former US president, George HW Bush.
Thank you Notes
In their online store, they have more than 1400 types of socks displaying everything like animations, personalities and even barbeques.
Check out their unique selling proposition, they ship each order the same day along with some sweets and “thank you” note handwritten by John. If the order was placed by someone who lives nearby John will deliver the package personally.
John is an active participant of the business as he communicates with the suppliers and customers himself and attends trade events. As far as the technical aspect of their business is concerned, John’s father, Mark deals with that.
Mark says, “John is really an inspiration” as he does not ask for any special treatment . John is really working hard in his business and within just a single year, they have shipped over 30,000 orders.
5% of their earnings go to Special Olympics that are specially help for the people with learning disabilities. John also takes part in his favorite games in these Olympics like in hockey, basketball and soccer.
Mark says that “We have a social mission and a retail mission, and these are indivisible.” There must be values attached. What they are doing is they are “spreading happiness”.
In a very common business, they are doing very special things that no one can even imagine. The company is trying to engage more and more disabled people into the business and almost one third of the entire staff has a disability. The company is trying to prove the “abilities of people with disabilities”.
In fact, Mark feels that those people do not need this company, but the company needs them.
It’s been a joyride
It has become a big challenge for the company to meet the increasing demand but still, the production is up to level.
In the very first month, they met 452 orders and after three months, it had increased to more than 10,000 orders which of course is a big jump. Even Mark and John were surprised to see the demand for their socks.
Not only do they take orders locally but they are delivering the socks globally and according to Transparency market research, the wider sock market is expected to be worth more than $75billion by the end of 2025.
Mark is basically a Harvard Graduate and he has spent many years of his life in healthcare management and law. For him, retail and even the sock business is new to him but he says, “I am learning and having fun and it is all because of a perfect partner, who is John.”
Further he says, “People sometimes ask me how you resolve a conflict arising between the two of you? I just laugh and feel peaceful because we haven’t had any conflict ever.”
As they both are sharing their mission and they spend a lot of time together it seems that there is good partnership between father and son.
Do you know what makes them feel proud?
John says, “I like helping the customers and working with my dad and it is what makes me happy.”
Mark further says, “It’s a model for me.”
It shows that we can start a company aiming at giving opportunities to the people with disabilities.
Mark and john have really set a great example of running such a company and next, they are planning to offer custom socks and to enter in a wholesale business by delivering their products to other small businesses.
“Down’s syndrome never holds me back,” says John. This is a great inspiration for anyone!